Methamphetamine or meth is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. It produces a temporary state of increased energy, suppressed appetite, and elevated mood. Pure methamphetamine powder is white, odorless and bitter-tasting. Illicit preparations are off-white or yellowish powders, crystals or chunks. They are sometimes packaged as tablets or capsule. Users commonly swallow methamphetamine powder, sniff it, or inject it intravenously. Street methamphetamine is referred to by many names, such as "speed" or "chalk". Methamphetamine hydrochloride, clear chunky crystals resembling ice, which can be inhaled by smoking, is referred to as "ice", "crystal" and "glass".
The central nervous system (CNS) actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia and aggressiveness. Hyperthermia and convulsions can result in death. Some users experience auditory and visual hallucinations as well as a sensation similar to "coke bugs". They believe insects are crawling under their skin and may pick at their bodies until the skin is raw and bleeding.
Chronic use of methamphetamine is usually marked by rapid weight loss as the body burns itself up. Methamphetamine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Other effects include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia. Other physical effects of long-term use may include poor coordination, tremors and blurred vision.
Symptoms of methamphetamine use may include:
Inability to sleep
Increased sensitivity to noise
Nervous physical activity, like scratching
Irritability, dizziness, or confusion
Tremors or even convulsions
Presence of inhaling paraphernalia, such as razor blades, mirrors, and straws
Presence of injecting paraphernalia, such as syringes, heated spoons, or surgical tubing
Meth Resources is a new federal web-site that includes resources, related links and a listserv you can join.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) provides information about the consequences and damaging effects that methamphetamine and other drugs can have on the user and the community.
Life or Meth. What's the Cost? is designed to educate youth about methamphetamine in a fun, interactive learning environment.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has more information on methamphetamine and the "Mind Over Matter" series designed to encourage young people in grades 5 thru 9 to learn about the effects of drug abuse on the body and the brain.
The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information's home page has information on methamphetamine and other substances of abuse.
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Office of Applied Studies (OAS) provides the latest national data on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drug abuse.