Learn More About Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine Facts

What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine [a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder]. National Institute of Drug Abuse

Other common names for methamphetamine include chalk, crank, crystal, ice, meth, and speed.

How do people use methamphetamine?
People can take methamphetamine by:

  • inhaling/smoking
  • swallowing (pill)
  • snorting
  • injecting the powder that has been dissolved in water/alcohol

Because the “high” from the drug both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

Immediate symptoms of meth use can include:

  • Agitation
  • Chest Pain Diarrhea
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Excited speech
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Long-term side effects from met use can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Insomnia
  • Meth mouth (severe tooth decay)
  • Mood Disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Skin Sores
  • Violent Behavior
  • Weight Loss

How does methamphetamine affect the brain?
Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, pleasure, and reward (pleasure from natural behaviors such as eating). The drug’s ability to release high levels of dopamine rapidly in reward areas of the brain produces the “rush” (euphoria) or “flash” that many people experience.

How Do Manufacturers Make Methamphetamine?
Manufacturers make most of the methamphetamine found in the United States in “superlabs” here or, more often, in Mexico. But some also make the drug in small, secret labs with inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines. To curb production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail stores to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine. A person may only buy a limited amount of those products on a single day.
  National Institute on Drug Abuse