The suggestions in this guide are intended as just that: suggestions. We all have our own ways of doing things, and our own experiences with the drug, the high, and practicing harm reduction. Overamping can be harmful — either physically, mentally or both — and the intention of this guide to help us think of ways to lessen that harm.
What is Overamping?
What is overamping? Overamping is the term we use to describe what one might consider an “overdose” on speed. Overamping means a lot of things to a lot of people. Sometimes it is physical, when our bodies don’t feel right. Other times it is psychological, like paranoia, anxiety or psychosis — or a mixture of the two. It’s complicated because sometimes one person will consider something overamping, and the other person actually considers it just part of the high, or maybe even enjoys a feeling that someone else hates. There are many different definitions of overamping, but we’ve tried to simplify it down to some common elements.
Overamping can happen for a lot of different reasons: you’ve been up for too long (sleep deprivation), your body is worn down from not eating or drinking enough water, you’re in a weird or uncomfortable environment or with people that are sketching you out, you did “that one hit too many,” you mixed some other drugs with your speed that have sent you into a bad place — whatever the reason, it can be dangerous and scary to feel overamped. Is overamping an overdose? Most of the time, when we hear the word overdose, we think of heroin, someone in a heavy nod, turning blue, not breathing. A lot of times people say “you can’t overdose on speed,” but then other people say, “I don’t know, I’ve passed out, or felt like I was gonna have a heart attack…is that an overdose?” The problem is actually with the word itself. “Overdose” isn’t really the best word to describe what happens when tweak turns bad…so we call it OVERAMPING. Even the term “overdose” makes it sound like taking too much is the problem. With speed (unlike some drugs like heroin) it is much more unpredictable, overamping might happen regardless of how much or little you use, or how long you’ve been using. It might happen on the third day of a run when your body is getting run down, or when you get high with some people that make you feel weird.
Psychological Symptoms of Overamping:
Extreme anxiety • Panic • Extreme paranoia • Hallucinations • Extreme agitation • Increased aggressiveness • Agitation, restlessness, irritability • Hypervigilance (being super aware of your environment, sounds, people, etc.) • Enhanced sensory awareness • Suspiciousness
How to deal with the psychological aspects of overamping?
If you are confident that the problem is not medical in nature (seizure, stroke, heart attack, overheating), but that you or your friend is experiencing anxiety or other psychological symptoms of overamping there are things you can do as well.Here are some things that some fellow users have tried, and they worked! You may have your own methods of relaxing or getting yourself out of a bad space. Do whatever works, and share your strategies with friends.
• Drink water or a sports drink; eat some food
• Try to sleep (scientists have found a song that’s proven to reduce anxiety and help you fall asleep better than others) Click Here for the song : This-8-minute-song-is-scientifically-proven-to-help-you-fall-asleep-faster/
• Switch how you’re doing your speed; sometimes if you’re shooting, switching to smoking can help
• Change your environment or the people you’re with
• Do breathing or meditation exercises: Breath exercises that relieve anxiety & insomnia
• Create physical contact, like massaging yourself or having someone else do it for you
• Go walking, walking, walking — walk it off!
• Take a warm shower
• Get some fresh air.
Physical Symptoms of Overamping:
• Nausea and/or vomiting • Falling asleep/passing out (but still breathing) • Chest pain or a tightening in the chest • High temperature/sweating profusely, often with chills • Fast heart rate, racing pulse • Irregular breathing or shortness of breath • Seizure/convulsions • Stroke • Limb jerking or rigidity • Feeling paralyzed but you are awake • Severe headache • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure) • Teeth grinding • Insomnia or decreased need for sleep • Tremors
For overheating (Hyperthermia)
Overheating, or “hyperthermia” can be deadly. If you notice someone overheating get them to slow down and stop agitated movements and try to cool down with ice packs, mist and fan techniques. Hot, dry skin is a typical sign of hyperthermia. The skin may become red and hot as blood vessels dilate in an attempt to get rid of excess heat, sometimes leading to swollen lips. Make sure they are drinking water or a sports drink with electrolytes so they don’t dehydrate. Place cool, wet cloths under the armpits on back of knees, and/or on the forehead. Open a window for fresh air.
Symptoms of a general seizure are:
• Drooling or frothing at the mouth
• Grunting and snorting
• Tingling or twitching in one part of the body
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
• Sudden falling
• Loss of consciousness
• Temporary absence of breathing
• Entire body stiffening
• Uncontrollable muscle spasms with twitching and jerking limbs
• Head or eye deviation (fixed in one direction)
• Aura before the seizure which may be described as sudden fear or anxiety, a feeling of nausea, change in vision, dizziness, or an obnoxious smell (not as common with drug-related seizures).
• Skin color may be very red or bluish.
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE HAS A SEIZURE:
• DO remain calm, be a good observer. Speak calmly and softly to the person.
• DO help the person into a lying position and put something soft under the head.
• DO turn the person to one side (if possible) to allow saliva to drain from the mouth. (If not possible during the seizure, do so once the seizure has stopped).
• DO remove glasses; loosen ties, collars and tight clothing.
• DO protect the head and body by clearing the area of hard or sharp objects.
• DO NOT force anything into the person’s mouth or between their teeth. This is an old myth — people cannot swallow their own tongues. You can harm yourself trying to put things in their mouth, and you can also break their teeth or cause other harms to the person.
• DO NOT try to restrain the person. You cannot stop the seizure.
After the seizure:
• DO arrange to have someone stay nearby until the person is fully awake.
• DO clear the airway of saliva and /or vomit.
• DO allow the person to rest. Most people will sleep soundly for a period of time following the seizure.
• DO NOT offer any food or drink until the person is fully awake.
Call 911 if:
• The seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes
• The person has one seizure right after another
• The person appears to be injured
• The person does not regain consciousness
• This is a first-time seizure
• The person’s color remains poor
• The person does not start breathing within one minute after the seizure has stopped (Start CPR)
For Possible Strokes Strokes are caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain or a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and bleeds into the brain. The SYMPTOMS OF STROKE are distinct because they happen quickly:
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body) • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
FOR CARDIAC ARREST
“I’ve known several people that have died of cardiac arrest due to speed…it’s important to help people recognize what those events are when they’re happening because they can look like a lot of other things.” –Jesse
Even though a cardiac arrest may be related to drugs including meth, it will still look similar to a cardiac arrest that might not be drug-related. So keep an eye out for the same symptoms, although sometimes it may be tricky to figure out what is from the drug (sweating, for example) and what may be the signs of a cardiac arrest. Things to look out for:
• Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain located in the center of the chest. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they may come and go.
• Discomfort in other areas, such as the neck, arms, jaw, back, or stomach.
• Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
If the person has lost consciousness and you notice that they are not breathing, the most important thing you can do is call 911 immediately. After that, provide Basic Life Support if you are trained. Time is very important with cardiac arrest, so help your buddy!
Calling 911 can be lifesaving; it can also be a pretty unpleasant experience. Sometimes the first responders, whether they are police, fire or the ambulance can be great, other times they can be rude at best. There are lots of legitimate fears about calling 911, like getting arrested, having neighbors or landlords know your business, potential loss of benefits or housing if drug use is disclosed — and on and on. Drug users face a lot of stigma, which makes us very reluctant to call for help if we or our friends are in trouble. How to deal w/ the psychological aspects of over amping? The most important thing is to know your rights.
***In San Francisco, our police officers are not supposed to arrest people if they have called 911 for an overdose or drug-related emergency. If you feel safe doing so, remind the officers of this if they start giving you trouble. But, police also have a job to do, so don’t make it easier for them. Make sure if you do call, not to leave drugs or paraphernalia around in plain view. Try to keep the area calm and quiet, if there are a lot of people around, tell them to leave if possible so there’s not a big group when the cops, fire or ambulance get there. When you call, stick to the basics about what is physically happening to your friend: “My friend is having chest pains, or possibly a stroke.” NOT “My friend did a huge hit of speed and is acting crazy.” Don’t mention drugs or overdose, just stick to the symptoms that you see. Give them the address and hang up.