Amphetamines are synthetic stimulant drugs; In layman’s terms, they are lab-created substances that speed up the workings of the brain. There are legal (prescribed by a doctor) and illegal amphetamines.

What are Amphetamines?

Long-term misuse of amphetamines can lead to serious problems, including changes to the brain, cardiovascular damage, malnutrition and anxiety and paranoia. (1)

The Amphetamine class of drugs, or Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) includes amphetamine, methylamphetamine, dexamphetamine, amphetamine analogues and amphetamines not elsewhere classified. (1)

Download the Amphetamines Drug Fact Sheet

Common Street Names

Addies, Bennies, Black Beauties, Crosses, Crank, Goey, Hearts, LA Turnaround, Louee, Rack, Speed, Truck Drivers, Up, Uppers, Whiz. (2)


Amphetamines are readily available in Australia. Findings from the 2019 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) showed that the majority of people who inject drugs and use these types of stimulants report that it is ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to obtain. (3)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (4)

In 2018–19, just over a third of national illicit drug seizures (38,250 or 34.0%) were for ATS. The number of national ATS seizures has increased by 263% over the last decade. Of this, 32,021 were for amphetamines specifically, which is close to 84% of the total number. (5)

How Amphetamines are used and how to identify them

Amphetamines are generally ingested by the user through an act of swallowing, injecting, smoking, or snorting. As the drug is both legally and illegally attainable, how it presents is also variable:

  • It may be packaged in pill bottles or blister strips if sourced legally, and small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil if sourced illegally.
  • In powder or crystal form, it may have a white, off-white, or a pinkish hue.
  • Stronger variants of the drug are available as a paste, putty, or oily liquid.
  • Tablets or capsules are a common delivery method for Amphetamines. These come in a wide range of sizes and colours, with various markings either stamped or printed on the external surface. As the drug may be medically prescribed, or available illegally, it can be difficult to identify specific visual characteristics that distinguish legal from illegal variants. (6)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of ATS’:

  • Abnormally violent behaviour, and/or an increase in the severity or frequency of aggressive behaviour.
  • Snorting amphetamines can damage the nasal passage, thus regular nose bleeds in a user may be an indicator of persistent use.
  • Drastic and/or sudden changes in demeanour (happiness and confidence)
  • Talking more and displaying boundless energy, then suddenly crashing
  • Enlarged pupils and dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • A reduced appetite
  • Increased sex drive and lower inhibitions

What are the symptoms of somebody who is coming down?

Users may exhibit the following behaviours for up to 4 days whilst coming down from a drug induced high:

  • Restless sleep and exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, and confusion
  • Twitching and muscle aches
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Nausea
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Using a depressant drug such as alcohol, Benzodiazepines, or cannabis to help with the come down effects may result in a cycle of dependence on both types of drugs. (7)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of amphetamines, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Amphetamines are used for therapeutic purposes to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but are also abused non-medically.
  • Amphetamines refers to a broad category of substances. According to the Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern (ASCDC), this includes amphetamine, methylamphetamine, dexamphetamine, amphetamine analogues and amphetamines not elsewhere classified. (8)
  • Amphetamine use was responsible for 0.6% of the total burden of disease and injuries in Australia in 2015 and 21% of the total burden due to illicit drug use. (9)
  • Of the burden due to amphetamine use, drug use disorder (excluding alcohol) contributed 28%, poisoning 5% and suicide and self-inflicted injuries 4.3%. Other contributors to the burden due to amphetamine use included road traffic injuries—motorcyclists (3.2%) and road traffic injuries—motor vehicle occupants (2.5%). This illustrates that not only may your employees be at risk at work, but also during their commute to and from the place of employment. (9)
  • There was little variation in the recent use of meth/amphetamine for those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas compared with those living in the highest socioeconomic areas (1.4% and 1.5%, respectively). This finding was still apparent after adjusting for differences in age. This statistic confirms that drug abuse can affect employees from any given industry, and at all levels of an organisation. (9)

What does an Amphetamine Overdose look like?

Amphetamines speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Some signs of a stimulant type drug overdose are:

  • Hallucinations and paranoid delusions
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Hyperthermia
  • Delirium
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration and urine retention
  • Rapid speech and increased resonance
  • Unnecessary repetition of tasks
  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Restlessness
  • Dilated pupils that react slowly to light
  • Repetitive movement, pacing, or muscle tremors. (10)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  • Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  • Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  • Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  • If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  • Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(11)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(12)
Drug Urine Sweat Oral Blood
Amphetamine 1-3 days 1-4 days 12 hours 2 days
Methamphetamine 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days
MDMA 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 1 day
THC 1-30 days 1-4 days 12-24 hours 2-3 days
Cocaine 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days
Heroin 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download

Queensland – Download

Victoria – Download

Australian Capital Territory – Visit

South Australia – Download

Northern Territory – Visit

Western Australia – Download

Tasmania – Download

Works Cited

  1. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  2. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020.
  3. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2019: Key findings from the National Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, 2019.
  4. —. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Amphetamine Fact Sheet. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] January 11, 2021. [Cited: January 19, 2021.]
  7. Better Health. Amphetamines. Better Health . [Online] Victoria State Government, November 2018. [Cited: January 19, 2021.]
  8. ABS. 1248.0 – Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern, 2011 . Australian Bureau of Staistics. [Online] July 6, 2011.
  9. AIHW. Australian burden of disease study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019.
  10. American Addiction Centers. Amphetamine Overdose. American Addiction Centers. [Online] American Addiction Centers, August 19, 2020. [Cited: January 19, 2021.]
  11. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017.
  12. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.


The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

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About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.