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What Is Methamphetamine? – How Does It Effect The Body and Brain?


Methamphetamine Street Names

Crank, speed, tweak, amp, blue belly, crystal, white cross, trash, working man’s cocaine


Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system of those who use the drug. Meth comes in a white crystalline powder that is odorless, tasteless, and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. The drug is a synthetic drug that is commonly manufactured in large, illegal laboratories but can also be made in smaller laboratories based in abandoned buildings and other dwellings. Within the last few years, a shake and bake method was developed by manufacturers in which the key ingredients used to make the drug can be created in an empty two-liter soda bottle.

Methamphetamine is comprised of a variety of chemicals that are extremely toxic and highly flammable. The main ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine which is commonly used in cold medications. While the “recipes” can vary, other chemicals used in the production of the drug include red phosphorus, acetone, sulfuric acid, anhydrous ammonia, and toluene among others. Many of these ingredients can be purchased at convenience and drug stores.

History of Methamphetamine

A more potent form of amphetamine, methamphetamine was first synthesized in 1919 and was initially used in the United States to treat narcolepsy and asthma in the early 1930’s. Meth use become more widespread during World War II when Allied bomber pilots (as well as Japanese and German soldiers) were given the drug in order to keep them fight off fatigue and enhance performance. After the war, methamphetamine was made available to the Japanese public and as a result the country experienced a meth epidemic which spread to the western United States in the 1950’s.

Despite knowledge of its’ addictive properties, methamphetamine was marketed as a weight loss aid and as “pep pills”. During the 1960’s, doctors in San Francisco drug clinics were utilizing meth injections as a treatment for heroin addiction. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, meth use became more widespread as different methods of manufacturing the drug were created. Meth use reached epidemic proportions during this time in the Midwest as well as the southwestern and western United States. In 1996, Congress passed the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Act which aimed to prevent the illegal manufacture and use of the drug.

The Scope of Meth Use In The United States

According to data complied in the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.2 million people had reported using methamphetamine in that year, and 440,000 had reported using it in the month the survey was taken. Additionally, methamphetamine accounted for about 103,000 ED visits in 2011 and was the fourth most mentioned illicit drug in emergency room visits following cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. While these numbers had shown a decline from previous years, meth use and production still is causing significant health and law enforcement problems in states such as Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Oklahoma.

Methods of Administration

Meth can be administered in a number of ways. For example, meth users can take the drug orally as a gel tab, tablet or can mix with water, soda or juice. Meth can also be smoked, injected intravenously, or snorted. The time it takes for users to feel effects of the drug varies by the way it is used. Those users who inject the drug will feel the effects within 15-30 seconds while those who take the drug orally will feel the effects in 20-30 minutes.

Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

In small doses, meth users experience increased alertness and physical activity and decreased appetite. Depending on the amount taken and an individual’s medical history, the drug can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Additionally, short-term use can also lead to hyperthermia, or an increase in body temperature. Additionally, high doses of the drug can lead to convulsions may occur and can result in death if treatment is not sought.

Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

The long-term effects of methamphetamine can be severe for both the body and the mind. Meth use constricts blood vessels and lead to a user’s skin appearing aged. The damage to blood vessels and tissue also makes it more difficult for the body to repair damage and meth users develop open sores and abscesses which are a common hallmark of meth abuse. Meth use also causes extensive damage to teeth and gums and users develop meth mouth in which their teeth rot and fall out due to excessive drying of tooth sockets and increased acid buildup.

In the brain, meth significantly damages brain receptors that produce dopamine and serotonin which are neurotransmitters which regulate pleasure sensations. Meth addicts experience wide mood swings as well as significant bouts of depression and anxiety. Long-term use can also produce hallucinations, psychosis, long periods of insomnia and users are prone to self-harming behaviors which can be extremely difficult to treat. Additionally, methamphetamine decreases a person’ libido and rational thought processes so meth users could contract STDs or get other serious injuries. Meth also suppresses the appetite, so many users experience malnutrition and severe weight loss.

Are You or A Loved One Addicted to Meth? Sober Nation Will Help You Find Recovery

Methamphetamine addiction has devastating impacts on the user as well as their family, friends and community. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth abuse, it is critical to find the resources, treatment, and support you need to overcome your addiction and reclaim your life.

Sober Nation will provide you the help that you need while treating you or your loved one with the compassion and respect they deserve. The expert staff of Sober Nation are recovering addicts themselves and are an active part of the recovery community, so they understand the pain and frustration that you experience. Turn your goal of recovery into reality and call Sober Nation today.



  1. mary Jayne ward says

    I’ve only shot meth once and its an awesome feeling so I can see how it can become addictive so easily …. I’m just afraid of all those chemicals …. If it its through toilet tile stains them what’s it doing to your veins? No way ! I may be a junkie but ill stick to my 30’s until I can find a way to get help and stay clean and sober ….

  2. mary Jayne ward says

    I’ve only shot meth once and its an awesome feeling so I can see how it can become addictive so easily …. I’m just afraid of all those chemicals …. If it eats through toilet tile stains then what’s it doing to your veins? No way ! I may be a junkie but I’ll stick to my 30’s until I can find a way to get help and stay clean and sober ….

  3. says

    I am a recovering meth addict. , my two years clean will be on April the 10, 2015 .
    I am still suffering from the abuse it done to my life my body my teeth my mind and just my everything !
    I pray everyday that I never do it again, Because it would definitely be my last and I know it would kill me !

  4. Melissa says

    I have been addicted to meth for 18 years and the effects it’s had on myself and family have been devastating and down right sad. I have been sober now for 54 days now and I have a hard time dealing with day to day situations. Yet hopeful for my recovery and the new relationships with my kids, sober…it’s going to take my higher power, God, and a lot of hard work…with that said I have to say that meth is much worse than what this article explains!!

  5. corey says

    Been a methamagician for 12years n been slamming gram blams for half DAT and so sick of losing people jobs vehicles cribs over because of a false since of being and the paranoia has become so powerful that fear has turned into psychotic episodes and definitely opens up shit for beezelbub….if I had a time machine and had one thing I could change it would be using this drug but then again this is how I met some of the most important people in my life…really never want to see it again …..

  6. Gary Mc. says

    My meth addiction goes back to the age of 19 and I quit at the age of 48 – that’s 29 years. I know what it’s like to be so caught up in an addiction that you will sacrifice your very soul to keep from coming down. I know what it’s like to lose everything, and I mean everything, including the love and trust of family because you are so consumed by an addiction you never wanted to have. But I also know the rewards, joys, and peace of mind that comes through a commitment to recovery – whatever the cost. I have three years clean as of October 3rd, 2015 and my life today is beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined – but I won’t lie to you and say that I don’t have the occasional craving. What’s different today is that when those cravings invade my life, I reflect back upon where my active-addiction took me each and every time I relapsed. If you are determined to get clean as your were to get high, you have a fighting chance. I’ve paid my dues and now my purpose to help others reclaim their lives through recovery gives me far greater joy than meth ever did. Recovery isn’t easy – but it’s possible.

    Gary McDowell

  7. Gary McDowell says

    Gary Mc. says;

    No one wakes up one morning and decides to become an addict or an alcoholic. Addiction is without a doubt the sharpest arrow in the enemy’s arsenal. When one of those arrows pierces the heart, it poisons the body, corrupts the mind, and destroys the spirit.

    John Eldridge once said that; “You can’t fight a battle you don’t think exists.” I never considered myself to be an addict who had a problem. To admit and accept that I was in fact an addict was the hardest step for me. It was the opposite of everything I was raised to be. In order to save my life it was something I had to admit publically and accept in my innermost being.

    If you are in recovery and you have decided that you are going to do whatever it takes to rise above the past – you are well on your way. Recovery is a gift – but it is also a decision. It takes determination and perseverance, not only in the present but in the future as well. If you’re an addict like me; your recovery must be your highest priority, because without it nothing else makes sense.

    I’ve said before that recovery is not easy – but it’s possible. I now have almost three years clean and my life has taken on an entirely new meaning. My purpose is to help others who are walking the paths that I have walked. By doing so the past makes a little more sense and it allows me to give back to others instead of always taking. Each day I wake up brings a renewed sense of wonder instead of desperation.

    Be kind, be true to yourself, to others, and never take your eye off of your recovery.

    Gary McDowell

  8. Gary McDowell says

    Gary Mc. says;

    Addiction is real. Over and over again we hear of tragedy associated with drug use. But what we hear is usually tied to the rich and famous. But I ask you; what about those behind the scenes? What about the families and children of the addict who are racked with worry, anger, and shame? Their voices need to be heard and they deserve no less. Addiction is a society problem and it has no respect for who you are, how much money you have, or how many times you’ve been in the public eye. Crimes of violence, property, and economic loss are many times associated with addiction. When I was using I had no respect for myself and I committed crimes to support my addiction. Our jails and prisons are full of men and women who did the very things I used to do. I know because I’ve been there. As obvious as this sounds and the fact that we’ve heard it all before leads me to ask one simple question; what are we doing to break the cycle?

    Gary McDowell

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