Amphetamine (aka Speed, Wizz, Billy) is a drug first synthesized in the 1800’s by Romanian Chemist Lazae Edeleanu. At the same time, a Japanese organic Chemist, Nagai Nagayoshi, isolated ephedrine from the Chinese ephedra plant; this was later developed, and Methamphetamine was synthesized from ephedrine in the late 1800’s. At the time, there was no pharmacological use for either substances until 1934 when the well-known Smith, Kline, French started to sell an inhaler named Benzedrine for congestion.

Amphetamine and Methamphetamine had resurgence during World War II when they were used by both the Allied and Axis forces for the performance enhancing and stimulating effects on soldiers. Amphetamines were given to the troops to increase their alertness and to reduce appetite and fatigue. It is stated that German troops from April 1940 m- July 1940 were given more than 35 million methamphetamine pills, and some 72 million pills were given out by Britain throughout the war.

In the 1960’s, a part of the Mod subculture saw a rise in amphetamine use and one could say that this was the start of the all-night Northern Soul dances. Media reports from that time reported that dancers “emerged from clubs at 5am with dilated pupils”. Using amphetamines was seen as a “smart, on the ball, cool image” compared to the intoxication of being drunk on alcohol. At this time, amphetamine was easier to obtain. It wasn’t until 1971, under the Controlled Substances Act, that amphetamine became a Schedule II drug.

Amphetamine/Methamphetamine use in Popular Culture

Some notable figures have used amphetamine over the years, including mathematician Paul Erdos, who used it from 58 until his death at 83. Erdos was once bet $500 that he could not stop taking amphetamine for a month, and while Erdos won the bet he had this to say: “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict, but I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month”.

In more modern times, and amphetamines were extensively used in the 90’s rave scene. They were seen as a safer alternative to the emerging Ecstasy or MDMA that was becoming the rave culture’s drug of choice.

TV also greatly impacted the use of Methamphetamines, most notably the series “Breaking Bad”. The term “Party and Play” was another subculture, primarily and almost entirely men or homosexual men who met on dating websites to have sex. As Methamphetamine is known to increase the libido, increase the length and time for sexual play and also inhibit ejaculation, these parties can go on for days or weeks on end.

How Amphetamines are Consumed

Amphetamines are usually snorted/sniffed by the user, or wrapped in a cigarette paper and ‘bombed’. Whilst sniffing will give an instant hit, amphetamine snorting will cause damage to the lining of the nose, invariably causing nosebleeds. “Bombing” speed will usually be a safer option, but the “come up” will take a little longer, approximately 30+ minutes, depending on bodyweight and tolerance levels.

One of the fastest administration routes is smoking, but this can only be done with a freebase version like methamphetamine. It is usually smoked in a glass pipe or bowl and heated until the smoke rises.

Another route of administration is to inject, either intravenously or by intramuscular means. This is the most risky way to take ANY drug, let alone methamphetamine or amphetamine. The hit will be instant, the crash will be hard, and the long term risks will be greater. If injecting, you risk a pulmonary embolism (PE), meaning a block of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches. Other risks include infections and rashes to the skin. In addition to a PE, you risk catching and transmitting a blood borne virus (BBV), such as HIV, Hep C and Hep B.

A safer way to take your amphetamines is to use the rectal or intravaginal route. You may have heard the term ‘plugging’,’ butt-chugging’ or ‘booty-bumping’.

As Methamphetamine dissolves freely in water without the use of an acid to break the drug down it is easily prepared and administered.

If you are booty-bumping, then all you need is a needle-less syringe. You DO NOT use a needle, just the syringe.

Fill your syringe with the solution, lube up, and then lie on your side. Then insert the syringe and push the plunger. The solution will be absorbed and enter the bloodstream, causing a potential high. Please take care when injecting any drug; always try a smaller dose first and test the product for its strength and onset time.

Any form of drug taking comes with risks. Even the rectal administration comes with risks, such as:

- Increased risk of overdose

- Damage to the rectal tissue

- Persistent diarrhoea

- The risk of absorbing the cutting agents

These routes of administration are far less common with people who use drugs due to the lack of research. As many of our nerve endings are in the rectum, it stands to reason this will impact the drug's effects.

What are the risks with Methamphetamine, and how can you recognise that you have had too much?

Signs and Symptoms May Include:

- Paranoia

- Increased body temperature

- Rapid pulse

- Breathing issues

- Seizures

Then there’s the comedown, the crash, the drop from a great height. If you have been using for a prolonged period, let’s say a few days of a crazy sex party, and you haven’t eaten or drank any water, then the crash is going to be huge. You can expect the following:

- Anxiety

- Depression

- Suicidal Ideation

- Exhaustion

- Psychosis or delusions

- Hallucinations

Knowing When There’s a Problem

When things start getting on top of you, your use is getting seriously out of hand. If you find yourself continuously “topping up” to stop the comedown crash, then it’s time to get help. At this stage, speak to your local drug service.

There is no “magic” substitute for meth addiction; it’s about being strong and committed to staying off, digging deep within yourself for the inner strength required to quit the drug. If you have the strength and commitment to use for days on end, then you have the strength within you to abstain for days on end. It will be hard; the cravings to use again will be immense - but stay strong. You’ve got this.