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What is methamphetamine?     Send a link to a friend

[SEPT. 14, 2004]  Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that dramatically affects the central nervous system. The drug is made easily in 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 in this century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Methamphetamine's chemical structure is similar to that of amphetamine, but it has more pronounced effects on the central nervous system. Like amphetamine, it causes increased activity, decreased appetite, and a general sense of well-being. The effects of methamphetamine can last six to eight hours. After the initial "rush," there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior. 

 

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Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. There are a few accepted medical reasons for its use, such as the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder and -- for short-term use -- obesity; but these medical uses are limited.

[Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute on Drug Abuse.]

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