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Methamphetamine 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. The drug was developed early last century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like amphetamine, methamphetamine causes increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a general sense of well-being. However, methamphetamine differs from amphetamine in that at comparable doses, much higher levels of methamphetamine get into the brain, making it a more potent stimulant drug. It also has longer lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system.

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription. It is indicated for the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; but these medical uses are limited, and the doses are much lower than those typically abused.