What is speed? Speed is amphetamine, a stimulating drug that triggers the brain’s reward system giving the user feelings of pleasure. Speed also goes by the street names “Ice, Crystal meth and Shabu” 2 The drug works using Dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is used in all matters of the brain from learning to attentiveness. However, the most prominent usage of dopamine is to incite the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is released in the brain naturally when people eat, drink and have sex. 1 Dopamine is released into the synaptic space in between the pre and postsynaptic neurons. Here is where speed comes in. Speed’s goal (Speed doesn’t really have a goal it merely exists, but this is the reason people use it) is to trigger a buildup of Dopamine. Speed first enters the Terminal Button in one of several ways. Speed is very similar on a molecular level to Dopamine so Speed can enter the Dopamine transporter or speed can diffuse into the neuron. The amphetamine then expels the dopamine out into the synaptic space. It does this through a process that forces the Dopamine transporters to go in reverse. Under natural circumstances Dopamine is brought back into the terminal button through the Dopamine reuptake pumps. These pumps do not work as well when speed is present in the brain and the Dopamine remains longer as a result. “Speed also
monoamine oxydase A (MAO-A).”1 Speed also forces glutamate to come into the synaptic space. The result of this is dopamine will flow more easily.
The effects people notice with amphetamines make it clear why the drug has earned the name speed. Speed makes everything go faster. When on the drug, which can be taken in forms of powder, pills and injections, “your heart rate… blood pressure and movements all increase in speed
.” 2 It also makes sleep difficult. The size of the user’s pupils increase and weight loss becomes easier. While the user is “high” off the drug he or she can expect “to feel good, be more willing to
take risks and be excited”.2 Speed’s long-term effects are for the most part similar to many other drugs. Speed causes depression, personal problems, anger and violence. Speed is also addicting. There is one more side effect that is more unique to the drug. This side effect is coined psychosis. Psychosis is a serious psychological problem. People that suffer from it hear voices in their head, become delusional and paranoid. Psychosis victims are known to see things that aren’t there and often feel that ordinary objects and people want to hurt them.4. In Requiem for a Dream a movie about the downward spiral instigated by drugs, An elder widow is prescribed diet pills, which are speed. When she becomes addicted she believes her refrigerator is trying to kill her.3 Amphetamines although possibly more enjoyable then other drugs also negatively affect you sooner. 3 Fevers, heart attacks and death are all possible results of the use of speed.2