Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is estimated to affect at least 1 million lives in the U.S. It can be consumed in several different ways such as snorting, swallowing, injecting and smoking the substance, which makes it more accessible to substance users and abusers. The effects of the drug can vary depending on the method of consumption. Common street names include meth, speed, crystal meth, ice, and glass, as it resembles shards of glass crystals. Methamphetamine addiction, also known as methamphetamine use disorder, is a serious and chronic condition characterized by the compulsive use of methamphetamine, a powerful and highly addictive stimulant. Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug that affects the central nervous system, leading to increased energy, alertness, and a sense of euphoria.
Types of Meth
- Also known as “crystal,” “ice,” or “crystal methamphetamine,” this is a crystalline form of meth that is typically clear or bluish-white. Crystal meth is often smoked in glass pipes, snorted, or injected. It is known for its high potency and long-lasting effects.
- This form of meth is a white, crystalline powder. It is less pure than crystal meth and may be cut or adulterated with other substances. Powdered meth can be snorted, swallowed, or dissolved for injection.
- Sometimes, meth may form crystals even in its powdered or tablet form. These crystals may not be as large or distinct as crystal meth, but they still indicate the crystalline structure of the drug.
Tablets or Pills:
- Methamphetamine may be pressed into tablet or pill form. These tablets are less common than other forms of meth and may be swallowed.
It’s important to note that methamphetamine is a highly illegal and controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse and severe health consequences. The use of meth is associated with various risks, including addiction, cardiovascular issues, dental problems (often referred to as “meth mouth”), and psychological effects.
Methamphetamine, a powerful and highly addictive stimulant, is known by various street names. Here are some common street names for meth:
- Meth: The shortened form of the drug’s name is often used informally.
- Crystal Meth: Refers to the crystalline form of methamphetamine, which is a purer and more potent version.
- Ice: Another term for crystal meth, reflecting its crystalline appearance.
- Glass: Similar to “ice,” it describes the transparent, glass-like appearance of crystal meth.
- Crank: An older slang term for methamphetamine.
- Speed: A generic term for amphetamine-based drugs, including methamphetamine.
- Tina: A common nickname for crystal meth.
- Chalk: Refers to the appearance of some methamphetamine crystals, which may resemble chalk.
- Go-Fast: Describes the stimulant effects of methamphetamine, suggesting increased energy and alertness.
- Blue Ice: Refers to methamphetamine with a bluish tint.
- Cristy: An alternative spelling of “crystal,” used as a nickname.
- Rocket Fuel: Highlights the drug’s ability to increase energy and alertness.
- Hiropon: A Japanese term for methamphetamine, particularly high-purity crystal meth.
- Yaba: Used in Southeast Asia, especially for methamphetamine tablets that may contain caffeine.
- Shards: Describes small fragments or pieces of crystal meth.
- Tweak: Refers to the jittery or hyperactive behavior sometimes associated with methamphetamine use.
- White Cross: Originally referred to pharmaceutical amphetamine tablets but has been used for methamphetamine.
- Bathtub Speed: Suggests that the drug is illicitly manufactured, sometimes in makeshift settings.
Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. While it was initially developed for medical uses, its illicit form is associated with serious health risks and legal consequences. Here are the primary uses of methamphetamine:
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): In the past, methamphetamine was prescribed for the treatment of ADHD and obesity. However, due to its high potential for abuse and addiction, its medical use is now extremely limited.
Narcolepsy: Methamphetamine has been used in the treatment of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden episodes of sleep.
Recreational Drug: Methamphetamine is commonly abused as a recreational drug for its stimulant effects. Users may experience increased energy, alertness, and a sense of euphoria.
Weight Loss: Due to its appetite-suppressant properties, some individuals misuse methamphetamine for its potential to aid in weight loss. However, this is highly dangerous and not recommended due to the associated health risks.
Enhancement of Cognitive Function: Some individuals misuse methamphetamine in an attempt to enhance cognitive function, focus, and productivity. However, the risks of addiction and adverse effects far outweigh any perceived cognitive benefits.
Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. When used illicitly, it is typically administered through the following routes:
- Method: Methamphetamine is often smoked in its crystalline form, known as crystal meth. Users heat the crystals, and the vapor is inhaled. Smoking meth provides a rapid onset of effects, with an intense and immediate high.
- Method: Methamphetamine powder can be finely crushed and then snorted through the nose. The drug is absorbed through the nasal mucosa, leading to a somewhat slower onset of effects compared to smoking.
- Method: Some individuals dissolve methamphetamine in water and inject it intravenously. Injecting meth provides the quickest onset of effects, as the substance directly enters the bloodstream. However, this method poses significant health risks, including the potential for infections, vein damage, and transmission of bloodborne diseases.
- Method: Methamphetamine can be ingested orally, typically in the form of pills or capsules. This method results in a slower onset of effects compared to smoking or injecting, as the drug must first be absorbed through the digestive system.
How Does Methamphetamine Work on the Brain and Body?
Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. It affects both the brain and the body in various ways. Here’s an overview of how meth works:
On the Brain:
Dopamine Release: Methamphetamine primarily acts by increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. It achieves this by promoting the release of stored dopamine and inhibiting its reuptake.
Enhanced Alertness and Energy: The increased dopamine levels result in heightened feelings of alertness, increased energy, and a sense of euphoria. This can lead to increased activity levels and a decrease in the perception of fatigue.
Increased Focus: Methamphetamine also affects other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and serotonin, contributing to increased focus and attention.
On the Body:
Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Methamphetamine stimulates the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the “fight or flight” response. This leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
Suppressed Appetite: Methamphetamine can reduce appetite, leading to weight loss. This effect is one reason why some individuals misuse the drug for its potential to aid in weight control.
Elevated Body Temperature: Meth use can result in an increase in body temperature, which, in extreme cases, may lead to hyperthermia, a potentially dangerous condition.
Dental Issues: Chronic meth use is associated with dental problems, often referred to as “meth mouth.” This includes tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, partly due to a combination of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, and teeth grinding.
How Long Does Methamphetamine Stay in Your System?
The half-life of a substance refers to the time it takes for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body. The half-life of methamphetamine can vary based on several factors, including individual differences, the route of administration, and the specific form of the drug.
For the common form of methamphetamine, which is typically taken orally or through smoking, the average half-life is around 10 to 12 hours. This means that, on average, it takes 10 to 12 hours for the body to eliminate half of the methamphetamine from the bloodstream.
It’s important to note that individual variations exist, and factors such as a person’s metabolism, age, liver function, and overall health can influence how quickly the body processes and eliminates methamphetamine. Additionally, different forms or preparations of methamphetamine, such as crystal meth, may have slightly different pharmacokinetic profiles.
Meth Onset and Duration
The onset and duration of effects of methamphetamine can vary depending on the route of administration. Here are general estimations for the most common methods of use:
Smoking or Intravenous (IV) Injection:
- Onset: The effects are typically felt within a few seconds after smoking or injection.
- Duration: The intense euphoria may last for about 5 to 15 minutes, followed by a more prolonged period of heightened energy and alertness lasting several hours.
- Onset: Effects are usually felt within 3 to 5 minutes.
- Duration: The duration of the effects can last around 15 to 30 minutes for the initial euphoria, with extended stimulation lasting several hours.
- Onset: The effects are slower to manifest, usually within 15 to 20 minutes.
- Duration: The duration can be longer compared to other methods, with effects lasting around 6 to 8 hours.
It’s important to note that individual responses to methamphetamine can vary, and factors such as the purity of the drug, the dose, and an individual’s tolerance and sensitivity can influence the onset and duration of effects. Chronic use can also lead to tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effects.
How Long is Meth Detectable in Your System?
The detectability of methamphetamine in the body depends on various factors, including the type of drug test used, the frequency of use, the dose taken, and individual variations in metabolism. Here are approximate detection windows for different drug tests:
- Methamphetamine is typically detectable in urine for 1 to 4 days after use. Chronic use may extend the detection window.
- Methamphetamine can be detected in blood for about 1 to 3 days. The drug is quickly metabolized, and its concentration in the bloodstream decreases relatively rapidly.
- In saliva, methamphetamine can be detectable for 1 to 2 days after use. Saliva tests are less common but may be used in certain situations.
- Methamphetamine can be detected in hair for a longer period, potentially up to 90 days. However, the standard detection window for most hair tests is often limited to the past 90 days.
It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and individual variations can occur. Factors such as hydration, kidney function, and metabolic rate can influence the excretion of methamphetamine and, consequently, its detectability in drug tests.
How To Get Meth Out Of Your System?
It’s crucial to note that attempting to “flush” or “detox” your system from methamphetamine (meth) or any other substance should be approached with caution. The most reliable method to clear your system of meth is to allow your body to naturally metabolize and eliminate the drug over time. Here are some general recommendations:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration supports the body’s natural detoxification processes, including elimination through urine.
- Consume a balanced and nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals. This supports overall health and can contribute to the body’s natural detox mechanisms.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise can help increase metabolism and promote the elimination of substances through sweat and urine.
- Allow time for your body to naturally process and eliminate meth. The duration will vary based on factors such as frequency of use, individual metabolism, and the amount used.
Abstain from Use:
- The most effective way to clear meth from your system is to abstain from using the drug. Continued use will prolong the detection window.
- If you have concerns about meth use or its impact on your health, seek professional help. Healthcare providers, counselors, or addiction specialists can offer support and guidance.
It’s important to note that quick fixes, detox drinks, or products claiming to rapidly eliminate meth from your system are often unreliable and may have adverse health effects. Additionally, attempting to cheat drug tests is not recommended, as it may lead to legal consequences and compromise your well-being.
Side Effects and Risks of Methamphetamine
Short-Term Side Effects of Meth Use:
- Increased energy and alertness
- Decreased appetite
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Dilated pupils
- Nervousness and irritability
- Agitation and aggressive behavior
- Tremors and twitching
Long-Term Side Effects of Meth Use:
- Addiction and dependence
- Severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Psychotic symptoms (paranoia, hallucinations)
- Cognitive deficits and memory loss
- Impaired motor skills
- Skin sores and infections
- Cardiovascular issues
- Respiratory problems
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- Mental health issues (anxiety, depression)
- Poor impulse control
- Increased risk of engaging in risky behaviors
Is Meth Addictive?
Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. The drug stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which are associated with pleasure and reward. The intense euphoria and increased energy users experience can lead to the development of psychological dependence. With continued use, tolerance can develop, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects.
Physical and psychological dependence on methamphetamine can occur relatively quickly, and users may find it challenging to control or stop their use despite experiencing negative consequences. The addictive nature of methamphetamine is a significant concern, and long-term use can lead to severe physical and mental health consequences.
Alcohol Use and Meth
The simultaneous use of alcohol and methamphetamine can have serious and potentially dangerous consequences. Both substances affect the central nervous system, and their combined use can lead to several risks:
Increased Risk of Overdose:
- Combining alcohol and methamphetamine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol. This may lead individuals to underestimate their level of intoxication, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning or overdose.
- Methamphetamine is a stimulant that increases heart rate and blood pressure. Combining it with alcohol, a depressant, can place additional strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart-related issues.
Impaired Judgment and Coordination:
- Both substances can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction times. Combining them can significantly increase the risk of accidents, injuries, or risky behaviors.
- The liver metabolizes both methamphetamine and alcohol. Concurrent use can place a greater burden on the liver, potentially increasing the risk of liver damage or toxicity.
Mental Health Effects:
- Combining alcohol and methamphetamine can exacerbate mental health issues. It may lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and other psychiatric symptoms.
- The combined use of alcohol and methamphetamine can contribute to the development of a polysubstance addiction, making recovery more challenging.
Worsened Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Withdrawal from methamphetamine or alcohol can be challenging on its own. Combining the two substances may result in more severe withdrawal symptoms and a higher likelihood of relapse.
It’s crucial for individuals using or considering the use of these substances to understand the risks and seek help if needed. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use or addiction, professional assistance, such as counseling, support groups, or rehabilitation programs, can be beneficial for recovery. Seeking help from healthcare professionals or addiction specialists is strongly recommended.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine addiction can have profound effects on physical and mental health, as well as overall behavior. Here are some common signs and symptoms of meth addiction:
Physical Signs and Symptoms:
Rapid Weight Loss: Chronic meth use can lead to a significant decrease in appetite, resulting in rapid and unhealthy weight loss.
Dental Issues: Often referred to as “meth mouth,” users may experience severe dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Skin Problems: Meth use can cause skin issues such as sores, acne, and a phenomenon known as “meth mites” or delusional parasitosis, where users believe they have insects crawling under their skin.
Dilated Pupils: Methamphetamine use can cause pupils to become dilated and may lead to sensitivity to light.
Excessive Sweating: Increased body temperature and metabolism can result in excessive sweating.
Twitching or Tremors: Users may exhibit involuntary movements, such as twitching or tremors.
Behavioral and Psychological Signs:
Increased Energy and Alertness: Users often display increased energy, hyperactivity, and a heightened state of alertness.
Agitation and Irritability: Meth use can lead to heightened anxiety, irritability, and aggressive behavior.
Paranoia: Chronic meth use is associated with paranoia, hallucinations, and a distorted sense of reality.
Sleep Disturbances: Methamphetamine is a stimulant, and users may experience insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.
Social Isolation: A person addicted to meth may withdraw from family and friends, leading to increased social isolation.
Neglect of Responsibilities: Individuals may neglect work, school, or family responsibilities as their focus shifts towards obtaining and using the drug.
Cognitive and Emotional Signs:
Impaired Memory and Concentration: Methamphetamine use can result in cognitive deficits, including impaired memory and concentration.
Mood Swings: Users may experience mood swings, ranging from extreme euphoria to deep depression.
Increased Risk-Taking Behavior: Methamphetamine can lead to impulsive behavior and increased risk-taking, which can contribute to accidents or dangerous situations.
Depression during Withdrawal: When not using the drug, individuals may experience symptoms of depression, fatigue, and a lack of motivation.
Fatigue and Increased Appetite: When not using meth, individuals may experience fatigue and an increase in appetite.
Increased Sleep: Users may sleep for extended periods during withdrawal.
It’s important to note that the severity of these signs and symptoms can vary, and the presence of one or more does not necessarily confirm methamphetamine addiction.
Seeking Help for Meth Addiction? We Can Help!
Types of Treatment Available (Most Covered by Insurance):
- Inpatient rehabilitation, also known as residential treatment, involves individuals residing within a treatment facility for a specified duration. This structured environment provides intensive care and support.
- Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while continuing their daily lives. They attend therapy sessions, counseling, and other interventions on a scheduled basis.
- Detox is the initial phase of treatment, focusing on safely and systematically removing substances from the body. It is often conducted under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Therapy and Counseling:
- Various therapeutic modalities, including individual counseling, group therapy, and family therapy, are crucial components of addiction and mental health treatment. These sessions help individuals explore and address underlying issues.
- MAT involves the use of medications, in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies, to address substance use disorders. It is particularly effective for opioid and alcohol addictions.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment addresses co-occurring mental health disorders alongside substance use disorders. It involves integrated interventions to holistically address both aspects of an individual’s well-being.
- Holistic approaches incorporate alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness. These practices aim to promote overall well-being and support recovery.
- Support groups, like those following the 12-step model (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), provide a community for individuals to share experiences, seek guidance, and foster mutual support.
- Sober living homes offer a transitional and supportive environment for individuals in recovery. They provide a structured living arrangement to reinforce sobriety.
- Mental health treatment specifically addresses psychiatric conditions. It may involve therapy, medication management, and other interventions to enhance emotional well-being.
- CBT is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is effective for both addiction and mental health concerns.
- DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with emotional dysregulation.
Motivational Interviewing (MI):
- MI is a client-centered counseling style aimed at eliciting behavior change by helping individuals explore and resolve ambivalence. It is effective in the early stages of recovery.
- Residential facilities provide immersive and structured treatment experiences for individuals requiring a more extended and intensive intervention.
- Programs within the community offer accessible and community-centered support for individuals with mental health concerns.
Inpatient Mental Health Treatment:
- Inpatient mental health treatment involves individuals residing within a treatment facility designed to provide a controlled and supportive environment for managing mental health conditions.
Understanding the diverse range of treatment options allows individuals to access the most suitable and effective interventions tailored to their unique needs. Seeking professional guidance is crucial to developing a personalized treatment plan.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Methamphetamine is typically detected in urine and hair samples, not blood.
The duration varies but can be prolonged, especially for heavy and long-term users.
Yes, meth addiction is treatable with comprehensive programs and professional support.
Yes, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be part of a treatment plan.
Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both substance addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders simultaneously.