Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.

Other common names for methamphetamine include chalk, crank, crystal, ice, meth, and speed.

How do people use methamphetamine?

People can take methamphetamine by Inhaling/ smoking, Swallowing (pill), Snorting or Injecting the powder that has been dissolved in water/alcohol

Because the “high” from the drug both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.

Short-Term effects

Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same health effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. These include:

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and body temperature

How do manufacturers make methamphetamine?

Manufacturers make most of the methamphetamine found in the United States in “superlabs” here or, more often, in Mexico. But some also make the drug in small, secret labs with inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines. To curb production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail stores to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.