Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant, used medically to treat
sleep problems (narcolepsy),
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and
severe overweight problems. The illegal form of methamphetamine is a white,
odorless, bitter-tasting, crystalline powder that can be dissolved easily in
water or alcohol. It is called speed, meth, ice, crystal, glass, or chalk. The smoked form of
methamphetamine is often called ice, crystal, crank, or glass. Illegal
methamphetamine is often made in makeshift laboratories from inexpensive
Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. When
it is smoked or injected, the person feels an intense pleasurable rush that
lasts only a few minutes. The smokable form produces an odorless smoke that
leaves a residue that can be smoked again, allowing the person to experience
effects of the drug for up to 12 hours or more. When it is snorted or taken by
mouth, the person feels happy (euphoric) but does not have the intense rush
obtained from smoking or injecting the drug. People who abuse this drug have a
tendency to use it repeatedly (binge) and then crash afterward.
In small doses, methamphetamine can increase wakefulness and physical
activity and decrease appetite. In high doses, it can increase body temperature
to dangerous—and possibly deadly—levels, as well as cause seizures. Because
methamphetamine increases heart rate and blood pressure, it can permanently
damage blood vessels in the brain, causing a stroke. People who abuse
methamphetamine may become anxious, confused, and violent. They may develop
serious psychological effects, such as paranoia, seeing or hearing things that
are not present (hallucinations), and believing things that are not true
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. If use is stopped, it can lead
to depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Also, the person usually has
strong cravings for the drug.
Methamphetamine's high lasts from 8 to 24 hours. The drug can be
detected in a urine drug screen up to 48 hours after use.
July 20, 2012
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
& Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
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