Speed Use Signs and Symptoms – How To Tell if Someone is Using
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“Speed” refers to a class of illegal drugs called amphetamines that act as central nervous system stimulants.
When someone misuses speed, the body’s systems induce an effect similar to a constant state of panic with increased heart rate, body temperature, attention, alertness, and restlessness followed by a crash of exhaustion.
The term “speed” refers to a class of illegal drugs called amphetamines that act as central nervous system stimulants. The name comes from the effect they have on the body. They speed everything up. Amphetamines are medicines typically prescribed for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. When taken as prescribed they can be very effective. Signs are noticeable when someone takes too much or is abusing speed.
Speed Use Signs
The central nervous system controls the fight or flight response. When someone uses too much speed, the central nervous system activates body systems to a level higher than when someone is in danger. Imagine being in a constant state of panic. The effects of speed normally last 2-4 hours and include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Greater attention and alertness
- Restless and jittery
- Increased movement
- Exaggerated startle response
- Suppressed appetite
- Increased body temperature
- Irritability and impatience
Everyone reacts differently to the stimulating effects of speed. Overdose can happen with first use. Overdose can include convulsions, heart attack, severe agitation, hallucinations and even death.
After speed wears off, there is usually a “crash” of exhaustion. Someone who is abusing speed may show behavior cycles of frantic hyperactivity followed by fatigue and depression.
Long-Term Speed Use Signs
Abusing speed is dangerous. When someone abuses amphetamines for a long time, the symptoms of using are exaggerated and permanent. They include:
- Paranoid hostility
- Repetitive aimless activities
- Heart problems and chest pain
- Skin flushing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
How Speed is Used
Speed can be in pill or powdered form. Typical oral prescriptions include Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine. During later stages of abuse, someone may use the powder or crushed pills by injecting it directly into the bloodstream, smoking or snorting it.
If someone is abusing pills, they will take more than prescribed resulting in difficulties getting more. Due to increased regulations surrounding prescription stimulants, prescriptions and refills are closely monitored. Someone may resort to street drugs which can include switching to methamphetamine, a hazardous and highly addictive form of amphetamine.
- Erika Pike, William W. Stoops, Lon R. Hays, Paul E. A. Glaser, Craig R. Rush. METHAMPHETAMINE SELF-ADMINISTRATION IN HUMANS DURING D-AMPHETAMINE MAINTENANCE. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014 Dec; 34(6): 675–681. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4239155/
- Matthew G. Kirkpatrick, Erik W. Gunderson, Chris-Ellyn Johanson, Frances R. Levin, Richard W. Foltin, Carl L. Hart. Comparison of intranasal methamphetamine and d-amphetamine self-administration by humans. Addiction. 2012 Apr; 107(4): 783–791. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3475187/
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