Methamphetamine (also called meth or speed) is a man-made stimulant drug.[1][2] Many people use it illegally, but it is occasionally used legally by prescription to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obesity as "Desoxyn".[1][3][4]

Methamphetamine has two isomers, "left-handed" and "right-handed". Left-handed methamphetamine helps fight stuffy nose and is legal. Right-handed methamphetamine makes people feel high and is mostly illegal. This page is mostly about the right-handed form.

Methamphetamine is very addictive.[2] This means that when people start taking the drug, they will want to keep taking more, even if it is making them sick.

Methamphetamine can be in powder or crystal form, and can be snorted, smoked, injected, or eaten.[5][6] In its smoked form, methamphetamine is known as "ice," "crystal," "crank," "batu," "barang," "cerita," or "glass".

Ways of using methamphetamine


When meth is snorted, the methamphetamine crystals are ground up and made into little lines (also called rails). Then they are inhaled through the nose with rolled-up paper, rolled-up dollar bills, empty plastic pen tubes, short plastic straws, or other things that can be made into a small "tube" shape.

When meth is snorted, its effects last longer than when it is smoked or injected. The effects can last as long as twelve hours.[7] However, it takes longer to feel the effects,[6] and there is not as strong of a "rush" (a very happy feeling called euphoria).[8]

Snorting methamphetamine can damage the nasal septum on the inside of the nose. Also, if people share the same snorting tube, they can get infections.


When meth is smoked, the crystals are placed into a glass pipe (called a "meth pipe") or a hollowed-out lightbulb. The crystals are warmed up from underneath by a flame (like from a lighter or matches). The methamphetamine is not actually "smoked" this way; it is heated up until it melts. When it melts, it turns into a gas that the user then breathes in.

Smoking meth causes euphoria to happen very quickly, and causes strong euphoria. However, the vapor (gas) can damage the lungs.


Methamphetamine can be mixed with water, then put into a needle and injected. Meth can be injected under the skin (this is called "skin-popping); into a muscle; or into a vein. Injecting meth into a vein causes the quickest, strongest euphoria.

Injecting meth can damage the body in many ways. It is very addictive. People can get infections (including HIV, hepatitis C, and many others) from dirty needles.


If methamphetamine is eaten, it gets absorbed into the body from the digestive system. The effects take longer to start, but they last longer.


Desired effects

Desired effects are the things people want to feel when they take methamphetamine. These include:

  • Euphoria
  • Having a lot of energy
  • Being able to stay awake for a long time
  • Losing weight

Adverse effects

Adverse effects are the bad things that using methamphetamine can cause. Meth has many adverse effects. For example:


Methamphetamine is very addictive.[2] This means that when people start taking the drug, they will want to keep taking more, even if it is making them sick.

One of the reasons meth is so addictive is that people feel very bad when the effect begins to wear off. Many users claim to have an uncontrollable urge to get more of the drug after using it.

When people are addicted to meth, they will have withdrawal symptoms when they do not take meth. This means they will feel tired and/or hungry when they do not have the drug. For example, without meth, people will feel anhedonia. This means they cannot feel good without taking meth.


Overdosing on meth (taking too much) can make a person very sick. Some of the symptoms of methamphetamine overdose are very dangerous, and can even kill a person. For example, overdosing on meth can cause:[9]

"Meth Mouth"

A suspected case of meth mouth

"Meth Mouth" is a term used to describe destroyed teeth in people that use methamphetamine. Meth mouth can happen very quickly. A new addict can go from having healthy teeth to losing all of their teeth in as little as one year. The decay (rotting teeth) is not caused by methamphetamine itself, but by meth users not brushing their teeth, having a lot of sugary drinks, and having dry mouth.

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of a meth addict is 5-10 years.[10]

Other effects on the body

Methamphetamine's effects on the body can include:[11]

Effects on feelings and behavior

Methamphetamine's effects on feelings and behavior can include:[11]

Long-term effects

Taking meth over a long time can cause Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, a teenager taking methamphetamine can show symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.[12]

People who take meth over a long time often have serious psychological problems, like:[9]

  • Mood swings (very quick changes in mood)
  • Delusions (believing things that are not true)
  • Very bad paranoia


  1. 1.0 1.1 "METHAMPHETAMINE (Trade Name: Desoxyn®; Street Names: Meth, Speed, Crystal, Glass, Ice, Crank, Yaba)" (PDF). Office of Diversion Control. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. July 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "NIDA – Research Report Series – Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  3. "DESOXYN" (PDF). Food and Drug Administration. pp. 1, 7. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  4. "CRS Report for Congress" (PDF). May 22, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  5. "NIDA – Research Report Series – Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Methamphetamine Fast Facts". Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  7. "Illinois Attorney General – Basic Understanding Of Meth". Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  8. "CEWG Publications – 6/99 Seattle Advance Report – Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse – NIDA". Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Heller, MD, MHA, Jacob L. (April 5, 2013). "Methamphetamine Overdose". United States National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved December 31, 2015.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 "DrugFacts: Methamphetamine". U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. January 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  12. "Signs of Methamphetamine use in youths – Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information – Vermont Department of Health". Retrieved January 23, 2011.