The Effects of Speed Abuse

Speed, or amphetamine, is a highly addictive medication used to enhance wakefulness and focus. Speed has many effects on the body, including decreasing fatigue and appetite in most users. Amphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs are:

  • Proven to have a high likelihood of abuse
  • Used widely to cure serious medical conditions
  • Likely to cause severe physical dependency if abused
  • Likely to cause severe psychological dependency if abused

Most addicts or abusers employ speed for the short-term effect of a euphoric high or the feeling of invulnerability. The increased focus this state affords can allow students, athletes and others to perform well past their natural limits, but this enhanced performance comes with increased risk of side effects, addiction and long-term damage.

Short-Term Adverse Effects

Speed’s effects cover more than just the intended, desirable high. Many side effects associated with the drug are adverse effects that negatively impact users. These include:

  • Dangerously high body temperatures
  • Cardiovascular system failures
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Delusions

These effects are typically short-term and last only as long as the user has the substance in their systems. Many of these effects are not life-threatening, but potential dangers exist for those with heart, lung or nervous system issues. Overuse can lead to immediate, short-term episodes of hypertension, chest pain and psychosis.

Amphetamine induced psychosis episodes can have both short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects of speed psychosis include visual and auditory hallucinations, acceptance of dangerous delusions, thought disorders that prevent rational thinking or logical expression, and, in extreme cases, catatonia. The effects of speed may cause users to act aggressively towards perceived threats, and sufferers are very likely to experience paranoid delusions that lead them to believe they are being persecuted by nearby persons.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of speed include addiction and chemical dependency. Psychological dependency can also trigger a number of undesirable adverse effects. Long-term effects of speed abuse include:

  • Persistent dizziness
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Breathing problems
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Skin disorders
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

As levels of speed begin to accumulate in an abuser’s system, the likelihood of addiction or dependency increase dramatically. Tolerance levels build over time, requiring the user to take more and more of the drug to obtain the same level of euphoria or focus. Occurrences of psychosis become more likely due to the constant presence of amphetamine in the abuser’s body. This enhanced adverse effect, known as toxic psychosis, may last much longer than the short-term version and have greatly enhanced effects. Call our support line at any time at 1-888-287-0471 Who Answers? for additional help or information on the long-term effects of speed abuse or the perils of amphetamine psychosis.

Additional Information

“As levels of speed begin to accumulate in an abuser’s system, the likelihood of addiction or dependency increase dramatically.”The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 6.5 percent of all persons admitted to publicly funded addiction recovery programs were seen due to stimulant abuse, including those who exhibited speed abuse symptoms. The NIDA also indicates that over 13,000 drug and alcohol treatment centers exist in the United States to help deal with this prevalent problem. Detoxification for speed regularly includes hospitalization during the detox process to monitor for life-threatening adverse effects or attempts of suicide by those who are psychologically dependent on the drug. Rehabilitation regularly involves specialized seminars designed to help people regain physical, vocational or social skills lost due to damage inflicted on the central nervous system during the period of abuse.

Long-term treatment is often required due to the high likelihood of relapse in most patients. Other services provided by speed treatment centers include counseling, psychiatric visits, case management and group therapy meetings. For more information on the side effects of speed, detoxification, recovery, or the location of treatment centers and support groups near you, call 1-888-287-0471 Who Answers? .


  • Speed was employed by the soldiers of many nations during WWII to address fatigue issues related to the many stressful situations encountered in war. The drug became a controlled substance requiring a prescription in 1965, six years before it was classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Experimentation in animals has revealed that many non-human mammals actually become more sensitive to speed after repeated uses. This is the opposite of human reactions, as humans develop tolerance to the drug at a fairly quick rate.
  • The symptoms of acute amphetamine psychosis are very similar to those of schizophrenia, and sufferers may receive a misdiagnosis if they do not divulge the use of speed or similar stimulants during a medical screening. The psychosis may also mask signs of a true co-occurring disorder, as some evidence points to the possibility of a genetic link between schizophrenia and a vulnerability to amphetamine psychosis.
  • The combination of speed and alcohol can be very dangerous, and adverse side effects are amplified by stressful physical conditions. is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc. Learn more about what this means here
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