Since ancient times, the human being has always consumed psychoactive substances that alter the nervous system in different ways: they excite us and make us feel more energetic, they make us have hallucinations or they relax us and lead us to a state of trance.

Around 3000 BC, products of this type were already being used, but drugs have evolved over time. Nowadays, not only natural drugs are consumed, but also human beings have created different synthetic psychoactive substances with powerful effects for the users. In this sense, one of the most popular drugs, especially in the United States and some European countries, is methamphetamine (deoxyhedrine), also called “crystal meth” or “ice” . Below we will look at its characteristics and effects.

Methamphetamine-a stimulant and addictive drug

This substance is a powerful psychostimulant that has a structure similar to dopamine, a neurotransmitter generated by our body. Although there are other stimulants such as cocaine or MDMA that are consumed very frequently, their effects are very different.

Methamphetamine belongs to the phenethylamine family and to the amphetamine group . The origin of its synthesis is found in Japan, in 1919, but it did not appear in Europe until 20 years later. It seems that during the Second World War, the Nazi party used methamphetamine to stimulate its troops and thus make them think they were invincible. The drug used by the German army was called “Pervin”.

On the other hand, methamphetamine is one of the drugs that causes the most suffering, and also is among the drugs that generate the most intense addiction . The effects of the abuse of this substance can be dramatic, especially on a physical level, since it is considered a predatory drug.

Chemical composition

The chemical composition of methamphetamine is related to amphetamine sulphate, as it is synthesized through the addition of a methyl group in the nitrogen atom of amphetamine. Its chemical formula is C10H15N .

This drug usually comes in the form of colourless transparent crystals , and can appear with different degrees of purity depending on the method used for its production. Although this drug is often confused with MDMA, they are two different substances and their effects are completely different.

Differences between drugs

Let’s look at some of the things that help distinguish between methamphetamine and other drugs.

Differences between crystal meth and MDMA

There is often some confusion with this drug, because it is possible to find both MDMA and methamphetamine crystal. Although they look similar, it is necessary to distinguish their effects. While the effects of methamphetamine are stimulating and euphoric, those of MDMA are empathetic, that is, they induce empathy, with less marked stimulating consequences.

The doses of these substances also tend to vary: the average dose of the latter drug is 75-150 milligrams and that of methamphetamine is 12-30 milligrams. Making mistakes and taking 75 grams of methamphetamine can cause very serious effects , such as hyperstimulation, agitation, nervousness, anxiety and paranoia.

Methamphetamine produces a very pronounced insomnia effect that can last up to a day, while it is possible to go to bed and fall asleep a few hours after MDMA wears off. Methamphetamine is also much more addictive than the latter drug.

Differences between methamphetamine and cocaine

Methamphetamine releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain and central nervous system, as do cocaine and ecstasy. However, unlike those substances, the former has a much longer release time and its effects can last from six to 12 hours in a single dose.

With respect to cocaine, methamphetamine has a number of differences. As discussed, methamphetamine is a stimulant drug, just like cocaine. However, the latter is also a local painkiller. Cocaine is derived from the plant and methamphetamine is a designer drug. It takes approximately 12 hours for a person’s body to eliminate 50% of this synthetic substance; in contrast, it takes one hour to eliminate the same percentage of cocaine . Both drugs can be smoked, but the duration of methamphetamine’s effect is much longer.

Side effects of this substance

The effects of methamphetamine are devastating. On a social level the person is seriously harmed, but on a physical level, the abuse of this substance can lead to serious malnutrition and health problems. Among its side effects we can find

  • Emaciated physical appearance.
  • Tremors.
  • Disturbed sleep patterns.
  • Seizures.
  • Memory loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Repetitive motor activity.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Mood swings.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Psychosis: paranoia and hallucinations.
  • Emotional disorders.
  • Serious dental problems.
  • Death.

Methamphetamine as a medicine

There is also some confusion because methamphetamine can be used to create medication ; however, the molecule found in pharmacies has nothing to do with this highly addictive drug.

Some medications such as Vicks’ inhaler contain L-methamphetamine, which is a dangerous and illegal chiral drug molecule, i.e. D-methamphetamine. Both are asymmetrical molecules that mirror each other, but their effects are completely different. While one is treated for nasal congestion, the other causes serious health effects.

How do I detect if my child is a drug user?

If you think your child is a drug user, you may be interested in this article: “How to Tell if My Child is Using Drugs: 10 Keys to Detecting It.