Amphetamines belong to a group of drugs called stimulants. Amphetamines speed up the messages going between the brain and the body.

Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep).

Some people use amphetamines illegally to become intoxicated. Amphetamines are sometimes produced in backyard laboratories and mixed with other substances that can have unpleasant or harmful effects.

Other names

Common names for amphetamines are speed, fast, up, uppers, louee, goey and whiz.

Crystal methamphetamine is also known as ice, shabu, crystal meth, or glass.

What do amphetamines look like?

Amphetamines are a family of related drugs. They can be in the form of a powder, tablets, capsules or crystals. They may be packaged in “foils” (aluminium foil), plastic bags or small balloons when sold illegally.

Amphetamine powder can range in colour from white through to brown; sometimes it may be orange or dark purple. It has a strong smell and bitter taste.

Amphetamine capsules and tablets vary considerably in colour. They can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar.

Crystal methamphetamine, a potent form of amphetamine, generally comes in large, sheet-like crystals, or as a crystalline powder.

How and why are they used?

Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also snorted.

People use amphetamines for different reasons. Some use the drugs to get “high” and dance all night. Others use them to help stay awake for long periods, to improve performance in sport or at work, or to boost their self-confidence. Amphetamines can reduce tiredness and increase endurance.

For more information, please click on the Australian Drug Foundation's DrugInfo Clearinghouse web site link below.
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Last Reviewed: 27/01/2012

Reproduced with kind permission from the Australian Drug Foundation.


References

Australian Drug Foundation. Drug Info. Amphetamine Facts. Last updated 27 Jan 2012. http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/amphetamines (accessed Jan 2013).