What are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines, otherwise known as ‘speed’ on the streets, are stimulant drugs that affect the central nervous system (CNS). Its use results in an increase in certain types of brain activity, resulting in a feeling of higher energy, focus, and confidence. In a dose-dependent manner, it can elicit a rewarding euphoria. Amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in the late 1800s. However, its stimulant properties were not really discovered until about the 1930s, when it began to be used to treat nasal congestion.
As time went by, amphetamine began to be used to treat a variety of conditions, from alcohol headaches and hangovers to weight loss. It was also used to treat two mental health conditions attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a condition in which people fall asleep suddenly. Occasionally, it is used in depression treatment.
Amphetamines are also sometimes referred to as ‘smart drugs’ or ‘club drugs’. There is widespread use among younger generations who believe that these drugs are accessible and ‘safe’ compared to more potent drugs such as heroin. Despite this perceived positive image, the effects of an amphetamine addiction on your health and other aspects of your life can be equally as devastating.
Much like the abuse of other illegal stimulant drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy), which is a derivative of amphetamines, people who take amphetamines intending to suppress appetite or feel less tired can become trapped in a cycle of repeated use that can lead to dependence and, ultimately, addiction.
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What Kind of Drugs are Amphetamines?
Many amphetamines are Schedule II controlled substances, which means they have a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use (in FDA-approved products). Pharmaceutical products are available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.
The side effects of excitement and euphoria when using amphetamines mean that its use is not limited to healthcare. The addictive qualities of amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin are mostly observed within party scenes across the world amongst individuals who are trying to enhance exam performance or even as an alternative to dieting due to their weight loss properties.
People who abuse prescription drugs like amphetamines will likely buy them from the illegal drug market. There, the drugs are sold under street names or drug slang names such as Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, Ice, Speed, Uppers. Amphetamine’s effect is similar to cocaine, but the slower onset and longer duration. Side effects of this drug include increased body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, physical exhaustion. Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia: paranoia, hallucinations, violent and erratic behavior. Overdose can be fatal.
What are Some Examples of Amphetamines?
Some amphetamines are prescribed by doctors to treat various health conditions. Other amphetamines are sold illegally on the street. Both types pose a high risk of abuse and addiction.
The most popular prescription amphetamines include:
- Adderall/Adderall XR (a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are both amphetamine salts)
- Desoxyn (methamphetamine, which is a derivative of amphetamine)
- Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
- Dynavel (amphetamine)
- Evekeo (amphetamine)
- ProCentra (dextroamphetamine)
- Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine, which is a derivative of amphetamine)
- Zenzedi (dextroamphetamine)
Other popular prescription stimulants include methylphenidate (which is sold under the brand names Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, and Ritalin) and dexmethylphenidate (which is sold under the brand name Focalin). Although these drugs aren’t technically amphetamines, they have similar effects.
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What are Methamphetamines?
Methamphetamine is a kind of amphetamine. The two have similar molecular structures, similar mechanisms of how they work, and therefore have similar effects such as euphoria and increased energy. Meth both increases the levels of dopamine and blocks its reuptake, which leads to extremely high concentrations of dopamine in the brain. However, meth is much more powerful than prescription stimulants and other amphetamines in general.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified methamphetamine as a Schedule II controlled substance, making it legally available only through a nonrefillable prescription. Medically it may be used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and as a short-term component of weight-loss treatments. However, these uses are limited, and it is rarely prescribed. Also, the prescribed doses are far lower than those typically misused. The FDA-approved brand-name medication is Desoxyn.
Methamphetamine (meth) was developed early in the 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Regular meth is a pill or powder. Crystal meth resembles glass fragments or shiny blue-white “rocks” of various sizes. Meth is swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. To intensify the effects, users often take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their method of intake. It is also combined with fentanyl, also known as speedballing which increases the risk of overdose and can be fatal.
Meth is a highly addictive drug with potent stimulant properties. Those who smoke or inject it report a brief, intense sensation or rush. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. Long-term meth use results in many damaging effects, including addiction. High doses may result in death from stroke, heart attack, or multiple organ problems caused by overheating.
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What are the Ingredients in Methamphetamine?
Meth can be illegally made by combining pseudoephedrine and a number of household items. These ingredients are then heated with makeshift “cooking” appliances, including coffee filters, glass bottles, and hoses.
The key ingredients used to cook meth are pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is found in many over-the-counter cold medicines, such as Sudafed. It can reduce sinus congestion and is not dangerous when taken on its own as directed.
Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant drug. It was a part of over-the-counter weight loss supplements, but this use was banned by the FDA in 2003 due to its risks. Ephedrine is now available by injection to treat low blood pressure.
These substances, especially pseudoephedrine, are still widely available and cheap to buy. Mixing them with common ingredients can be inexpensive for meth makers.
Common items that can be used to make meth include:
- Lithium (taken from lithium batteries)
- Lye (sodium hydroxide) and hydrogen peroxide
- Antifreeze and drain cleaner
- Freon (gas found in AC units)
Due to the ingredients used and the process of cooking meth, the production of this illicit drug can lead to a variety of health risks.
Many products used to make meth are flammable. Acetone, paint thinner, battery acid, and other products can all catch fire at any point during the cooking process. The constant risk of fires or explosions makes meth labs a dangerous place.
Meth production involves hazardous chemicals. Battery acid, antifreeze, drain cleaner, and other ingredients can leave toxic waste behind after the process is over.
Simply standing in a meth lab may lead to inhaling large quantities of these toxic chemicals. Inhaling or touching these chemicals can cause burns, shortness of breath, chest pains, and dizziness. Exposure to toxic waste left by meth can also affect your long-term health. Your risk of cancer, brain damage, and other serious effects may increase.
What are the Side Effects of Methamphetamine?
Because meth causes a rush of euphoria, it’s highly addictive.
It can also lead to other serious health problems, including:
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity
- Decreased appetite
- Faster breathing
- Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
- Extreme weight loss
- memory loss
- Violent behavior
- Changes in brain structure and function
- increased blood pressure and body temperature
- Psychosis (a loss of connection with reality characterized by hallucinations and delusions)
- Severe dental problems (also called “meth mouth”)
- Severe scratching that causes sores and scabs
- Liver, kidney, and lung damage
- Permanent damage to the brain or heart
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Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine – Difference Between the Two Stimulants
Although there are several similarities between amphetamine vs methamphetamine, there are also a few key differences. Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that doctors can prescribe to treat various medical conditions. In contrast, methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is often abused and sold illegally on the streets. Therefore, when comparing amphetamine vs methamphetamine, it is important to recognize their differences and understand the dangers of each.
The main difference between amphetamine vs methamphetamine is that more significant amounts of meth get into the brain than amphetamine, meaning meth is more powerful. The side effects of meth also last longer than those of amphetamine, making it a more potent and highly addictive drug. Additionally, meth is a street drug that contains various harmful chemicals. Unlike amphetamine, which is more controlled in creation and production, meth is made of random substances, from anhydrous ammonia to acetone to fentanyl. Amphetamine, unless sold as Speed or Meth, doesn’t contain these chemicals, making it suitable for medical practice and use with a prescription.
Regardless of their differences, one thing is for sure: both amphetamine and methamphetamine are addictive and dangerous. Many have especially suffered the repercussions of crystal meth abuse, leading to tooth loss and decay (meth mouth), skin picking disorder and skin diseases (meth mites), kidney damage, liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Which is More Deadly – Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine Addiction?
When it comes to amphetamines vs methamphetamines on addiction potential, both carry a significant amount of risk. Both drugs result in high levels of dopamine output which puts users at risk of developing tolerance and dependence (not to mention the risk of overdose, and other consequences such as respiratory issues, health problems, and severe dental damage). However, the increased potency of crystal meth also makes addiction to it even more dangerous than addiction to prescription amphetamines.
Meth addiction is also more dangerous than an amphetamine addiction and may lead to more severe health problems. Meth is often accompanied by the noticeable deterioration of a person’s physical appearance, commonly known as meth face, and may lead to secondary problems in various aspects of a person’s life. Our meth detox program at We Level Up NJ helps people safely wean their bodies off this drug and take the first step to stop its abuse.
Gaining lasting recovery after any meth addiction proves difficult and has a long road to wellness. You can achieve this wellness with the right help. You need an array of therapies, programs, and services, such as:
- Medically assisted detox
- Inpatient addiction rehab
- Behavioral therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and holistic treatment program
- Individual, family, and group counseling as help for family members of drug addicts
- Coping skills and life skills to prevent relapse
- Quality nutrition and medical care
Inpatient drug rehab provides a drug-free place away from obstacles that could trigger your cravings. You typically stay in a substance abuse treatment center for several weeks and participate in individual and group therapies. If you or a loved one is struggling with stimulant addiction and you want to know more about the difference between Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine, We Level Up NJ addiction specialists are standing by to help.
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 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
 DEA – https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Amphetamines-2020_0.pdf
 DEA – https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
 NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631950/