What is the Speed Drug?

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Speed drug is one of many names for meth, a powerfully addictive stimulant.

Data from NDSUH 2020 shows that 2.5 million people in the United States used speed in the previous year. Among those, 1.5 million subsequently developed a speed-related substance use disorder. Fortunately, almost one-third of those engaged with professional addiction treatment.

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What Drug is Speed?

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, is a potent CNS stimulant. Although speed is chemically similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine induces more pronounced CNS side effects. 

Originally prescribed as a decongestant, meth was once legally available in tablet or injectable forms in the U.S. the widespread abuse of speed products for their stimulant effects led the FDA to regulate speed as a Schedule II drug under the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) in 1970. 

Like all Schedule II substances, speed has a strong potential for abuse. Methamphetamine products are now legally available only by prescription. 

Like all CNS stimulants, using speed can trigger the following side effects: 

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Raised heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Accelerated breathing rate

In higher doses, speed can induce temporary hyperactivity, tremors, irritability, anxiety, aggressiveness, and paranoia. 

Using speed can damage blood vessels in the brain. Sometimes, this damage is irreversible and can lead to a stroke. This complication can be fatal in the event of convulsions, hyperthermia, and cardiovascular collapse. 

The chronic use of speed in high doses leads to an increased risk of hallucinations, erratic or violent behaviors. Sustained meth abuse can also lead to the development of a psychosis similar to schizophrenia. In some cases, psychotic episodes recur after speed abuse has stopped. 

The other primary adverse health outcomes associated with speed abuse and addiction include: 

  • Meth mouth (rotted teeth)
  • Weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Malnutrition

Those injecting speed and sharing equipment are at increased risk of transmitting or acquiring HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. 

An image of someone seeking addiction help after learning about the effects of abusing the speed drug

Getting Help for Addiction

Abusing speed is liable to lead to addiction in the form of stimulant use disorder. Like all substance use disorders, stimulant use disorder is diagnosed using the criteria in APA’s DSM-5-TR

Although there is robust and ongoing research into the treatment of speed addiction, there are currently no medications approved by the FDA to streamline detox and recovery. 

Fortunately, many behavioral interventions can be effective for inhibiting further speed use and for promoting ongoing recovery.

Two of the most effective interventions are CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CM (contingency management). 

CBT allows you to work closely with a therapist to explore what triggers you to use speed. Additionally, you’ll learn a selection of healthy coping skills so you can deal with life’s stressors without resorting to meth. 

Contingency management incentivizes positive behaviors like passing a drug test at rehab with small rewards like cash or vouchers. Speed damages the reward system in the brain and adversely impacts dopamine levels. CM helps by rewarding you for healthy behaviors, encouraging ongoing sobriety.

image of woman on beach representing phases of recovery

Addiction Recovery at California Detox

At California Detox, we offer addiction treatment programs at all levels of intensity. Choose from the following according to the scope and severity of your speed addiction: 

  • OP (outpatient program)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)
  • Residential rehab

If you are suffering from speed addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition, our dual diagnosis treatment program will provide you with integrated treatment of both conditions.

Our beachside facility allows you to detox from speed with around-the-clock clinical and emotional care. 

Once detoxed, you can fight back against addiction to meth through the following therapies: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

If you want to reclaim your life from active addiction to the sped drug, reach out to California Detox today at 949.567.8790.


When abused, methamphetamine goes by many names, including: speed, meth, crystal, chalk, and more.
Speed is abused using the following methods: smoking, snorting, injecting, ingesting, and more.


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