What Does It Feel Like to Get High on Amphetamines or Speed?

Speed Makes You Happy, Then Sad

girl dancing at rave
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Amphetamines, or speed, are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs that get you high by "stimulating" the central nervous system. Physicians prescribe them for obesity, attention deficit disorder, narcolepsy and other health conditions.

Whether your amphetamine high is pleasant or unpleasant depends on a number of factors, including:

  • set and setting
  • past experiences using the drug
  • past experiences with other drugs
  • the mental health and well-being of the person taking the drug
  • how much you take
  • exposure to other substances, both prior to and during the period of intoxication on speed

While the feeling of getting high is different for everyone, and even for the same person at different times, there are certain common characteristics of an amphetamine buzz.

Amphetamines Increase Your Energy

Athletes and others like speed because it increases their energy and stamina. Soon after consuming amphetamines, users experience an increase in alertness and physical strength that makes them feel:

  • more powerful
  • enthusiastic
  • ready for anything

Amphetamines Prevent Drowsiness

Along with the increased energy, amphetamines prevent the normal phases of drowsiness and sleep. This is one of the reasons speed popular is among people who need to stay awake when they would normally be asleep, such as night shift workers and long-haul truck drivers.

It's also appealing to partygoers who want to stay awake or alert at night for recreational reasons, such as dancing at clubs or raves into the early morning hours.

Amphetamines Decrease Mental Performance

Unfortunately, the interference with sleep can become problematic when you use amphetamines for an extended period of time and during the hours when you would normally sleep.

Read Substance/Medication-Induced Sleep Disorder

Students use speed to cram for exams, but despite its ability to increase energy amphetamines do not improve cognitive processing and can actually cause a deterioration in mental performance. In addition, sleep deprivation interferes with learning and memory.

Amphetamines and Speedy Speech

While amphetamine users often believe speed improves their social and mental functioning, in fact, research shows amphetamines tend to simply speed up speech, at the expense of the accuracy of that speech. At times, people who are high on amphetamines can be socially annoying. They chatter incessantly and have trouble engaging in normal conversation because they can't listen to others.

Amphetamines Cause Mood Swings

Perhaps the most compelling reason people give for taking amphetamines is the temporarily elevated mood they often experience. The flip side of this good mood is that coming down often causes extreme depression, so amphetamines are not a good solution if you're already feeling down.

There is also a chance that taking amphetamines when you are in a bad mood will only make you irritable and/or anxious.

Read Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder

How Users Take Amphetamines

Amphetamines usually come as a pill. Either your physician prescribes them to you or you buy them from another source. Users ingest speed in a variety of ways, including:

  • dissolving it in water and injecting it with a needle
  • crushing and snorting it
  • smoking it in a glass pipe
  • swallowing it just like other medications

Sources:

Ersche, K.D., Clark, L., London, M., Robbins, T.W., and Sahakian, B.J. Profile of executive and memory function associated with amphetamine and opiate dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology, 31, 1036–1047. 2006.

Reske, Martina, Eidt, Carolyn A., Delis, Dean C., Paulus, Martin P. Nondependent stimulant users of cocaine and prescription amphetamines show verbal learning and memory deficits. Biological Psychiatry, 68(8), 762-769. 2010.

Reske, M., Delis, D.C., and Paulus, M.P. Evidence for subtle verbal fluency deficits in occasional stimulant users: quick to play loose with verbal rules. Journal of Psychiatric Research 45 (3), 361-8. 2011.

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