5 Facts about Methamphetamine Use and Addiction

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.2 million people reported using methamphetamine in the year leading up to the survey, and 440,000 people reported using it within the past month. As methamphetamine use in the United States remains prevalent on a national scale, the need for a thorough understanding of its components, use methods and physiological effects becomes increasingly important.


  1. What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant known by various street names (Speed, Meth, Crystal, Crank, Ice and Uppers).  Methamphetamine is a man-made drug (synthetic) that can be made illegally from a mixture of dangerous chemicals, often in makeshift laboratories in homes, motels, barns and trailers. It is sold in the form of pills, powders and chunks.


  1. How is methamphetamine abused?

Methamphetamine is taken orally, smoked, snorted and can also be dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. Smoking or injecting the drug delivers it very quickly to the brain, producing an immediate, intense euphoria. Because the pleasure fades quickly, users often take repeated doses in a binge-and-crash pattern.


  1. Can methamphetamine be obtained by a prescription?

Although rarely used medically, methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other conditions. The doses used in these cases are much lower than typical instances of abuse. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.


  1. How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that acts by increasing dopamine levels in the area of the brain (limbic system) responsible for producing positive feelings in the body, including those of euphoria. Chronic use of the drug can damage this portion of the brain, resulting in an inability to feel happiness, joy or pleasure from activities the user normally enjoys. This symptom can exist for a significant length of time after recovery from addiction.


  1. What are some other effects of methamphetamine abuse?

Even small amounts of methamphetamine can produce effects similar to those of other stimulants, including cocaine. These effects include increased blood pressure and body temperature, extended periods of wakefulness, rapid and irregular heart rate, decreased appetite and agitation.