Updated on February 19, 2024
7 min read

What is Speed Addiction and How Dangerous Is It?

Key Takeaways

Speed, a drug chemically similar to amphetamines, boosts neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in the brain. It enhances focus, energy, and feelings of euphoria.

However, misusing the drug can lead to addiction in a short time. The instant gratification and overwhelming rush of pleasurable effects can lead to intense cravings, contributing to drug abuse.

As your body gets used to speed, it requires higher doses to feel the same effects. Stopping usage can result in severe withdrawal symptoms and can be dangerous.

What are the Risks of Speed Addiction?

Speed addiction can start from using the drug recreationally. Regardless of how it starts, you should address and treat speed addiction promptly to avoid further harm and complications.

Misusing speed poses significant risks with potentially irreversible damage.

Some key dangers of speed addiction include:1

  • Memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Psychotic behavior
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Risk of infection (HIV and/or hepatitis B)
  • Malnutrition

Motor skills and verbal memory can improve after about two years of abstinence from speed. However, many of the adverse effects are irreversible.

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What are the Signs of Speed Addiction?

The signs of speed addiction can vary from person to person. However, common indicators of speed addiction include:

  • Extreme weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia 
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Deterioration in physical appearance and hygiene

A person addicted to speed may also exhibit behavioral changes. They could begin to neglect relationships, work, and school and change their social circle to spend time with other substance users.

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Speed Addiction?

Withdrawal symptoms are physical and psychological effects that occur when you stop using a drug.

Symptoms of speed addiction withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleeplessness
  • Twitching body movements
  • Intense drug cravings

What are Speed's Overdose Symptoms?

If you’ve developed a high tolerance for speed or mix it with other drugs, you may be at risk of a severe overdose.

Symptoms of a speed overdose or amphetamine toxicity include:

  • Chest pain
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Hyperthermia (dangerous overheating of the body)
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting

An overdose can result in heart failure and possible death. Contact a medical professional immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose.

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What are Speed Addiction Treatment Options?

Seeking speed addiction treatment programs helps you recover from addiction. Talk to your doctor to explore different treatment options to find one that caters to your needs.

Available treatment options include:

  • Inpatient treatment: Requires living in a recovery center to provide a controlled environment and is ideal for more severe forms of addiction
  • Outpatient treatment: Involves attending therapy sessions regularly while living at home and is suitable for those with less severe forms of addiction
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Helps people process negative thought patterns and find healthier coping mechanisms
  • Medication-assisted treatment: Involves using FDA-approved medication to reduce drug cravings while working on your addiction
  • 12-step programs: Includes popular support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) to help in recovery

Are There Medications to Treat Speed Addiction?

There are no available medications that solely treat speed addiction. However, bupropion (Wellbutrin), a drug for depression, can help reduce cravings for the drug.

Bupropion inhibits methamphetamine-induced dopamine release, which could make it a valuable approach for treating a speed addiction.

Some healthcare professionals also recommend other medications off-label. These drugs help reduce cravings but aren’t FDA-approved to treat speed addiction:

  • Modafinil: Has the potential to reduce cravings associated with cocaine and other stimulant use
  • Topiramate: Has the potential to reduce alcohol and cocaine cravings
  • Naltrexone: FDA-approved for the treatment of alcohol and opioid use disorders; explored off-label for stimulant use disorders

​​​​Guidance for Caregivers and Family Members

Here are some ways to provide support and help those struggling with Speed abuse overcome their addiction:

  • Educate yourself about the drug: Research and learn more about speed addiction, its signs, symptoms, and effects on the body. The more knowledge you have, the better you can understand your loved one's struggles.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment: Offer your support and encouragement to seek professional help. Let them know you're always by their side, and you can accompany them to appointments or even help them find a treatment facility.
  • Be patient and understanding: Recovery from addiction is a long process, and there will be setbacks along the way. It's essential to be patient and understanding with your loved one as they work towards sobriety.
  • Avoid enabling behaviors: It can be tempting to try and protect your loved one from the consequences of their addiction, but this can actually hinder their recovery. Avoid giving them money or making excuses for their behavior.
  • Take care of yourself: Supporting a loved one through addiction can be emotionally and physically draining. Take care of your well-being, and seek support from others if necessary.

How Can You Prevent Speed Addiction?

To help prevent Speed addiction, it's essential to follow these steps:

  • Only take the drug as prescribed: Don't take more than the necessary dose or for a longer period than your doctor prescribed.
  • Avoid sharing prescriptions: Never share your prescription with someone else or use someone else's medication. This can lead to dependency and other health risks.
  • Keep track of your medication: Keep them safe and secure, and monitor how many you have left. This can help prevent accidental overdose or misuse.
  • Seek alternative forms of recreation: If you or someone you know is using the substance as a form of recreation, try to find alternative activities that are enjoyable and don’t involve drug use.
  • Seek help for mental health conditions: Many people turn to drugs as a way to self-medicate underlying mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, seek proper treatment and support. 

What are Speed's Drug Interactions?

Taking meth with other drugs can lead to a dangerous drug interaction. This can change how the drug works, increasing the risk of side effects or worsening already existing ones.

Substances that can interact with speed include:

  • MAO inhibitors: Can result in severe hypertension
  • Heart rate or blood pressure medication: Can lead to increased cardiovascular stress, potentially resulting in dangerously high blood pressure or heart-related complications
  • Antidepressants (including SSRIs and SNRIs): May heighten the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition
  • St. John's Wort: Can induce liver enzymes that may alter methamphetamine’s efficacy or increase the risk of side effects
  • Other illegal substances like ecstasy (MDMA): Can intensify stimulant effects and increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events and other serious health complications

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Resources for Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with Speed addiction, there are resources available to help. Consider reaching out to:

  • National Helpline: 1-800-237-TALK (8255)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Treatment locator
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Your primary care provider or a mental health professional: Consult them for personalized guidance and treatment options

Common Questions on Speed Addiction

What is speed’s legal status?

As a Schedule II controlled substance, methamphetamine is illegal to produce, sell, or possess without a prescription. Offenders face severe penalties and imprisonment as federal law prohibits the production of drugs like speed.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regularly monitors illicit drug activities in the U.S. However, some drug traffickers produce small quantities of methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories.

Can I quit using speed without professional help?

While it's possible to quit using speed without professional help, it's not ideal. The withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be intense, making it challenging to quit on your own.

Seeking professional treatment can provide you with the support and resources needed to overcome your addiction. It's always best to consult with a medical professional before attempting to quit any substance on your own.

How do users consume speed?

People take speed by snorting, swallowing, injecting, smoking, or bombing. Bombing involves wrapping the drug in cigarette paper and swallowing it. The paper dissolves in the stomach, releasing the drug slowly.

How does speed differ from other stimulants?

Speed’s chemical structure differs from other stimulant drugs, but its psychological and behavioral results are similar. For one, it’s not as potent as crystal meth, but it’s still highly addictive.

Compared to cocaine, the body absorbs meth much slower, so meth high lasts longer. Speed also releases three times the amount of dopamine than cocaine. This is because cocaine only blocks reabsorption, while meth increases dopamine release.

Summary

Speed is a highly addictive and dangerous stimulant drug that can cause severe long-term harm to physical and mental health. Its overdose symptoms include chest pain, convulsions, hyperthermia, and cardiovascular problems.

Withdrawal from speed addiction can lead to physical and mental symptoms. Speed can also have dangerous interactions with other drugs, including prescription medications.

Seeking professional treatment is necessary to overcome a speed addiction due to the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If you or someone you know is struggling with speed addiction, seek help immediately.

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Updated on February 19, 2024

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