Amphetamines and methamphetamines are stimulant drugs that speed up the body’s central nervous system, which is the reason why they are often referred to as speed. They are made from a variety of chemicals and are usually produced in illegal laboratories. Some common street names for amphetamines are crystal and crank. Crystal usually comes in a powder form that can be inhaled, injected, swallowed. Crank comes in tablets or capsules. Methamphetamines known as ice and glass are smokeable.
Typical effects of amphetamines and methamphetamines include surges of energy, feeling talkative and restless, increased heart rate and blood pressure and enlarged pupils. With larger doses people can become hostile, violent, and paranoid. They may also experience fevers, sweating, headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Effects can last 6 to 8 hours if injected or taken by mouth and 10 to 12 hours if smoked.
Amphetamines and methamphetamines are extremely addictive drugs and the body quickly builds up a tolerance to them. Withdrawal symptoms can also occur if you are a regular user and you suddenly stop taking the drug. Symptoms such as extreme fatigue, hunger, irritability and depression can occur.
Long-term use can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. One of the more common consequences of using amphetamines on a regular basis is called amphetamine psychosis. Symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoia, and bizarre and violent behaviour. These symptoms will typically go away once the person stops using the drug. Research has suggested that there may also be negative effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman who ingest just one dose of methamphetamines. Women who think they may be pregnant should abstain from using all drugs and to talk to their health care professional if they have any concerns.
Some types of amphetamines (such as Ritalin© and Dexedrine©) have been found to help treat symptoms of certain conditions. They must be taken under the strict direction of a physician and should be constantly monitored for overdose and tolerance effects.
For more information, check out Health Canada’s site on Methamphetamines and the Canadian Centre On Substance Abuse’s site on Amphetamines.
Jeng. W., et al. (April 5, 2005). Methamphetamine-enhanced embryonic oxidative DNA damage and neurodevelopment deficits. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 39 (3), 317-326. Retrieved August 11, 2005, from Elsevier Inc, Article No. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2005.03.015
CAMH: Do you know… Amphetamines
CAMH: Do you know… Methamphetamines