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What You Need to Know About Drugs: Methamphetamines

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What They Are: Methamphetamines (say: meth-am-fet-uh-meenz) are stimulants. Stimulants are a type of drug that speed up your brain. They are produced as pills, powders, or chunky crystals called ice.

The crystal form, nicknamed crystal meth, is a popular drug, especially with young adults and for those who frequently go to dance clubs and parties.

Sometimes Called: speed, uppers, meth, crystal meth, chalk, ice, glass, Christmas tree, crank (when injected)
How They're Used: Methamphetamines are swallowed, inhaled, smoked, or injected into a vein.
What They Do to You: Swallowed or snorted (also called bumping) methamphetamines give the user an intense high. Injections create a quick but strong, intense high, called a rush or a flash.

Methamphetamines, like regular amphetamines, also take away appetite. It is a dangerous strategy sometimes used by people trying to lose weight quickly.

Methamphetamines give someone the ability to stay awake and do continuous activity with less need for sleep. They pump up a person's heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. They also cause irregular heartbeats, sweating, headaches, blurred vision, dry mouth, hot flashes, and dizziness.

People who abuse methamphetamines feel high and full of energy. They think the drug will allow their bodies to keep going and going. But methamphetamines are very damaging to the body and brain, especially with repeated use. Long-term use of methamphetamines can cause brain damage that causes problems with memory and body movement, mood swings, and violent behavior.

When used in larger doses, methamphetamines can cause dangerously high body temperature, confusion, convulsions (uncontrollable jerking body movements), and even death.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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