What Are Methamphetamines?

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive narcotic that is seldom used for prescription purposes at this time, due to the dangers of addiction and its serious long-term effects on the brain.

Created in 1887 as amphetamine and later (1893) synthesized with ephedrine to create methamphetamine, this drug was historically used for weight loss and treatment of ADHD. Also used by the military of several nations during World War II, methamphetamine use and the side effects it produces are given wide berth in the medical community. Methamphetamine operates on the brain by producing a surge of dopamine production, giving the user a sense of euphoria, lasting up to 12 hours, depending on the method of use and the amount. The sense of well-being produced becomes a let-down when the effects of the drug wear off, creating the desire to repeat usage, and developing into habitual, then chronic use.

The Basics

What it is, what does it look like, how is it taken, what happens with abuse?

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II narcotic by federal classification. Its chemical makeup is n-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine, labeled methamphetamine, methyl amphetamine, or desoxyephedrine. Methamphetamine is a highly-addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system, being similar in effect and creation to the drug amphetamine. Prescribed use of methamphetamine is limited to one fill, with a new prescription being necessary to obtain additional supplies. There are few medicinal uses of the drug, and it is infrequently prescribed, due to its many dangerous side effects, along with its tendency to become quickly addictive in the user. Most commonly, it is prescribed for treatment of ADHD, obesity and sometimes narcolepsy.

Effects of Methamphetamine

What it does, the physical and mental effects while high, what happens in the brain, aftereffects of using methamphetamine

The immediate effect of using methamphetamine by being snorted is a sensation of euphoria. The fast-acting effects produced when injected or smoked is an extreme pleasure sensation called a “rush” or “flash,” which lasts only a few minutes, but is highly pleasurable. This is created when intense levels of dopamine are released into the brain suddenly.

Methamphetamine Dosage and Amounts Taken

How much methamphetamine is in a dose? What is a lethal amount or overdose?

Doses of legal methamphetamine are normally 5 mg. for adults being treated for obesity. Doses for children, aged six years and older, are given at 5 mg. increments over several weeks, up to 20-25 mg. daily, which should be split into two doses daily. Doses used for other purposes are indeterminate and vary from user to user.

Dangers and Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse

Risk of overdose, increased heart rates and high blood pressure, what are the long-term effects of use?

Small doses of methamphetamine will result in several symptoms, which may include; high levels of alertness, leading to inability to sleep, hyperactivity, loss of appetite, aggressive behavior and irritability, nervous behaviors, anxiety, faster breathing, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and hyperthermia. Chronic and long-term usage affects brain function, by increasing the brain chemical dopamine and its reuptake, which floods the brain with this chemical substance.

Methamphetamine Addiction and Tolerance

How addictive is it? Is addiction a myth? Do I have a problem? Signs and indications of amphetamine abuse and dependency.

From its first use, methamphetamine creates an effect that is conducive to addiction. The euphoric feeling obtained by methamphetamine is long-lasting, and most of the side effects of the drug are desirable. The early feelings of high energy, tirelessness, excitation and lack of appetite, combined with the pleasurable high that created by methamphetamine make easily understandable the desire to repeat the experience. Addiction occurs in very short order.

Methamphetamine Overdose

What are the signs of an overdose? What to do if you spot symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose.

Because the symptoms of prolonged use of methamphetamine and the symptoms of an overdose are so similar, it is difficult to know right away when an overdose has occurred. Common symptoms are rapid pulse, higher heart rate, sweating, and shortness of breath, dilated pupils, and an increase in body temperature. Heart attacks are common with methamphetamine overdose, as are strokes and kidney failure. Because these symptoms take place very quickly after ingesting the drug, they may occur too rapidly to be recognized as an overdose, causing sudden death.

If you or someone you are with show signs of a drug overdose, call emergency services immediately. The drug emergencies resource page has a list of US Poison Control Centers and addiction resources that may be of help in an emergency. We also recommend that you consider seeking treatment once the emergency is over.

If you or someone you are with show signs of a drug overdose, calling your local emergency line is recommended. Our drug emergencies resource page has a list of US poison control centers and addiction resources that could help you in an emergency. We also recommend that you consider seeking treatment once the emergency is over.

Mixing with Other Drugs

What are the effects of mixing methamphetamine with cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, tobacco and other drugs?

Taking methamphetamine with cocaine or other stimulant drugs can incrementally increase their effects and have devastating outcomes. Used with alcohol, marijuana or heroin, the counter-effects of each substance create dangers of knowing how much of each is being used and possible overdose can occur. With tobacco, the dangers are that methamphetamine may increase the amount of use, which can become toxic with long-term use.

Drug Tests and Detox

What are the detection times? How long does methamphetamine stay in my system? Will I pass an amphetamine drug test?

Methamphetamine remains detectable in the system for up to 90 days with certain tests. Depletion of methamphetamine from the system usually causes depression, ranging in severity according to length and amounts of usage.

Legality, The Laws of Possession, Use, and Distribution

Is methamphetamine illegal? If I get caught with meth am I going to jail? How long are sentences? What is the difference between trafficking and possession? Are any methamphetamine charges felonies?

When not prescribed by a doctor for use by the person with the methamphetamine, possession of any quantity is considered illegal in the UK, Canada, and the US. Penalties for possession and for trafficking are subject to the laws of each country.

Spiritual or Medicinal Use

Can methamphetamine be used for purposes other than recreational, such as spiritual or medicinal?

Methamphetamine is rarely used at this time. While it had been popular as a diet aid and for treatment of ADHD in the late 1950s and early 1960s, its addictive properties have made the use of methamphetamine a high risk.

In the Media

Methamphetamine in the news

While it is still sought after for use by students and those who desire quick weight loss assistance, methamphetamine has actually decreased in popularity in the last few years, peaking during the late 1990s to early 2000s, it is now seen to be declining in popularity and use. Below is an example:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you recover from methamphetamine addiction?

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A number of questions are commonly asked about amphetamines and its effects, its origins. From the ordinary and logical line of questions to the often bizarre, we present answers to questions... about this drug.

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