Drugs of Abuse: Methamphetamine

Get the facts

Slang. Speed, Meth, Crystal, Crank, Tweak, Go-fast, Ice, Glass, Uppers, Black Beauties

Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant drug. It is similar to a family of drugs called amphetamines. Meth has more prolonged effects on the central nervous system and brain than stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines.

Meth is a synthetic (or man-made) drug. The meth that is used illegally is made from dangerous chemicals and sold in the form of pills, powder, or chunks. It is manufactured in makeshift laboratories within homes, vehicles, motels, and many other locations.

Methamphetamine can be swallowed, inhaled (snorted), smoked or injected in its various forms. Meth may appear as an odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. In may range in color from white to brown, pink to red, or appear in various yellow shades, depending on the ingredients used to make it.

Meth affects your brain. In the short term, meth causes mind and mood changes such as anxiety, euphoria, and depression. Long-term effects can include chronic fatigue, paranoid or delusional thinking, and permanent psychological damage.

Meth affects your body. Over "amping" on any type of speed is pretty risky. Creating a false sense of energy, these drugs push the body faster and further than it's meant to go. It increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke.

Meth affects your self-control. Meth is a powerfully addictive drug that can cause aggression and violent or psychotic behavior.

Meth is not what it seems. Even speed drugs are not always safe. Giga jolts of the well-known stimulants caffeine or ephedrine can cause stroke or cardiac arrest when overused or used by people with a sensitivity to them.

Meth can kill you. An overdose of meth can result in heart failure. Long-term physical effects such as liver, kidney, and lung damage may also kill you.

Know the law. Methamphetamine is illegal in all states and highly dangerous.

Get the facts. The ignitable, corrosive, and toxic nature of the chemicals used to produce meth can cause fires, produce toxic vapors, and damage the environment.

Know the risks
  • Meth can cause a severe "crash" after the effects wear off.
  • Meth use can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain.
  • Meth users who inject the drug and share needles are at risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS.

Know the signs
  • Inability to sleep
  • Increased sensitivity to noise
  • Nervous physical activity, like scratching
  • Irritability, dizziness, or confusion
  • Extreme anorexia
  • Tremors or even convulsions
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke
  • Presence of inhaling paraphernalia, such as razor blades, mirrors, and straws
  • Presence of injecting paraphernalia, such as syringes, heated spoons, or surgical tubing

Information provided by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Read More
Family gathered at table

7 Ways to Tell If Your Loved One Has an Addiction

Identifying an addiction in a loved one & talking about it with them. Read More >

Read More
Mom with baby

10 Ways to Make Self-Care in Recovery a Priority

Even when you have a million things to do Read More >

Read More
Hands writing

12 Questions to Ask Every Treatment Provider

A checklist for each alcohol and drug treatment program. Read More >