Methamphetamine (C10H15N), also known as
“speed,” “meth,” “crystal,”
“crank” or “ice,” is a chemical widely known for its
stimulant properties on the human body. It is a central nervous system
stimulant from the amphetamine family. Like cocaine, it produces
alertness, and elation, along with a variety of adverse reactions. The
effects of methamphetamine, however, are much longer lasting then the
effects of cocaine, yet the cost is roughly the same. For this reason,
methamphetamine is sometimes called the “poor man’s cocaine.”
It is frequently confused with other drugs that share similar symptoms,
including amphetamine, 4-methyl-aminorex(ice), ephedrine, caffeine, and
other chemicals, both legal and illegal. The word speed, in street
terms, often refers to any one of these substances.
First Synthesized in 1887, methamphetamine is made from the
drug ephedrine, an organic substance used as a medicine in China for
hundreds of years. In the 1930s it was sold in the U.S. as a nasal spray
for treatment of inflammation of nasal passages (ephedrine still is sold
for this purpose) and as treatment for narcolepsy (sudden sleep
disorder). During WWII, it was used by both sides to improve soldiers’
performance. This became a major problem in Japan after World War II as
they experienced the first known epidemic of methamphetamine abuse. In
1970, the Controlled Substances Act regulated the production of
Today much of the methamphetamine available on the street is illicit
and produced in clandestine laboratories in the United States and more
recently, Mexico. Because of this, questions always linger about the
quality of the drug.
Methamphetmine can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally, and
its appearance varies depending on how it is used. Typically, it is a
white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that easily dissolves in water.
Because much of the methamphetamine in the U.S. is homemade, its color
and appearance can vary according to the skill of the chemist and the
raw materials used.
Methamphetamine’s effects include euphoria,
hyper-excitability, extreme nervousness, accelerated heartbeat,
sweating, dizziness, restlessness, insomnia, tooth grinding, incessant
talking, and other effects. Other effects include elevated blood
pressure, heart rate, and other general symptoms of increased nervous
activity, hyperthermia (extreme rise in body temperature as high as 108
degrees), and convulsions. Hyperthermia and convulsions sometimes can
result in death.
Users of large amount of methamphetamines over a long period of time
can develop an amphetamine psychosis, which is a mental disorder similar
to paranoid schizophrenia. The symptoms of this psychosis are
hallucinations, delusions, and extreme paranoia.
Physical Dependence: moderate
Psychological Dependence: moderate to severe
Withdrawal symptoms can occur when use of any amphetamines is stopped
abruptly. Users may experience fatigue; long, disturbed periods of
sleep; irritability; intense hunger, and moderate to severe depression.
The length and severity of the depression is related to the quantity
used and the frequency of use.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug and assistance is often
needed to recover from this addiction. Below are some treatment programs
that may be useful for methamphetamine users as well as others:
- DEA Methamphetamine page
- The Hive (provides insight into the meth culture)
- Methamphetamine FAQ
Meth Chemistry Resources:
Due to the increased popularity of “home brewed” meth, it’s important for persons providing treatment for meth addiction, persons using meth, and the public at-large, to be aware of the basic chemistry and related hazards of methamphetamines; meth labs are frequently found in homes and other locations where one wouldn’t such activity to take place and thus it’s important to be aware.
- Speed and Methamphetamine Drug Dangers
- Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture
- The Organic Chem Lab Survival Manual
- Total Synthesis II
- Methamphetamines (young adult edition)
- Amphetamine Synthesis Overview & Reference Guide for Professionals
- Advanced Techniques of Clandestine Psychedelic & Amphetamine Manufacture
- Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story
- Tihkal: The Continuation
- Psychedelics Encyclopedia