From Medical News Today: Learn about methamphetamine, a highly addictive and illegal drug that is known for its euphoric effects. Methamphetamine is the second highest illicit drug used worldwide.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and illegal psychostimulant drug that is used for its powerful euphoric effects which are similar to those of cocaine.
In contrast with cocaine, methamphetamine has a longer duration of action, is cheaper and is easily made with commonly available ingredients.
Developed in the early 20th century, methamphetamine was first used during World War II to help keep soldiers awake. After the war, it became a popular diet aid and non-prescription stimulant among college students, truck drivers, athletes and homemakers.
Methamphetamine's dangerous addictive properties eventually became widely evident, and in the 1970s, the drug was added to the list of controlled substances. Methamphetamine is illegal except for when it is prescribed by a physician for a very limited number of medical conditions.
Because of its evolved potency and the ease of its production, methamphetamine remains a serious drug of abuse. Long-term methamphetamine use is associated with many devastating effects to both the user and society.
Fast facts on methamphetamine
Here are some key points about methamphetamine. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- After cannabis, methamphetamine is the second most used illicit drug, with an annual global prevalence estimated at 0.4%
- Methamphetamine dominates the global market for synthetic drugs
- The majority of domestic methamphetamine is produced in "Mom-and-Pop" cook laboratories in home kitchens, workshops, recreational vehicles and rural cabins
- Using methamphetamine during adolescence is associated with adulthood depression
- Violent behaviors are common among methamphetamine users
- Methamphetamine is neurotoxic, capable of damaging dopamine and serotonin neurons in the brain
- Illicitly manufactured methamphetamine may include drain cleaner, ephedrine, antifreeze, lantern fuel, battery acid, hydrochloric acid, acetone (fertilizer), red phosphorus (matches or road flares) and lye
- Methamphetamine is commonly used as for its aphrodisiac effects and is related to higher frequencies of unprotected sexual intercourse
- The effects of methamphetamines can last for several hours whereas the effects of cocaine typically last less than 1 hour
- Studies in chronic methamphetamine users have shown structural and functional changes in the brain associated with emotion and memory, some of which may be irreversible
- If used during pregnancy, methamphetamine is associated with premature delivery, vaginal bleeding, smaller than normal fetuses and sudden death of the mother or developing fetus
- Methamphetamine toxicity is increased when it is combined with alcohol, cocaine or opiates.
What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, a variant of amphetamine, was first synthesized in Japan in 1893 from the precursor chemical ephedrine. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or ingested orally.