Amphetamine, Meth and Speed

If you watch the show Intervention, it’s easy to figure out that meth use (speed) is quite popular in certain circles. It’s cheap, easy to get and it temporarily makes you feel good.

What is speed?

Methamphetamine—speed or meth for short—is a white, bitter powder. Sometimes it’s made into a white pill or a clear or white shiny rock (called a crystal).

Meth powder can be eaten or snorted up the nose. It can also be mixed with liquid and injected into your body with a needle. Crystal meth is smoked in a small glass pipe.

It’s cheap and easy to find.

Meth at first causes a rush of good feelings, but then users feel edgy, overly excited, angry, or afraid. Their thoughts and actions go really fast. They might feel too hot.

Some slang names for meth are:
  • Crank
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Chalk

Methamphetamine can be prescribed or bought illegally. Both can be abused. The dependence starts when you need the drug to function normally. If you are hooked, you will feel symptoms of withdrawal, if you stop using the drug.

You have a higher risk of developing amphetamine dependence if you:

  • live in the Western, Southwestern, and Midwestern parts of the United States. (click on the map below to see the statistics)
  • have easy access to amphetamines
  • live in an area where meth use is viewed as “acceptable”
  • have mental problems such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety
  • have low self-esteem or relationship problems
  • have a stressful lifestyle
  • have emotional problems
  • have financial problems

What Are the Symptoms of Amphetamine Dependence?

If you are hooked on meth, you may:

  • miss work or school
  • not complete tasks or perform tasks as well
  • not care about the way you look
  • not eat (lose weight)
  • have severe dental problems (see-meth mouth)
  • steal to get money to support your drug habit
  • try to hide your abuse from others
  • use drugs when you are alone
  • experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using meth
  • act violently
  • have anxiety, insomnia, and paranoid thoughts
  • it is also common to have delusions, such as thinking something is crawling underneath your skin

How Is Amphetamine Dependence Diagnosed?

To meet the criteria for an amphetamine dependence diagnosis, withdrawal you must have three or more of the following symptoms that have occurred within the same 12-month period:

  • tolerance to an amphetamine (you need a larger amount to the withdrawal
  • that is characterized by depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and intense cravings.
  • You may need to use a similar drug to relieve or avoid amphetamine withdrawal symptoms
  • you use larger amounts of amphetamine or use it for longer periods than intended
  • you have been wanting to cut down or stop using amphetamine but have been unsuccessful
  • you spend a great deal of time trying to get more amphetamine
  • you miss out on or do not go to as many recreational, social, or work activities because of your amphetamine use
  • you continue to use amphetamine even though you know it is causing you to have persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems

Meth Mouth

Meth users’ teeth become broken, stained, and rotten. Meth users often drink lots of sweet things, grind their teeth, and have a dry mouth. This is called “meth mouth.”

Before and After Photos

People who use meth start looking old. Meth users burn a lot of energy and don’t eat well. This can make them lose weight and look sick. Their hands or body might shake. Their skin looks dull and has sores and pimples that don’t heal. Their mouth looks sunken as the teeth go bad.

What is the Long-Term Outlook?

Meth addiction can be difficult to treat. Going to a treatment program and individual counseling is typically the best option.

Can I Prevent Amphetamine Dependence?

You can’t prevent the abuse. However, if you are addicted to meth you can get treatment.  It’s up to you to ask for help.

Methamphetamine. (n.d.). U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved April 14, 2012, from  Tiihonen, J. et al. (2007). A comparison of aripiprazole, methylphenidate, and placebo for amphetamine dependence.. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(1), 160-162. Srisurapanont, M. et al. (2001). Treatment for amphetamine dependence and abuse.. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (4) CD003022.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition (Fourth Edition Text Revision ed.). : Amer Psychiatric Pub.

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