What are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are a group of drugs commonly referred to as speed. They speed up or stimulate the activity of certain chemicals in the brain and are classed as stimulants. Methamphetamine, also known as ice, is a potent form of amphetamine, and has been gaining popularity in Hong Kong since the early 1990s.


Amphetamines bought on the street are usually in the form of white powder, tablets or liquid in capsules. Ice is sold as transparent crystals. They can be swallowed, injected, smoked, or inhaled.



Short-Term Effects

  • Feeling good and confident

  • Feeling alert and energetic

  • Increased talking

  • Reduced appetite

  • Dry mouth

  • Sleeplessness

  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing

  • Enlarged pupils

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Threatening behaviour



Long-Term Effects

  • Tolerance of amphetamines

  • Dependency

  • Periods of psychosis

  • High blood pressure causing stroke

  • Malnutrition

  • Reduced resistance to infection

  • Violence

  • Anxiety and panic attacks



Effects of Large Doses or Overdose

  • Restlessness

  • Irritability

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Shaking

  • Fever

  • Stomach cramps

  • Fast or irregular heart rate

  • Heart attack

  • Increased energy, delayed fatigue

  • Feeling powerful, aggressive, hostile

  • Bleeding in the brain

  • Psychosis, where the person hears and/or imagines things, and fears that others want to hurt him/her

  • Death (rare, but possible, due to a heart attack, stroke or seizure)



Withdrawal Symptoms

People who are dependent on amphetamines may find it difficult to decrease usage or to stop using them, because of the withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Cravings

  • Hunger

  • Anger or feeling upset

  • Fatigue

  • Long, but disturbed sleep

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

These symptoms are usually fairly short-lived.



Mixing Amphetamines with Other Drugs

People sometimes take amphetamines and other drugs at the same time to cope with some of the effects amphetamines have on the body. Some take sleep-inducing drugs, alcohol or cannabis to help them sleep after using amphetamines. This can make users dependent on several drugs at a time, leading to many serious physical and psychological problems. It can also make a person more likely to overdose.



For detailed information, please refer to the following websites:

Community Drug Advisory Council



Institute of Mental Health Castle Peak Hospital



Narcotics Division, Security Bureau



Hong Kong Police Force