Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that impacts the central nervous system. Known by its street name such as crystal and ice, this drug is a bitter-tasting, odorless, white crystalline powder that is water and alcohol soluble.
Developed from amphetamine in the early 20th century, this drug was used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. Though both drugs act as stimulants, Methamphetamine is more potent as its adverse effects are longer-lasting and greatly affects the user’s brain.
Methamphetamine is a controlled substance in the United States. However, it can be legally obtained through a non-refillable prescription. The drug, in far lower doses taken by abusers, has been specified for the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and in weight-loss treatments.
Screening Cut-off and Detection Time
The cut-off level in drug screening is the point where a negative and positive test results are separated. This screening cut-off level is determined to establish that point where the detection of drug is far from false positives readings. An initial negative reading does not essentially mean that the sample is drug free, but that the concentration level of drug in the sample is below the cut-off level.
The initial screening cut-off level for Methamphetamine is 100ng/ml. Detection time for single use is up to 48 hours, and for long-term use is from 7 to 10 days.
If the initial test is positive, a confirmation test is required. The cut-off level for Meth is at this point 500ng/ml.2
DEA Drug Class
The Drug Enforcement Administration adheres to the United States Code (USC) Controlled Substance Act. Under this code are five schedules of controlled substances labeled as schedules I, II, III, IV and V. The schedule of drug classification is based on the medical applications, safety and abuse potential of the drug.
Methamphetamine falls under Schedule II, which are drugs and substances that have a high potential for abuse; are currently acceptable in the United States for medical use with severe restrictions; and abuse of which may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.3
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that targets the central nervous system. Its chemical breakdown is: C 10 H 15 N and affects chemical in the nerves and brain that influence impulse and hyperactivity control. This drug type increases energy, alertness, and attention, as well as elevate heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
Forms and Routes of Administration
Methamphetamine comes in various forms and can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked. The “high” experienced by the user depends on the how the drug was taken.4
- Tablet Form – Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or the brand Desoxyn is taken orally. This is a medically prescribed drug for the treatment of ADHD and obesity. When orally ingested, the effect is felt after 10-12 minutes.
- Powder Form – “Crank” refers to fine, coarse or chunks of meth powder. This yellow or off-white powder is supplied loose and wrapped in foil or plastic bag, or in capsuled. When snorted, the effect is felt in less than 5 minutes.
- Crystal Form – This type of meth resembles frozen water, thus the term “ice”. This crystallized meth can be smoked in a glass pipe. The odorless smoke leaves a residue that can be re-smoked. The effect may last up to 12 hours.
- Yaba – This is a combination of meth and caffeine made available in multi-colored and multi-shaped tablets that taste like grape, vanilla or orange, much like candies. Yaba tablets are highly popular in rave and techno parties. Some choose to snort Yaba by placing it on aluminum foil and heating it.5
- Desoxyn Gradumet
Uses of Amphetamines
This drug type has been used to treat respiratory problems, asthma, neurological disorders, obesity and other diseases. As its potential for abuse and dependence became evident, the medical use of methamphetamine has been strictly limited to the treatment of ADHD, depression and narcolepsy.6
Methamphetamine changes the amount of particular substances in the brain in treating ADHD. It helps increase one’s ability to stay focused and pay attention on an activity, improve the capacity to listen and organize tasks.
Doctors have prescribed this medication to help obese people lose weight as it decreases a person’s appetite. However, drug use must be for a short time in patients who are on a reduced-calorie diet, and who have not significantly lost weight with other treatments.7
Methamphetamine is not to be used to treat fatigue or to keep people without sleep disorder from falling asleep.
Methamphetamine must only be taken under the direction of a qualified medical doctor. People who used MAO inhibitors such as tranylcypromine, selegiline, phenelzine, rasagiline, linezolid, and isocarboxazid, in the last 14 days must not use methamphetamine.
Those who have allergic reactions to stimulant medicine must not take this drug. Those who have the following medical conditions are not supposed to take this drug.
- coronary artery disease or heart disease
- high blood pressure
- overactive thyroid
- severe agitation, tension or anxiety
- history of drug addiction
People must inform their doctor if they have the above-mentioned conditions. If the patient’s family has a history of the following conditions, informing their doctors is a must.
- Mental illness, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, suicidal actions/thoughts
- Tourette’s syndrome or muscle twitches
- History of epilepsy or seizures
- Brain wave abnormalities (EEG)
- Blood circulation problems in extremities
Children, pregnant and lactating women must not take methamphetamine.
Children below 6 years old are not approved to take methamphetamine. Children under 12 years old are not approved to take this drug to treat obesity. There is no research or study that supports the theory that taking meth during pregnancy will harm the unborn baby. However, doing so can cause not only premature birth and low birth weight, but withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby. Methamphetamine or any other drug can pass into breast milk, thus harming the nursing baby.8
- Black Beauties
- Bikers Coffee
- Chicken Feed
- Crystal Meth
- Methlies Quick
- Poor Man’s Cocaine
- Stove Top
- Yellow Bam
Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant that even if taken in small doses can increase one’s physical activity, wakefulness and decrease appetite. Meth can also cause a range of cardiovascular ailments such as increase blood pressure, rapid heart rate and irregular heartbeat.
Symptoms of Use and Abuse
Traces of methamphetamine may be indicative if one finds a small pouch of white crystals or powder with syringes. Some meth abusers may leave behind small, crumpled pieces of aluminum foil, small shafts or empty ballpoint pens that could be used for snorting, or soda can punched with a hole at the side. Meth user or abuser:
- Do not or cannot sleep for long periods
- Lose appetite so they do not eat
- Lose a lot of weight
- May show signs of being unusually active; fidgets
- Seems to be anxious and nervous 8
Coming down or “crash” after use can be unpleasant for the user. To avoid this crash, most go for a meth “run” wherein they take another dose of meth for continuous high. This could lead to serious or even fatal results.
- Dry Mouth
- Dilation of the Pupils
- Feelings of Power
- May Be Life-Threatening
- Feelings of Happiness
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Auditory & Visual Hallucinations
- Drug Dependency
- Erratic Behavior
- Emotional Instability
- HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis (Injecting the Drug)
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased Body Temperature
- Increased Heat Rate
- Heart Attack
- May Cause Lasting Brain Damage
- Mood Disturbances
- Picking at the Skin
- Preoccupation with One’s Own Thoughts
- Psychosis Akin to Schizophrenia
- Sadness & Unhappiness
- Sever Dental Problems
- Social Disability
- Sweaty Skin
- Violent Behavior
- Weight Loss
Regular use of methamphetamine will ultimately affect the Central Nervous System and brain of the user. This will lead to:
- Dopamine Transporter Abnormalities
- Spectroscopic Abnormalities
- Motor Deficits
- Memory Deficits
- Increased Parietal Glucose Metabolism
- Cognitive Deficits
- Relative Glucose Metabolism = Impaired Mood
- Enlargement in Parietal Volume
- Deficit in Hippocampal Volume
- Basal Ganglia Volume Increased
- Motor Memory Deficits
- Interference with Verbal Fluency
- Interference with Fine Motor Performance
Methamphetamine may not be the most abused drug in most countries but it is certainly the most destructive and addictive one.
Methamphetamine dependence can be both psychological and physical. It is psychological addiction or dependence when a user feels compelled to take the drug in order to function. He may be alleviating feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety or inadequacy by taking the drug. This is psychological dependence.
Physical dependence is manifested as a compelling craving for the drug and by the demonstration of withdrawal symptoms when use of the particular drug is stopped.
Methamphetamine is chemically similar to amphetamine, but more potent and easier to manufacture. Amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in 1887 while Meth was developed in Japan in 1919. As it is water soluble, this drug is highly injectable.
Meth was highly used by military combatants of the Allied and Axis forces during WWII to keep them awake. Japanese Kamikaze pilots were given high doses of this drug before a suicide mission. The use of injectable methamphetamine became rampant after the war when military supply of this drug became accessible to the Japanese civilians.
Methamphetamine became the wonder drug of the 1950’s. It was prescribed for weight reduction purposes and mental disorder such as depression. Its availability made this drug a popular choice among athletes, truck drivers and college students as a non-medical stimulant. Thus abuse of Meth spread in the 1960’s.
By the 1970’s the United States Federal government made it illegal to use methamphetamine. At about this time, the production and distribution of the drug were controlled by motorcycle gangs across the US. Meth became the poor man’s cocaine.
Mexican drug cartels set up large laboratories in California in the 1990’s. At the same time small home labs proliferated across the US, spreading into Europe. Currently, this drug is mostly manufactured in Thailand, Myanmar and China.1