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Updated on March 20, 2011

Methamphetamine is probably the most famous abused drug nowadays. Abuse of this drug is rampant and abusers are looking for more excuses to make this drug seem like its helping users rather than destroying them. And it is famous worldwide. But different street names are used for this drug in different countries.

It's impossible to talk about methamphetamine without touching the facts about amphetamines. Methamphetamine is a drug that is very similar to amphetamine. Actually when the body is exposed to methamphetamine, methamphetamine quickly metabolizes to amphetamine. The effects of the two drugs are exactly the same that even the most experienced users couldn't tell them apart. Chemists who know the chemical properties of amphetamine and methamphetamine would say that the two drugs have almost identical chemical compounds.

Amphetamine's and Methamphetamine's Roles in Medicine

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are brain stimulant drugs. They activate the brain cells and increase the release of stimulants in our brain. In medicine, amphetamine and methamphetamine are used as a treatment for extreme obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy. It is used in treating obesity due to its effect of increasing the body's metabolism. ADHD is a brain disorder where the person displays a persistence of inattention and hyperactivity that is more obvious than other people their age. It helps ADHD patients by giving them improved impulse control, improved concentration, decreased irritability, and decreased anxiety. Narcolepsy is a condition in which the person falls into deep sleep during its attacks. It is used in treating this condition due to one of its effects of keeping the senses awake; therefore the episodes of deep sleep are diminished during treatment. Amphetamine and methamphetamine are used as short-term treatment, though. They are used only for short-term to prevent drug dependence from the patients. If used over longer periods of time, the physician should give the dosage within therapeutic limits to prevent drug dependence or abuse. Treatment from these medicines should be regulated and supervised by a qualified physician.

crystal meth

powder meth

Effects of the Drugs

There are different ways to take the drugs. It could be orally ingested (tablet form), snorted through the nose (powdered form), smoked (powdered form and crystal form), or injected (powdered form). The effects of the drugs vary on how the users, abusers, or the patients take it. The degree of the damage the drugs can cause to a person also differs. It may all depend on the behavior of the person taking the drug, how long he has been taking it, and how dependent he is on the drug. Of course, the person who is taking it orally may be in therapy for a disease which had been mentioned earlier. And oral ingestion of the drug has a milder effect on the brain. Snorting and smoking the drug would directly go through the brain. Snorting, smoking and injection are used and practiced by addicts and the effects are more extreme.

These are some of the immediate effects of the drugs: increased wakefulness, increased focus, increased physical activity, enhanced mood, enhanced energy, increased mental alertness, excitement which they call rush or euphoria, feeling of power or the feeling of having superhuman strength, increased endurance, inhibits pain, and increases metabolism.

Other effects of the drugs may also include reduced appetite, dilated pupils, headache, restlessness, increased blood pressure, heart palpitations or uneven heartbeats, sweating, shaking, hyperthermia or very warm body temperature, talkativeness, violence, and paranoia.

When the effects of the drugs start to wear out, the user may feel depression, anxiety, fatigue, excessive sleeping, increased appetite, and they also have delusions or hallucinations.

Dangers of the Drug

Methamphetamine and amphetamine had always been warned as very highly addictive drugs. As a result, authorities from different countries have taken measures to limit the distribution of the drugs and the different ingredients used in making methamphetamine, especially ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

Dangerous side-effects of the drugs include:

  • Drug craving; the initial feeling of euphoria or rush wears out after the body metabolizes the chemical and the brain starts to adapt to the drug. Drug abusers are basically looking for the feeling of euphoria and so, during this phase, the user wants to use more to feel again the initial high he wants to feel.
  • Committing violent and petty crimes to finance the expensive habit
  • Violence resulting from paranoia or violence due to pleasure
  • Panic attacks and confusion resulting from hallucination and delusion
  • Uncontrollable movement may be caused by heart failure or stroke
  • Twitching, similar to the twitching in Parkinson's Disease
  • Depression, in which the person may become extremely violent or suicidal
  • Permanent brain damage and psychosis
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Even after months of abstinence, the brain still continues to deteriorate
  • Social and occupational deterioration
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Mood disturbances

Only a few methamphetamine abusers are successfully rehabilitated. There could be numerous causes. It could be that the abuser has a bad attitude, a bad personality, the extent of the brain damage caused by the drug, the essence of the drug that is left in the body, or there could be other causes not related to the drug, like personal problems or pressures in life.

Other Illegal Uses of the Drug

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are used by professional and amateur athletes because of its strong stimulant effect. Athletes and probably their coaches believe that taking these drugs could enhance the athlete's performance levels. Some athletes have died using this practice. Drivers who drive for long hours also use this to increase their concentration level while driving. This could lead to car accidents. People who are very busy who feel that they need to stay awake and stay attentive to their jobs also use them. Students who want to enhance their school performance use them to improve their studies. These practices are illegal, unregulated, and pose danger to the health and well-being of the user. All these practices can lead to addictions to methamphetamines.

Ephedra Plant


Amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in 1887 from its plant derivative, ephedrine. Methamphetamine was first synthesized in Japan in 1893. In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized by reducing the ephedrine compound in ephedrine. Confusing? They used a chemical procedure to take that into effect. They call it the ephedrine reduction method.

At the first discovery of amphetamine, they couldn't decide what the drug could be used for. The drug was existent, but the disease where this drug could fit into, remained unknown. But in 1929, Gordon Alles synthesized methamphetamine and tested the drug on himself. He found that the drug stimulates the brain and could help improve breathing. And so, the first uses of the drug are for nasal congestion, marketed as an inhaler and as brain stimulant, produced in tablet form.

The first report about amphetamine addiction was reported in 1938, the year before World War II began. And on that same year, the first report of amphetamine-related psychosis was reported.

During World War II, soldiers of all forces, the Allied, Axis, and the Japanese military forces were using methamphetamine to boost their level of courage, increase alertness, and to stay awake for long periods of time. Adolf Hitler was taking amphetamine injections given to him by his personal physician.

After World War II, there was an oversupply of methamphetamine in Japan. The drug was widely distributed in Japan under the street name shabu. In 1951, the Japanese Ministry Of Health banned the drug.

During the 1980s, Steve Preisler who used the pen name "Uncle Fester" wrote a book entitled "Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture". It's still on sale with its seventh edition. This book had led to the increasing number of illegal methamphetamine laboratories. Be warned that methamphetamine laboratories are prone to burns, fires, and explosions. Not to mention the health hazards they pose to the people and animals in the immediate environment.

Active Ingredients of Methamphetamine

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the precursor chemicals of methamphetamine. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the naturally occurring ingredients of Ephedra plant or Ma Huang. Although pseudoephedrine is a naturally occurring ingredient of Ephedra, these can be made by yeast fermentation of dextrose. Because of this processing, pseudoephedrine can be produced in commercial quantity. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine act like the adrenalin of our body. That's why methamphetamine users feel a sudden adrenaline rush.

Crystallized methamphetamines are made from powdered methamphetamine. Crystal meth is created by dissolving the powdered meth in water and alcohol together with its other ingredients. Heat and distillation is used for cooking meth. Once the finished product is removed from heat and allowed to cool, the once powdered drug begins to form into crystals. The drug doesn't end in the difference of the appearance only; crystal methamphetamines are much more potent than powdered methamphetamines.

Meth cooks usually isolate the active ingredients of methamphetamines to create high quality meth. The end-product of methamphetamine will show signs if they are not done well. And experts know the difference of high quality meth and low quality meth. Low quality in this case would indicate the mistake in manufacturing process.

But recently, meth cooks have discovered a way to dilute methamphetamine by adding cheaper ingredients into the drug. And most users couldn't be sure how pure their methamphetamines are, whether it's 10% pure or 100% pure.


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    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks. I hope this hub had shed some light as to why meth addicts behave like they do. Thanks for coming by.

    • areyoukiddingme profile image


      8 years ago

      This hub had some great information. I have never known

      much about this drug but am glad that I came across this because I have been working with someone who uses this and I was at my wits end trying to deal with it.

      Looking forward to more great info from you! THanks

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Eizzy, thanks for dropping by. Yes, I agree with you, it is important to share both pros and cons of a drug. Drugs itself are really not bad, they only have negative effects because people abuse 'em.

    • Eizzy profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      It's very important that we are aware of the most common drugs around us, whether they are legally therapeutic or not.

      I love how you thoroughly introduced methamphetamines and weighed both its medical and destructive effects. Just so we won't be trapped in the basic assumption that we are taking the therapeutic and enough amount of mAMP (methamphetamine), it is best to use drug testing kits which can be used in our own homes. Take a look at my blog at for more info.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Dink96, I think the real problem here is users addiction to the substance. Sorry you have to see such awful scenes but they come along with the drug. Kids need to be more aware of the dangers they are getting themselves into so they'll make better decisions and not fall trap into this.

    • Dink96 profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Well, I came from the era of hippies and "Amphetamine Annie", but this crystal meth other nonsense that's out there now just scares the bejabbers out of me. Many of my friend's kids have fallen into it. Some have made it out; some not. Jails, insanity or death, and we have seen all three. Very good hub.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Chatuana, thanks for dropping by and sharing your knowledge. I do hope though that this knowledge didn't come from experience of using it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Eph. hcl purity is easy! when heated intensely on an aluminium gives pale gold coloration and after cooling gives non-sticky brittle residue... otherwise it's impure say less than 90% lab tested purity.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks, Katyzzz.

    • katyzzz profile image


      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Very thorough treatment of this important issue, BeatMe

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi, Kim. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Your comment sure have added new information to this hub.

      It sure is bad news to be tested positive for meth when in fact, you're just under medication. Thanks for the warning.

    • kim mercado profile image

      kim mercado 

      9 years ago from Exeter, California U.S.A.

      I have been doing a lot of research on the ingredients to methamphetimine and the chemistry of meth. I too have found out that the two have the same chemical compounds. I also have found that the urine test that are done by the Tulare County Sheriffs are not right. In order to detect meth there first has to be a positive test result You can not be negative for ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpanolamine in a urine test for meth. because those are the three most popular ingredients used in the recipe to make meth. This is called the OTC ingredients.

      There are two kinds of methamphetmine, one is D which is the precription stimulant and appetite suppresant and one is I FORM WHICH IS FOUND OVER THE COUNTER AS THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS OF VICKS INHALERS and is a metabolite of certain precriptions meds. Both test postive by both immunoassay and most GC/MS assays.

      Look out for the sheriffs, police and the courts they are conficting a lot of innocent people people for positive drug screens when could very well be over the counter meds or precription meds and unless you do research yourself you will never have a chance. The community needs to know about this.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi AEvans. Thanks. :)

      But if it's distributed, no one would read this hub anymore. :(

    • AEvans profile image


      9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I believe this information should be placed in a pamphlet and distributed across the Country, it is valid and valubale information and quite informative.:)

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi DougsHub, thanks for sharing. I agree with you about the price we have to pay.

      Actually, when I use the methamphetamine keyword in Amazon, the first ad that came out was 'The Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture'. I have to use another keyword to lose that ad. But before I did that, I read the page first. I've read some negative comments, that's expected. But I've also read positive comments, now that's surprising.

      People that buy that book really wanted to manufacture meth. But, in one of the comments there, it was mentioned that it's not easy to follow that book if you are not a chemist.

      Just sharing what I've read. :)

    • DougsHub profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      All parents should have read of your hub. Well researched and informative. Thank you.

      The paragraph on Uncle Fester's book provoked some discussion in our household. We sometime pay a high price for freedom of expression.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi WC, thanks for reading and for sharing. :)

    • WeddingConsultant profile image


      10 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Lots of shoplifters I caught were either meth addicts or were stealing the ingredients to make meth.

      Good hub.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi cgull8m, some people are prone to become addicted to drugs. Some articles may be exaggerating a little bit about the facts. But we don't know for sure who are more prone to drug addiction. It's always better to avoid before it becomes too late.

    • cgull8m profile image


      10 years ago from North Carolina

      I read a topic recently that even smoking one or two cigarettes will make the person addictive. People try it for fun and then it becomes addictive.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi cgull8m, I also don't know the high they feel when they try. But some people are more prone to drug addiction. I don't know why.

      Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • cgull8m profile image


      10 years ago from North Carolina

      I hope others read this before they try out methamphetamine. I never tried drugs, thank god I didn't try it. I don't know what kind of high is when you destroy oneself and friends and family, career and everything.

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi Neil, I don't know if pot leads to other drug addiction. What I do know is that drug addicts don't try out only one kind of drug. They try many. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      10 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Very informative - detailed research! Bravo...... the scary thing about drugs can be seen in any rehab center. 95% of those there are there because of pharmaceuticals ... 5% are there for Booze. Makes one see the validity in conspiracy theories! That leads to yet another question - where does Pot really fit in.....???/ No-one is in rehab for "only" pot smoking! Does pot really lead to other drugs? Thanks

    • BeatsMe profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi Eileen, thanks for the comment and for dropping by. :)

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Great informative hub, young people should all read this. It is so scary, what our young and some older ones are subjecting there body and their nothing to look forward to by taking it. It is such a shame.

      I am glad these drugs were not around when I was young. Thanks for sharing this .


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