About Methamphetamine

Sobriety.ca Foundation. We're here to help.

Drug Rehab & Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Sobriety.ca Foundation offers a private, secure, tranquil residential rehab with personalized, individual treatment.

Call 1-888-999-8101

Listen to Gary, one of our many success stories, describe his experience with us:

More Success Stories

Quick Facts

  • DRUG CLASSIFICATION: Stimulant. schedule II (Canada), schedule II (U.S.A.), schedule II (INCB), Class B (U.K.)
  • FORM: Presciption pill form (Desoxyn, Methadrin). Powder form that contains methamphetamine hydrochloride. White crystals of methamphetamine (ice) (crystal) (crystal meth).
  • SLANG NAMES: Crystal, crystal meth, meth, ice, crank, tweak.
  • METHOD OF INGESTION: Swallowing a dose can take between 20 minutes to an hour to produce the effects. Snorting can take up to ten minutes. Intravenous and smoking provide the quickest results, instantaneous to 2 minutes.
  • COMMON IMMEDIATE EFFECTS AND RISKS: Euphoria, confidence, excitability. Can also be agitated and over-talkative and prone to delusions of grandeur. Nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations, stomach cramps and diarrhea can also occur. Heart attack or stroke. HIV or hepatitis contraction through using shared needles or unprotected sex.
  • COMMON LONGER TERM EFFECTS AND RISKS: Psychosis, paranoia, brain damage, causing permanent psychological problems. Liver damage, fatal kidney and lung conditions. Malnutrition. Loss of teeth ( Meth-mouth), and scarring of the skin due to obsessive scratching.

Methamphetamine is a stronger and longer acting chemical derivative of amphetamine. The same properties that make methamphetamine effective in the medical field also cause its potential for addiction.

Methamphetamine , also referred to as N-methylamphetamine, is closely related to amphetamine in its structure chemically. It moves through the body and the nervous system and performs as a powerful stimulant. Methamphetamine has a chemically similar name and structure to MDMA (Ecstasy), but the results of taking each drug are completely different. Most particularly, when taken recreationally, methamphetamine can give the user a feeling of confidence, and rushes of intense energy, while not providing the usual sympathetic , warm loving feelings associated with MDMA. MDMA’s slight psychedelic effect is also missing in methamphetamine. However drug induced psychosis can occur from methamphetamine overdose, with strong hallucinations and paranoid delusions as common developments.

How Methamphetamine Functions

Methamphetamine works by promoting the discharge of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters from their stores in neurons. Two specific neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, create the intense high of amphetamines. Both are released in great quantity by methamphetamine use.The dopamine component provides an enjoyable high as it fuels the reward centre of the brain, while norepinephrine energizes the body and brain by lighting up the fight or flight system.

Methamphetamine is more fat soluble than just amphetamine. This makes the passage through the body tissues easier, so the reaction to methamphetamine or high is more rapidly and profoundly felt. Methamphetamine is also harder for the body to metabolise for excretion, thus methamphetamine remains in the system longer than amphetamine or other drugs, which also prolongs and intensifies the high. Moreover when the body eventually breaks down metahamphetamine that breakdown produces amphetamine as a breakdown product, allowing the drug to work as a stimulant a second time.

Methamphetamine intoxication lasts between 6-8 hours before the high starts to lessen. Then as dopamine and norepinephrine levels start to diminish, the user begins to feel depressed and tired, so there is a strong feeling of temptation to redose with methamphetamine.

However, taking another dose never achieves the same level of intoxication of the original dose. Both norepinephrine and dopamine reserves are now somewhat depleted, and after the original dose the receptors for these neurotransmiters become less responsive as well. Nonetheless, an addict can continue using for 2-3 days or more by redosing at higher methamphetamine levels, and then the user runs a high risk of methamphetamine induced psychosis.

Methamphetamine Induced Psychosis

Amphetamine psychosis mimics the psychotic incidents of of paranoid schizophrenics. The violent mood swings, confrontational attitude, accompanied by paranoid beliefs that “they” are out to get them, make them much more likely to bear arms and use these weapons.

The excessive release of dopamine seems to be the cause of amphetamine induced psychosis. Antipsychotic medications like chlorpromazine can end the psychosis almost immediately.

Potential for Methamphetamine Addiction

How you use Methamphetamines will effect the dependency potential. When taken in low, prescribed doses, methamphetamine shows little propensity to cause an addiction. Using it intravenously or smoking it creates a high dependency potential. When large doses of methamphetamine are smoked or injected the effects reach the brain almost immediately causing an extreme high because dopamine levels soar. Almost the same phenomenon occurs when injecting or smoking most drugs. When compared to people who snort or swallow methamphetamine, they have a lower potential for addictions as they are not having the extreme highs and lows. Although, many addicts start off as light “weekend users”, they eventually become addicted because rather quickly they need stronger and more frequent doses to get high, or even function.

History and Usage Patterns

In 1919 the first record of a synthetic formulation of Methamphetamine took place, 30 years after the first amphetamine synthesis. Methamphetamine usage more or less follow the path first established by amphetamines, but neither drug was used as a prescribed medicine or a recreational high until the 1930’s.

There are medically useful properties of Methamphetamine, primarily those caused by the effect of the drug on the fight-or-flight system such as dilation of the airways, increased blood pressure and heart rate, heightened alertness and focus, as well as a suspension of appetite. They have also proven to be medically effective in treating Attention Deficit Disorder and as a diet aid to provide appetite suppression and thereby help treat obesity. Dilation of the airways can also help treat asthma and alleviate breathing difficulties.

During World War II, production increased because amphetamines were issued to soldiers. After the war, they were marketed and sold as diet aids and energy boosting pills. The public was able to buy them without prescriptions, so they quickly became popular amongst students and truck drivers, and others working long hours, or for those who wanted to lose weight. Growing abuse led to an enforcement of prescription only sales. This left a huge opening for an illegal market, which was quickly taken over by biker gangs. Crackdowns on doctors handing out prescriptions like candy, or prescription holders selling their pills, led to secret home laboratories that made methamphetamine from over the counter cold medications. In some communities meth cooking replaced illegal liquor stills as a source of illicit income.

Abuse of Methamphetamines has increased since the late 1980’s, soaring in rural areas in the 2000’s. Many home labs have proliferated in these areas, causing many fires, explosions, injuries and deaths, taking a heavy toll in human casualties, environmental damage, and adding the increased danger and criminality for anyone involved with the use of Methamphetamine.

Lately large scale meth cooking has been taken over by drug cartels and other organized crime groups to meet demand created by a crackdown on prescription opiate medication use as Oxycontin. Methamphetamine synthesis has even spawned the most dramatically acclaimed television show, Breaking Bad.

Methamphetamine Addiction

Sobriety.ca Foundation remains one of the best drug addiction treatment facilities in Canada. Located in the idyllic countryside, we provide individuals struggling with substance use disorders a variety of evidence-based addiction services and addiction treatment options. At Sobriety.ca Foundation, individuals living with methamphetamine addiction have access to individualized recovery programs with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. It is our goal to provide our patients with individualized evidence-based addiction treatments to move towards living a meth-free life. Patients at Sobriety.ca Foundation can look forward to the following:

  • Detoxification
  • Treatment in a residential setting
  • Methamphetamine intervention
  • Rehabilitation
  • SMART Recovery

Methamphetamine – What is it?

Methamphetamine (aka: meth) is closely related to amphetamine in terms of its chemical structure and its pharmacokinetic properties. Furthermore, its constituents are like that of ecstasy, however, it lacks the empathy and love-inducing effects. Additionally, meth lacks the mild hallucinogenic effects of ecstasy. Generally, it does provide a burst of energy and confidence which can be accompanied by subsequent paranoia and delusions.

Meth was first synthesized in the early 1900s and was used in a medical context to heighten an individual’s fight-or-flight response thereby increasing focus, alertness and oxygen consumption. This was advantageous for treating individuals with asthma, breathing difficulties, narcolepsy, and attention disorders. During the second world war, it was given to troops as a stimulant to aid in combat. Afterwards, they were put on the market as diet pills and were legally sold without a prescription. Consequently, they became widely used among truck drivers, students and other individuals who required sustained attention for long hours.

Use of methamphetamine spread rapidly and urgency was identified towards the late 50s. In response, governments mandated that a prescription be required to purchase the drug which led to an increase in illegal laboratories manufacturing meth. By the late 1980s, it was estimated that a half of a million people were using the drug.

Typically, methamphetamine is identified by its crystal-like structure which can be either white or blue- white being the purest form. However, meth can be disrupted in a tablet- or pill-like form or powder as well. As it happens, meth can be smoked (often when in crystal-form), injected, or ingested orally.

Methamphetamine Addiction – What does it look like?

Like many other drugs, addiction to meth is driven by symptoms of withdrawal and tolerance. Initially, an individual takes the drug which produces a state of euphoria, confidence, and energy. Once the high subsides, these effects begin to dissipate oftentimes leaving the individual in an emotional state worse than prior to taking the drug. This is a consequence of depleting the body of its naturally occurring neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in one shot. In response, individuals will almost immediately begin to seek out the next dose of the drug to compensate for the symptoms of withdrawal (e.g., low mood, lack of energy). Unfortunately, this drive is further strengthened by tolerance. As it happens, no subsequent consumption of the drug will produce effects as potent as the first usage, and the individual will require more of the drug to achieve the same average effects overtime.

Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness
  • Excessive talking
  • Feelings of well-being
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Impaired vision
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vomiting
  • Increased confidence
  • Agitation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Tremours
  • Psychosis
  • Risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Hepatitis or HIV through injection
  • Overdose

Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Dopaminergic and serotonergic system damage
  • Permanent psychological damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver damage
  • Organ failure
  • Overdose


Once ingested, meth promotes the release of norepinephrine and dopamine throughout the body in excess quantities. As it happens, norepinephrine stimulates the flight-or-fight response (i.e., the mind and body) and dopamine provides feelings of pleasure in accommodation by activating the brain’s reward system.

The constituent N-methyl of methamphetamine gives it lipid soluble properties thereby allowing it to pass through the blood-brain barrier rapidly upon ingestion. Furthermore, the same constituent makes it difficult for the body to metabolize the substance thereby allowing it stay in the body longer. As a double-whammy, once the body is able to metabolize methamphetamine, amphetamine is produced as a by-product, creating secondary effects as a stimulant.

Typically, a methamphetamine high lasts 6 – 8 hours before the effects begin to decrease. Consequently, individuals then begin to feel tired and low as norepinephrine and dopamine levels decrease. This initiates the temptation to seek out another dose of the drug.