Meth–or methamphetamine–was first synthesized in 1893 by a Japanese chemist. The original drug was used primarily for the medical treatment of narcolepsy, asthma, or to help individuals lose weight. But then the drug’s purpose changed in World War II when both Allies and Axis powers used the drug to keep troops awake and alert for long hours.

Once the war finished the use of meth skyrocketed, and became a large contributor to drug overdoses and deaths in the early to mid 1900s, eventually leading to the drug’s ban in the United States in 1970.

What is Meth / Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly effective and addictive stimulant, made to target the central nervous system. Originally developed in the early 20th century, methamphetamine was derived from another type of stimulant drug known as an amphetamine.

Originally synthesized to help treat narcolepsy, ADHD, asthma, or aid in weight loss treatments, meth was a medically approved stimulant medication that was typically distributed in bronchial inhalers or nasal decongestants. But despite its potential to aid in a variety of treatments in the early 2000s, many states in the U.S. made a hard play against the drug when its illicit use continued to increase.

Meth is an extremely powerful central nervous system stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria and high energy, which is commonly what it is “recreationally” used for. Because of the drug’s high abuse potential, but ability to aid in medical treatments, meth is classified as a Schedule II stimulant that needs a written prescription to obtain.

Get Help Now

Our intake team is ready to help you overcome addiction.
833-397-3422
What Can I Expect When I Call?
See Insurances We Accept
Take a Virtual Tour of Main Campus

How Do Methamphetamines Work?

Methamphetamines are powerful central nervous system stimulants, derived from amphetamines, to help treat conditions like narcolepsy, ADHD, asthma, and even influence weight loss. Typically distributed in medicinal forms where the drug is inhaled, or smoked illicitly, meth quickly acts by attaching to cells in the brain known as neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters carry messages to neurons in the brain that help to generate our thoughts, feelings, and even actions / reactions. Methamphetamines work by attaching themselves to these neurotransmitters, overriding the neurons in the brain to release specific chemicals–dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline–in large, reoccuring quantities. While in a person’s system, meth prevents the brain from recycling dopamine levels in order to continue the high, depleting dopamine levels in the body quickly, but allowing for the high to be more long lasting until a tolerance begins to grow.

Meth changes the way the brain works, altering chemicals levels and responses, which in turn result in individuals seeking out the drug more and more when they do use it.

How is Meth Used?

Despite its medical origin and original inhaled method of use, meth can come in several different forms, and be used–both in illicit and medical settings–in several different ways. The most common methods of methamphetamine use include:

  • Smoking: Which puts the drug very quickly into the bloodstream and brain, allowing users to feel an immediate and intense rush of pleasurable feelings / euphoria. This method’s high is extremely fast acting and pleasurable, which amplifies the drug’s potential for routine misuse and addiction.
  • Injecting: This also allows for the drug to enter into the bloodstream and brain quickly, sparking immediate and intense highs. This route also produces fast-acting and pleasurable rushes or highs that amply the drug’s potential to be routinely abused.
  • Snorting: Which produces a high 3 to 5 minutes after the initial inhale. This method is less often used than smoking or injecting, as it takes some time to work and does not produce the same “rush” that the former two methods produce. Snorting will produce a high, but not a rush, and will take around 5 minutes to interact with the brain where users will begin to feel its effects.
  • Ingesting: Which is probably the least used avenue of illicit meth use. Orally ingesting meth–like snorting meth–produces a euphoric high, but does not give users the intense “rush” like the first two methods listed. This method of meth use is also the slowest to act, taking anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes after being ingested, before onsetting its effects in the user.

Methamphetamines work very similarly to other stimulant drug types, often creating a series pattern of binging and crashing in illicit users who are looking to recreate the euphoria of their high again and again. Unlike other types of stimulant drugs though, methamphetamines have a longer period of time where the rush and high after using the drug last for, where typically the “rush” can last up to 30 minutes after use (instead of 5 like cocaine), and the “high” can last anywhere from 4 to 16 hours after use.

How is Meth Administered?

Meth can be used in many different illicit ways, but it can also be used for medically purposes. Back when it was first synthesized, the drug would be used in inhalers or nasal decongestants, but today individuals who use methamphetamines for medicinal purposes have other options for taking the medication.

Before attempting to take any methamphetamine for any medicinal purpose, it is important for you to note that you must have a prescription from your doctor to use and obtain the medication. Once you have taken this step, and have been medically cleared to take methamphetamines, you will find that you can legally take medicinal methamphetamines in the following forms:

  • Pill to be taken orally (through the mouth)
  • Dissolving tablets to be taken orally (through the mouth)

What Are Methamphetamines Used For?

In the past, meth was used to treat a wide variety of medical issues, including narcolepsy, ADHD, asthma, and help aid in weight loss. Today, the medical use of methamphetamines has changed slightly, with more restrictions and monitoring in place, and new ways to take the medication, but the medication generally is used to treat the same types of disorders / medical issues. Methamphetamines are used medically to help treat or manage:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive tiredness (narcolepsy)

The illicit uses of methamphetamines are a bit more broad. Meth is a powerful and addictive drug that has the ability to create intense feelings of euphoria and wellbeing. These intense feelings are what cause people to use and continue to misuse the drug time and time again. Other illicit uses for meth / methamphetamines include:

  • Euphoric rush
  • Decreased appetite (weight loss)
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased energy
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased sex drive
  • Intense feeling of well-being

What Does Meth Look Like?

Illicit meth and methamphetamines can have a variety of forms, and depending on which way they are being used, can look very different from one form to the other. Typically, medicinal methamphetamines are a pill or tablet that can come in a variety of colors–pink, orange, white, etc. Meth can also look like:

  • Crystals (or glass fragments, blue and white / off-white in color
  • Colorless crystals
  • Rocks (shiny, of various sizes, also blue and white in color)
  • Crystal like powder (white, orange, yellow, or off-white in color)
  • Pills / tablets (in varying sizes and colors, including pink, white, green, reddish-orange

Meth Slang & Street Names

Just like other illicit substances and drugs, meth has a great many names it can go by. These names are used in an attempt to hide the drug in plain sight and in everyday conversations, making the passage of the item from one hand to the other as easy for sellers and receivers as possible. As such, it is important to know these names so that you can be on alert for their use in any setting. Common meth slang and street names include:

  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Chicken feed
  • Batu
  • Bikers coffee
  • Chalk
  • Glass
  • Go-fast
  • Black beauties
  • Ice
  • Meth
  • Crystal meth
  • Hiropon
  • Methlies quick
  • Shabu
  • Poor man’s cocaine
  • Shards
  • Stove top
  • Trash
  • Speed
  • Yaba
  • Yellow bam
  • Vidrio
  • Tina
  • Tweak
  • Ventana
  • Uppers

Side Effects of Meth / Methamphetamines

Meth has many effects and symptoms of use, the most common and well known being the euphoric rush it can inspire in its users. But, not every effect of meth leaves such a happy after taste. In fact, meth can be associated with more than 15 adverse side effects and symptoms. The side effects most commonly associated with meth use include:

  • Faster breathing
  • Euphoria
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased attention
  • Increased energy
  • Increased activity
  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Inflated sense of self-confidence
  • Increased sense of power or control
  • Pleasurable sense of wellbeing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Raised body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle twitching
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased attentiveness
  • Increased distractibility
  • Severe dental problems
  • Severe mood swings / disturbances
  • Increased aggression
  • Increase in violent behaviour
  • Skin sores
  • Itching / scratching
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations (visual and auditory)
  • High potential to develop severe health issues (heart problems, stroke, tooth decay etc.)

Short Term Meth Effects

Methamphetamines have a lot of potential side effects. But, like other types of illicit and prescription drugs, not all of these effects occur at the same time. Some effects are reserved for more short-term time parameters, and some happen only over an extended period of time.

There is no set timeline of meth effects that will work for everyone, because the way in which effects occur can be influenced by personal biological factors, environmental factors, and even dosage factors. Yet, the meth side effects most commonly associated with short-term occurrence are:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased sense of control
  • Increased sense of self-importance
  • Increased sense of self-confidence
  • Increase in self-esteem
  • Pleasurable sense of wellbeing
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased activity
  • Increase in energy
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Talkativeness
  • Higher body temperature
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased attention
  • Decreased fatigue

Long Term Effect of Meth

Meth’s short term effects, although they may seem mild and largely harmless, often lead into much more severe, long term effects that can have a major impact on an individual and their lives–sometimes even after their use of methamphetamines ends altogether. There are short term methamphetamines effects and there are long term effects.

These long term effects are much more negative in nature, and may be filled with major consequences for meth addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease of the mind, it changes the chemical nature of the brain, and the way in which the mind works. If left unchecked, addiction can even begin to affect the body, and even be life threatening. The long term effects of illicit methamphetamine use include:

  • Addiction
  • Compulsive drug seeking
  • Drug cravings
  • Depression
  • Increase in anxiety
  • Increased fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • High blood pressure issues
  • Heart issues
  • Stroke
  • Risk for developing parkinson’s disease
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems (tooth decay)
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Intense itching / scratching
  • Skin sores (as a result of itching)
  • Violent behavior
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings / disturbances
  • Hallucinations (auditory and visual)
  • Delusions
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Reduced motor speed
  • Imparied speech
  • Impaired decision making
  • Lowered immune system
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Lack of self-care (bad personal hygiene)
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Increased distractibility
  • Severe weight loss
  • Developing other high risk health issues

How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

So, how long does meth stay in your system exactly? Ultimately, it depends on the individual, the dose they took, and a few other biological, environmental, and substance factors to determine how long an individual will have meth in their system and feel its effects. Depending on the method of intake, the short term effects of meth can begin immediately or even after 15 minutes after the dose. Sometimes these effects can last 30 minutes, and some can last anywhere from 4 to 16 hours, but again, it depends on the individual and their surrounding factors. Yet, despite all of these different factors, and methods of use, one thing you can count on is how long meth can be traceable in specific, testable, bodily fluids. Meth can remain traceable in the following testable body routes:

  • Blood: Drawn from the vein in normal blood testing fashion, meth is not immediately detectable in the blood stream until it hits the height of its toxicity, normally anywhere from 2 to 24 hours–but sometimes within a few minutes depending on the route the drug was administered in–after its intake depending on the dose. Meth can remain detectable in the blood anywhere from 36 to 96 hours after the last dose of the drug has been administered.
  • Saliva: Typically collected through the use of a sterile swab, detecting meth usage through saliva is probably the least used approach. Even though this method is rarely used for detection, meth can be detected in saliva as soon as 10 minutes after its use, and can remain traceable for nearly 4 days after the drug’s last use.
  • Urine: Meth detection in urine can be difficult, as meth can tend to either be diluted in this cycle, and must have an accumulation of the drug available in the individual’s system in order for the drug to be detected 7 days after the drug’s last use, but this is largely dependent on the dose taken, and how often it is administered.
  • Hair: It can take anywhere from 90 to 120 days for meth use to be detectable in hair follicles. This is due largely to the rate in which hair grows, and how quickly a drug can metabolism in the individual’s system, with the ability to permeate such an outer biological system. Meth is no longer detectable in hair–if the user abstains from all use–after 150 days from their last dose.

At the end of the day, meth detection can be a difficult process to undergo–for both the client and the provider. Meth’s reaction with the body can be very complex, and since each individual’s body has the potential to operate so differently from another persons’, the process of detection can become very complicated and taxing rather quickly. But, it is possible to get a positive test result from either saliva, hair, urine, or blood, if you are tested at the right time for methamphetamine use.

Is Crystal Meth Addictive?

Yes. Meth is a highly addictive drug, with a high abuse potential. Since the drug’s creation and use in the early 1900s, it has been used to help combat extreme medical issues. But with that ability to aid people, methamphetamines also come with great potential to be misused.

The misuse of methamphetamines can lead to dependence and addiction very quickly, whether used illicitly, or in a medical setting. If you or a loved one struggles with meth or methamphetamine use, call St John’s Recovery Place (SJRP) today at 833-397-3422 to discuss your next steps and options for seeking help. We are ready to help you start your recovery journey, and work towards re-obtaining a handle on a happy, healthy, drug-free life.

History. History of Meth. (2018, August 21). (2020, September 14).

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Research Report. Methamphetamine Research Report. What is Methamphetamine? (2019, October). (2020, September 14).

The New York Times. Meth, The Forgotten Killer, Is Back. And It’s Everywhere. (2018, February 13). (2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information. Methamphetamine Toxicity. (2020, August 10). (2020, September 14).

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Mind Matters: The Body’s Response to Methamphetamine. (Accessed 2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Methamphetamine Influences on Brain and Behaviour: Unsafe At Any Speed? (2013, September 1). (2020, September 14).

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Research Report. Methamphetamine Research Report. How is Methamphetamine Misused? (2019, October). (2020, September 14).

U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice. Meth Matters. Report on Methamphetamine Users in Five Western Cities. (1999, April). (2020, September 14).

Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information for You. Methamphetamine. (2017, June 15). (2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Current Research on Methamphetamine: Epidemiology, Medical and Psychiatric Effects, Treatment, and Harm Reduction Efforts. (2014). (2020, September 14).

Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Fact Sheet. Methamphetamine. (2020, April). (2020, September 14).

Maine. Section 4: Types of Methamphetamine, Manufacture and Labs. (Accessed 2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. The “Party Drug” Crystal Methamphetamine: Risk Factor for the Acquisition of HIV. (2008). (2020, September 14).

Medical News Today. Methamphetamine: What You Should Know. (2018, June 18). (2020, September 14).

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Research Report. Methamphetamine Research Report. What Are The Immediate (Short-Term) Effects of Methamphetamine Misuse? (2019, October). (2020, September 14).

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Research Report. Methamphetamine Research Report: What Are The Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use? (2019, October). (2020, September 14).

Australian Government: Department of Health. Factors Influencing Drug Effects. (2004). (2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Distribution and Pharmacokinetics of Methamphetamine in the Human Body: Clinical Implications. (2010, December 7). (2020, September 14).

National Center for Biotechnology Information: U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Methamphetamine Disposition in Oral Fluid, Plasma, and Urine. (2009, July 14). (2020, September 14).

National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information. Duration of Detection of Methamphetamine in Hair After Abstinence. (2015, September). (2020, September 14).