Methamphetamine (also called meth, crank, speed or ice) is a highly addictive drug, known for its potent stimulant effects on the central nervous system. It is frequently confused with drugs that produce similar effects, including amphetamine, methylphenidate, ephedrine, and caffeine, among others, both legal and illegal. Crystal meth and ice refer to the smokable, free base form which has a crystal-like structure.
The chemical name of methamphetamine is N-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine or d-N,alpha-dimethylphenethylamine .
Methamphetamine is illegal in most countries. In the United States, methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), available by prescription under the brand name Desoxyn. The drug is approved to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and for weight loss. The United States allows small amounts of the levoisomer—which has weak CNS effects—to be sold without prescription in over-the-counter nasal inhalers for temporary relief of congestion.
In 2005, Congress passed a law restricting the sale of the over-the-counter decongestant ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which were frequently used to synthesize methamphetamine. Purchase of medications containing pseudoephedrine is restricted to limited quantities and recorded in a pharmacy ledger; people have been arrested for exceeding the limits, purchasing pseudoephedrine medications at multiple pharmacies.
Chemically, methamphetamine is very similar to amphetamine but exerts more potent effects. It may be swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected. Inhaled or injected, onset is rapid, and the effects generally last 4–8 hours. Users of this drug typically experience euphoria, excitement, anorexia, and may become nervous or even psychotic. Sweating, dizziness, insomnia, and restlessness may also occur. In smaller clinical doses, it improves attention, and reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness in persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while anorexia is usedful for weight loss and increased wakefulness is beneficial in narcolepsy. The drug is rarely prescribed due to its abuse potential and neurotoxicity.
Methamphetamine has a high abuse potential and is very addictive, particularly when it is injected or smoked. Some users prefer it to cocaine because of the longer half-life. Withdrawal can produce profound depression and fatigue; relapse is common. Doctors sometimes prescribe slow acting amphetamine or methylphenidate during withdraw or as maintenance to reduce incidence of relapse.
Main article: Homosexuality and Illegal Drug Use
Methamphetamine use has become very common in the homosexual community, demonstrating the destructive effects of the gay lifestyle. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2007 that the frequency of methamphetamine use is twenty times greater among homosexuals than in the general population. Its use promotes more frequent and indiscriminate sexual behaviors increasing the spread of HIV. With the increased abuse of methamphetamine among the general public, the proportion of methamphetamine users among homosexuals has also surely increased. In fact, gay and lesbian high school students in Washington, DC are ten times more likely to have used methamphetamine than their peers, indicating that the dramatic levels of abuse among homosexuals starts early. It also suggests that methamphetamine abuse may lead persons to homosexuality, an overlooked grave danger.
- 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment of Meth
- New law could mean bad news for allergy sufferers
- More Gay Men Using Meth, Study Finds, by R. Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, April 11, p. B6.
- Methamphetamine and amphetamine use is on the rise, StopDrugs.org
- Current.com Gay DC high schoolers use meth