METHAMPHETAMINE

Common Drug Names:

Meth, blue, ice, glass, quartz, and crystal

Methamphetamine is powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. It is classified as a Schedule II stimulant.

Methamphetamine was developed early in the 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like amphetamine, methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and euphoria. However, methamphetamine differs from amphetamine in that, at similar doses, greater amounts of the drug get into the brain, making it more potent. It also has longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system. These characteristics make it a drug with high potential for widespread misuse.

Methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a pleasurable sense of well-being or euphoria. It has longer lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system than amphetamines.

There’s no doubt that there are negative health impacts for those who use meth. This is well supported based on the chemicals used to manufacture it. They are often explosive, highly toxic, and may lead to a variety of complications and risks. Some of the common ingredients include*:

  • Battery acid
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine cleaner
  • Iodine
  • Anhydrous Ammonia (fertilizer, common cleaners)
  • Lighter fluid
  • Sulfuric Acid (toilet bowl cleaner)
  • Pseudoephedrine (cold medicine)
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Paint thinner
  • Red phosphorous (match boxes, road flares)
  • Rubbing alcohol

*this list is not inclusive of all ingredients

Methamphetamine is a fast-acting drug with a relatively short half-life (10 hours on average). In general, it appears that the timeline for withdrawal from crystal meth is fairly consistent among users:

  • It begins within the first 24 hours of abstinence
  • It reaches its peak within the first 7-10 days following discontinuation of the drug, and there is a steady decline in the intensity of symptoms following this peak
  • It has an average duration of about 14-20 days, with 14 days being the most commonly reported duration of the withdrawal syndrome

General withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Episodes of jitteriness may occur

Extreme cravings for methamphetamine also occur during the withdrawal process but have been noted to decline rapidly.

Extreme, psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions, may also occur and should be addressed in a professional treatment environment.

Behavioral therapies, at this point, are the most effective treatments for methamphetamine. These include cognitive-behavioral and contingency management interventions. Some models take a comprehensive approach by blending behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug-related activities.

Although medications have proven effective in treating some substance use disorders, there are currently no medications that counteract the effects of methamphetamine or that prolong abstinence from and reduce the misuse of methamphetamine by an individual addicted to the drug.

DRUG TRENDS

While methamphetamine is available across the United States, highest availability is in the western and midwestern regions of the United States. Meth use and production rose in the 2000s, peaking in 2005 with 85 metric tons consumed in the United States that year.

While the opioid epidemic is at the forefront, nationally, many states are seeing a rise in production, drug use, law enforcement drug seizures, overdose, and treatment admissions related to methamphetamine use.