Amphetamine was first made in 1887 in Germany and Methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was developed in Japan in 1919. The crystalline powder was soluble in water, making it a perfect candidate for injection. Methamphetamine went into wide use during World War II, when both sides used it to keep troops awake.
Methamphetamine is usually a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine (a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy).
People can take methamphetamine by inhaling/smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the drug.
Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is involved in body movement, motivation, pleasure, and reward.
Short-term health effects include increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.
Long-term health effects include risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis; severe dental problems ("meth mouth"); intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching; violent behavior; and paranoia.
Researchers don't yet know whether people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or have other health effects.
A person can overdose on methamphetamine. Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings.
The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies. There are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction.