About Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “meth,” is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Although most of the methamphetamine used in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, the drug is also easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. These factors combine to make methamphetamine a drug with high potential for widespread abuse.

Methamphetamine is commonly known as “speed,” “meth,” and “chalk.” In its smoked form, it is often referred to as “ice,” “crystal,” “crank,” and “glass.” It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. As with similar stimulants, methamphetamine most often is used in a “binge and crash” pattern. Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly – users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug.


As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.

In the latest findings from an ongoing study of the effects of prenatal methamphetamine exposure on child development, primary caregivers reported more signs of increased emotionality, anxiety, and depression in exposed children at ages 3 and 5 years. The caregivers also reported that at age 5, methamphetamine-exposed children were less able to sustain attention and more prone to act out aggressively or destructively than were nonexposed children.

Short-term use can result in:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Nervous physical activity
  • Severely decreased appetite
  • Increased respiration and/or increased body temperature
  • Burns, nosebleeds or track marks
  • Carelessness about appearance
  • Deceit or secretiveness
  • Violence and aggression
  • Presence of inhaling and injecting paraphernalia
  • Withdrawal from family, friends and co-workers
  • Loss of interest in work and family/community activities
  • Problems at work

Long-term use can result in:

  • Dependence even after using one or two times
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, mood disturbances, repetitive motor activities
  • Severe anorexia
  • Memory loss
  • Stroke, liver or heart failure

** In all cases of methamphetamine use, a user may experience a loss of inhibitions and a false sense of control and confidence, which can lead to dangerous behavior.


To learn more about the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change or to get more information about our alcohol and drug treatment programs, please contact us at 866-242-6670.