Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. It is also commonly referred to as “crystal meth” or “ice.” Methamphetamine was developed in Japan in 1919, and its cousin amphetamine was created in Germany in 1887. Their chemical structures are similar, although the effects of methamphetamine are stronger. In 1971, the US Congress passed a law that made amphetamine and methamphetamine mostly illegal apart from prescription use.
Methamphetamine use, like amphetamine, increases activity, decreases appetite for food, increases appetite for sex, generates a sense of well-being, and like other stimulant drugs, often leads to a desire to use more. Pharmaceutical methamphetamine is still available legally under the brand name Desoxyn. It is used to treat severe obesity, narcolepsy and ADHD. Pharmaceutical amphetamine is available by prescription under a number of brand names, most notably Adderall. Other amphetamine-like stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, are also widely prescribed. Methamphetamine and amphetamine have had popular use among athletes, soldiers in the military, and truck drivers.
While there are serious risks associated with methamphetamine, popular exaggeration often overshadows scientific facts about the drug and stigmatizes its users. Increased or prolonged use of methamphetamine can cause sleeplessness, which can impact appetite, blood pressure, mental health and susceptibility to illness. Anyone taking stimulant drugs is advised to be careful to moderate use, don’t mix with other drugs, including alcohol, and stay hydrated. Practicing safe sex and avoiding the sharing of equipment such as needles, straws or other utensils also helps to reduce risk.
To learn more about methamphetamine and other drugs, please go to www.drugpolicy.org