While similar in name, amphetamines and methamphetamines are indeed different drugs. Both are in the family of psychostimulants, which is to say they speed the heart rate, increase metabolism and improve focus. But while amphetamines have at times been used for medical/pharmaceutical purposes, methamphetamine is, in all cases, far too dangerous and addictive to prescribe.
In the short term amphetamines, also known as ‘speed,’ produce focus and even weight loss, and have been prescribed for conditions such as ADHD and obesity. But the effects are not so easily tamed and the drug is highly addictive. Dizziness, shaking and elevated heart rate are common side effects.
Methamphetamine will produce these same reactions in the body but meth is faster, more severe, and more addictive. Produced in small-scale home laboratories, it is sold on the street in crystalized freebase liquid form and is either injected, ingested, snorted or smoked.
Because of the stimulant nature of these kinds of drugs, meth users may experience sleeplessness and loss of appetite. In addition to the physical effects of the drug, some desirable and some less so, the drug also produces psychological effects such as feelings of euphoria, increased libido and hallucinations. Less desirable is the tendency toward psychosis, paranoia, skin picking, hair pulling, insomnia and aggression.
Recent years have seen a marked rise in the use of methamphetamines in the form of crystal meth. This drug is highly addictive and a threat to the user’s physical and mental health. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine carry significant dangers of addiction and bodily harm in any form or quantity.
Treatment for crystal meth addiction will always involve an initial detoxification process during which a doctor monitors the addict and pharmaceutical therapies are administered to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms.
Crystal meth is a powerfully addictive substance and the body does not give it up willingly. Withdrawal symptoms may range from irritability, anxiety and feelings of fatigue, to full-blown psychosis and depression. In order to detox crystal meth from the body it is recommended that the individual be under the care of a physician and within a treatment setting. Unmonitored detox can lead to severe anxiety, depression, psychosis and even suicide.
An Evil Legacy
As with most illicit drugs, methamphetamine use causes severe damage to both the brain and the body. Long term users of crystal meth become associated with conditions physical such as ‘meth mouth,’ meth lesions, hair loss, extreme malnutrition and weight loss, internal bleeding and the failure of the body’s organ systems. But the drug also bears a neurological threat. Long term effects of amphetamines and methamphetamine, which are highly neurotoxic, may include seizures, psychosis, memory loss, schizophrenia, paranoia and even Parkinson’s disease. In the end, prolonged, untreated use of methamphetamines will result in death either through failure of the body’s internal organs and systems or suicide.
Because methamphetamine permanently alters brain chemistry, addicts may experience flashbacks, schizophrenia-like psychosis, and other withdrawal symptoms long after the drug has been eliminated from the body. If you or someone you know struggles with amphetamine or methamphetamine addiction, do not delay in seeking professional help.