Updated on November 27, 2023
9 min read

What is Speed Addiction and How Dangerous Is It?

Is Speed Addictive?

Misusing methamphetamine can lead to an addiction in a short time. The instant gratification and overwhelming rush of pleasurable effects can lead to intense cravings, contributing to drug abuse.1

Speed is highly addictive and can worsen over time as you become more tolerant. When you develop a tolerance for the drug, it can cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it.

What are Speed Addiction Treatment Options?

There are no available medications to treat speed addiction itself. However, some studies have shown that bupropion (Wellbutrin), a drug for depression, could help reduce cravings for the drug.6

Bupropion inhibits methamphetamine-induced dopamine release, which could make it a valuable approach for treating a speed addiction.6 

Some healthcare professionals may also recommend other medications off-label. These are meant to help reduce cravings but aren’t approved by the FDA.

These medications include:

  • Modafinil: A wakefulness-promoting agent; has the potential to reduce cravings associated with cocaine and other stimulant use
  • Topiramate: Originally an antiepileptic drug; 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

Addiction Treatment Programs for Speed Addiction

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

Available treatment options include:

  • Inpatient treatment: You live at a recovery center to help you overcome your addiction. Inpatient treatment is ideal for more severe speed addiction, and it provides a controlled environment that eliminates triggers.
  • Outpatient treatment: Outpatient programs vary in intensity but involve attending therapy sessions regularly while still living at home. They are suitable for those with support from family and friends or those with less severe addiction.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps with drug addiction and mental disorders by dealing with negative patterns and finding healthier coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, or depression.
  • Medication-assisted treatment: Involves using FDA-approved medication to reduce drug cravings while working on your addiction. Examples include naltrexone (Vivitrol) and buprenorphine (Suboxone).
  • 12-step programs: Popular support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) use a 12-step program to help you in your recovery journey. These programs are free and often available in most areas.

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How Dangerous is Speed Abuse?

Abusing speed poses significant risks with potentially irreversible damage. Key dangers include:

  • Long-term damage: Abuse can lead to long-lasting harm that may not be reversible
  • Risk of infection: Injecting speed increases the risk of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis B
  • Brain and cardiovascular damage: Severe damage to the brain and cardiovascular system can occur, leading to hyperthermia, cardiovascular collapse, and convulsions

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 Side Effects of Speed?

After taking speed, you'll experience a pleasurable rush almost immediately. The side effects last 4 to 8 hours.1,2

The likelihood of experiencing side effects increases with chronic use or higher doses. The adverse side effects of methamphetamines include:1

  • Increased activity and body temperature
  • Increased breathing rate, heart rate, and elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Focus (wide-awake feeling)
  • Increased libido
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • An overall sense of well-being
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss, which can lead to malnutrition

Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms of Speed Consumption

In addition to the physical side effects, the drug produces several behavioral and emotional symptoms. These include:1

  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness

Severe Side Effects of Speed

Methamphetamine can significantly affect the central nervous system, especially crystal meth. In particular, the drug damages blood vessels in the brain, triggering strokes.

Speed abuse also causes:1

  • Malnutrition
  • Severe tooth decay or “meth mouth”
  • Intense itching that can lead to scratching and picking, resulting in “meth sores
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Lung, kidney, and liver damage
  • Irregular heartbeat or fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Confusion
  • Brain cell damage, causing symptoms that are similar to Parkinson's disease
  • Violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Symptoms similar to schizophrenia

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 serious overdose. Symptoms of a speed overdose or amphetamine toxicity include:4

  • Chest pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Convulsions or spasms
  • Hyperthermia
  • Abnormal breathing

An overdose can be potentially life-threatening. Contact a medical professional immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose.

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Speed Addiction?

Withdrawal symptoms are the physical and psychological effects that occur when you stop using a drug. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors, including:

  • How much speed you've been using
  • How often you use it
  • Your overall health and any underlying medical conditions
  • If you have co-occurring disorders, such as mental health issues or substance abuse

Common withdrawal symptoms of speed overdose include:1

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Psychosis
  • Intense drug cravings

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What is Speed?

Speed or methamphetamine is an illicit stimulant and a Schedule II controlled substance. This means the drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction.1,2

However, methamphetamine has medicinal uses and is available through prescription. Prescription amphetamines treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1,2

Due to its harmful effects and risk of drug abuse, you should only take methamphetamines under a qualified medical professional’s supervision. It's essential to approach speed and other similar stimulants with caution.

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:

  • Obsessive thoughts and preoccupation with obtaining and using the drug
  • Continuing to use despite negative consequences (e.g., strained relationships, job loss)
  • A constant desire for more of the drug, leading to increased dosages or frequency of use
  • Extreme weight loss or signs of malnutrition
  • Deterioration in physical appearance and hygiene
  • Secretive behavior around drug use
  • Change in social circles and spending time with other substance users
  • Financial difficulties due to spending money on drugs

How Does Speed Work?

Speed is chemically similar to amphetamines, which increase the amount of neurotransmitters like dopamine in your brain. It heightens brain activity, improves focus, and amplifies feelings of euphoria, physical energy, and coordination.1

However, speed also increases serotonin levels and crosses the brain-blood barrier. This makes it more potent and longer-lasting compared to other amphetamine drugs.1,3

The sudden release of dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters causes intense pleasure and euphoria. These intense feelings can lead to dangerous drug use and addiction.

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:3

  • 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

It’s hazardous to mix speed with drugs that increase your serotonin, like antidepressants, because it increases the risk of serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a dangerous condition that can be life-threatening.3

Common Questions on Speed Addiction

What does speed look like?

Speed is a white powder with no odor and a bitter taste. Its base form is purer and has a pinkish-grey color with a putty-like texture.

The powder form can sometimes have an off-white or pinkish color. Different forms of speed include tablets, pills, liquid, and crystals (crystal meth).

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 does speed addiction start?

Speed addiction can start from using the drug recreationally, using it to cope with intense emotions and experiences, or from misusing a prescription for the drug.

Regardless of how it starts, you should address and treat speed addiction promptly to avoid further harm and complications.

How do people consume speed?

People take speed by snorting, swallowing, injecting, smoking, or bombing. Bombing means 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?

Taking speed is similar to using other stimulant drugs. Its chemical structure differs, but these drugs' psychological and behavioral results tend to be similar.5

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 also increases dopamine release.5


Speed is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can have severe and dangerous effects on the body. It's essential to understand the risks of abusing this drug and seek appropriate treatment if you or someone you know is struggling with speed addiction.

If you suspect an overdose, seek immediate medical attention. Avoid taking speed with other drugs, as it can lead to harmful interactions and potentially life-threatening conditions.

If you or a loved one is struggling with speed addiction, reach out for professional help today to start the journey towards recovery. Overcoming addiction is possible with the right support and treatment.

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Updated on November 27, 2023

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