What are Amphetamines?

What are Amphetamines?

Used as a stimulant, amphetamines are illegal, synthetically created drugs that are often found on the street under various names including whizz, base, sulph, billy, white, and most commonly speed or uppers. A highly addictive substance, amphetamine sold on the street is a sulphate derivative that created in laboratories.

While pure amphetamine sulphate can be extremely expensive, those who push amphetamine on the street often “cut” their amphetamine with other substances, ranging from talcum powder (like that found in baby powder) and rat poison to the point that only 5% of the drug that makes it in the hands of addicts is actually the amphetamine itself; the rest is (useless and often dangerous) filler.

On the streets, amphetamine usually appears as a pink, white, grey or yellowish powder. It is often supplied as pills or in the form of a grey putty-like substance known as paste. Generally the drug is sold wrapped in little pieces of paper (wraps).

A Home Office study from 2016 identified Amphetamine as the the fourth most popular illegal drug in England and Wales. In that survey, the statistics show that 1 in 10 adults aged 16 to 59 said that they had used amphetamine at some point in their lives (10.3%). 0.6% of 16 to 59 year olds reported that they had used amphetamines in the previous 12 months.

How Do You Identify Amphetamines?

Typically amphetamine will be found in its powdered form as this allows dealers to easily mix it in with similarly white or grey coloured substance. When sold, amphetamine is usually dealt in very small quantities at a time. As a result, the drug is usually distributed in extremely small papers known as a wrap so users can carry an inconspicuous amount with them

How Are Amphetamines Taken?

Because the most common form of distribution is through a powdered form, amphetamines can be taken in a large variety of ways. For the fastest results users will snort the powder which can ultimately damage (or ruin) the sensitive membrane lining within the nose or they turn the powder into an injectable form which runs the risk of contracting HIV and other disease due to needle use. Amphetamines are also taken by mixing the powder in with a drink or sprinkling the powder onto marijuana and smoking it as a joint.

How Do Amphetamines Affect Users in the Short Term?

The most notable affect the drug has when it is taken, especially by snorting or injecting it into the user’s body, is a near instant boost in energy and alertness. This will then increase the speed of everything else within the body, including the user’s blood pressure, heart rating, and rate that they breathe.

Amphetamines are also a strong appetite suppressant which means users can typically go for very long periods of time at a pace that is too tough on their bodies and not get the fuel necessary, leading to extreme exhaustion.

Amphetamines work by manipulating the body’s central nervous system there is a chance that users will experience hallucinations, quick on-set of fear, paranoia, and panic when they take the drug.

How Do Amphetamines Affect Users in the Long Term?

The drug itself can eventually do permanent damage to the central nervous system and leave addicts constantly struggling to get over anxiety, tension, and depression. Random bouts of paranoia and fatigue can set it even when no longer on the drug, and heavy use can eventually lead to the onset of mental illness. Because the strain on the heart is increased during use and blood pressure is elevated, users have a higher chance of heart disease and stroke than non-users.

Amphetamines are a highly addictive substance which can easily lead to addiction. Users that have been addicted to the drug and attempt to quit will also have to deal with withdrawal symptoms—these include extreme fatigue, life-threatening depression, painful cramps, and fever.

What Class of Drug Are Amphetamines Considered?

In the most widely distributed powdered form, amphetamines are classified as a class B drug. This means anyone caught in possession with the substance can face a large fine and up to 5 years in prison.  Distributors will face a larger fine and 14 years in prison.

If the amphetamines that are found were intended for injection, possession and distribution chargers are classified as a class A drug and the penalties will increase accordingly.

Amphetamine Drug Testing

Various type of drug test kits are available for amphetamine drug testing. A single drug test for amphetamine is available. This is a urine drug test. Amphetamine can also be detected by multi-parameter drug test kits which are designed to detect more than one drug at once. Popular version of this type of drugs test include the 7 panel drug test kit and the 12 panel drug screen.

Photo Credit: Liam Skoda at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2013.