Some consider it “the cocaine of the poor”, but in festive environments everyone knows it as speed, a methamphetamine whose chemical composition lowers the costs compared to cocaine and multiplies its stimulating effects. That is why more and more young people prefer to get high with the drug speed than with cocaine.
Thus, its consumption has skyrocketed and begins to overshadow cocaine itself, which continues to be the best-selling drug. However, medical authorities warn of the toxic effects of this drug .

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What is speed?
One of the phenomena of recent years is the multiplication of designer drugs and their spread among party environments. The new generation drugs offer an ever greater range of effects and sensations, but only speed is destined to unseat the queen of narcotic substances, cocaine, on the market.
Speed ​​is a central nervous system stimulant methamphetamine that gives the user a feeling of more energy (the typical high). Its effects are traced to those of cocaine, only with more intensity and duration.
In addition to being more “effective” than cocaine, whose increasingly recurrent adulteration makes it lose quality, the speed is much cheaper : around 20 euros per gram for 60 of cocaine.
In fact, speed is a very old drug, around 100 years old, and has been used for various purposes throughout its history: as a stimulant for soldiers in war, as an appetite suppressant for slimming therapies, as an energetic for hard physical work or even as a brain activity activator for students.
It was sold in pharmacies, but since 1986 its use was prohibited in Spain and it became an illegal drug.

Effects of speed
Amphetamine sulfate or speed is mostly sold in powder formand, therefore, it is consumed by snorting, although it can also be presented in pill form and consumed orally. One of the characteristics of this drug is the low quality of its production, since it is usually cut with other elements such as caffeine, lactose, mannitol, ephedrine, etc.
Once sniffed, speed immediately offers several symptoms:

1. Vasodilation
The philosophy of speed is in its very name: “speed” means fast in English, that is, acceleration. What it produces is an acceleration of the main organic functions and an activation of the central nervous system, which gives the effect of the famous high. As its main function, it also multiplies the effects of alcohol.
Once consumed, amphetamine sulfate has the immediate reaction of dilating blood vessels and increasing blood pressure. The user feels these effects with the acceleration of respiration and the increase in body temperature.

2. Sensation of euphoria
Together with the consumption of alcohol, speed produces a feeling of euphoria and excitement in the consumer . That is why the main function of this drug for those who consume it is to get a boost of energy and prolong the party.
When you snort the speed you notice a decrease in tiredness and you feel more like dancing, doing any activity or maintaining high social communication. Unlike cocaine, a smaller dose of speed is usually needed to achieve similar effects.

3. Involuntary movements
It also happens with cocaine, and once the drug has been ingested and the maximum high point is reached, the consumer can make some involuntary movements. These are, above all, an involuntary chewing with the jaw .
However, in normal doses and without taking into account the possible effects of alcohol, with speed the user is always aware of his actions and has no psychotropic or hallucinogenic effects .

4. Deceleration
When the effects of speed disappear, the so-called slump occurs, which would be likea gradual deceleration in which the effects are disappearing . The most obvious consequences of this process is the appearance of physical and psychological fatigue, dry mouth and apathy.
Speed ​​multiplies the stimulant effects of cocaine. | Image by: Greta Scholderle Moller.
The subject enters a phase of slight depression caused by the disappearance of the stimulant effects, at the same time that the heart rate drops , breathing recovers its normal rhythm and dilation of the vessels is reduced.

5. Insomnia
One of the most common symptoms of speed is difficulty sleeping when the subject is under its effects, an extreme that high-quality cocaine manages to counteract. In other words, when cocaine use is abruptly interrupted, it is easier to fall asleep than when speed has been used .

How long does the effect of speed last?
The duration can vary depending on the physical constitution of the consumer, the amount consumed, the conditions, the combination with alcohol or other drugs, etc. But it is estimated that the effects can last more than 12 hours, much longer than cocaine, and it remains in the body for 1 to 3 days.

Risks of speed
The medical community warns of the damage that speed can cause, whose chemical composition adulterated with various components makes it especially aggressive for the body. These are some of the high risks that it presents:

1. Intoxication
Although it seems that it produces positive effects in the person who takes it, who is euphoric and full of energy, in reality it can easily produce irritability and periods of aggressiveness .
By inhibiting feelings of stress or danger, people who consume it can engage in risky behaviors that put them in danger. It also increases the person’s ability to ingest alcohol, which can lead to a collapse due to intoxication.

2. Tachycardia
As we have already seen, speed automatically alters vital signs and revolutionizes organic functions. The immediate effect is an acceleration of the heart rate. In large doses the user can experience dangerous tachycardia accompanied by sweating and possible anxiety attacks.
Heart attack and death are not ruled out in some cases, although this is more frequent when speed is consumed intravenously.

3. Addiction

Speed ​​is one of the most addictive drugs along with cocaine. In fact, although it is considered to have more prolonged and intense effects than this, it has not been proven that speed is more addictive than coke.

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The reason for its high addictive capacity is that it releases a large amount of dopamine (the main neurotransmitter of dependence) . Although it is usually taken only at parties in a playful and spontaneous way (and not daily), very few doses are needed to create a physical dependence.
When speed is consumed frequently, the brain begins to need larger and larger doses. One of the main consequences is depression.

4. Depression
One of the keys to this type of drug is that the negative effects begin to appear, especially in the long term, while the immediate sensation is one of pleasure.
One of the functions of dopamine is to generate pleasure, and that is why when speed activates this substance within our bodywe feel satisfied, gratified, happy . However, what we are doing is tricking the brain.
When we stop providing our brain with those extra doses of dopamine that speed offers, the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction decreases even when we perform pleasurable activities. The feeling of not enjoying anything increases until a deep depressive condition develops.

5. Psychosis and anxiety
Also in the long term , an amphetamine toxic psychosis can develop , a mental illness similar to schizophrenia that subjects the subject to periods of psychotic disorder: hallucinations, delusions, aggressiveness, dissociation from reality, etc.
Initially, this psychosis disappears when the drug is stopped, but in extreme cases it can lead to a chronic disorder .
In other cases , the consumption of speed can generate an anxiety disorder in which the person is paralyzed by fear and enters a situation of collapse, with breathing difficulties, sweating, palpitations, etc.

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