In The Know Zone


Amphetamines are nicknamed "speed" or "uppers" because of the burst of energy they provide. Abusers do not feel the need to sleep or eat when they are using. Some users also experience euphoria, a sense of well-being, and self-confidence. Users are usually talkative, and may be aggressive and paranoid, even at an early stage of use.

The desirable effects of amphetamines are not without a price. Users shortly build tolerance and dependence – addiction. Soon they need amphetamines to get through an ordinary day. In the meantime, the drugs do serious psychological and physical damage.

Short-term Effects

Amphetamines can be extremely dangerous or fatal from the first use. Users may die from burst blood vessels in the brain, heart failure, or super-elevated body temperature.

Common short-term effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Acne, sores
  • Dizziness and blurry vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking, tremors, etc.)
  • Fever, flushing, and sweating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Numbness
  • Impaired speech
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Irregular heartbeat


Amphetamine overdose is fairly common, which is probably due to abusers’ ever-increasing need for more and more of the drug (tolerance.) Abusers try to overcome their tolerance by escalating their use, they overdo it, and they overdose.

Amphetamine overdose is often fatal. Symptoms include:

  • Chills, fever, and sweating
  • Muscle spasms, including severely exaggerated arching of the back
  • Convulsions
  • Lack of urine output
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dilated pupils and blurred vision
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Elevated blood pressure, followed by a dramatic drop in blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Nervousness, irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Coma

Long-term Effects

Amphetamines cause a wide variety of potentially fatal damage to users’ mental and physical health. One of the most troubling effects of amphetamine abuse is the addiction itself, which can be life-altering. Withdrawal causes painful side effects, as well.


  • Amphetamine psychosis (see below)
  • Craving
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence


  • Craving
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Mental confusion
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Deep and disturbed sleep lasting up to 48 hours
  • Extreme hunger
  • Psychosis
  • Intense anxiety

Other serious, long-term damage caused by amphetamine abuse includes:

Gastrointestinal/Nutritional Damage

  • Malnutrition
  • Ulcers
  • Unwanted weight loss

Heart Disease

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlarged and/or weakened heart)
  • Heart attack

Neurological Damage

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Disturbed thought processes
  • Speech difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Psychological Damage

  • Hallucinations
  • Deep depression
  • Hypochondria (the false belief that one is physically ill)
  • Delusions of power or fame
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Stereotypic behaviors (odd repetitive movements or habits)
  • Psychosis: paranoia, bizarre and violent behavior

Danger to Newborns of Women Who Use During Pregnancy

  • Addiction and withdrawal
  • Cardiac defects
  • Cleft palate
  • Other physical abnormalities
  • Developmental delays
  • Neurological damage not detectable at birth

Other Damage

  • Liver damage
  • Impotence

In The Know: Substance Abuse Pamphlet/ DVD Package
"In the Know: Amphetamines, Excessive Speed" Pamphlet
In The Know: Substance Abuse DVD Package