Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1893. In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized. In 1943, Abbott Laboratories requested FDA approval for the treatment of several medical conditions with the use of methamphetamines, including narcolepsy, mild depression, chronic alcoholism and hay fever, for which methamphetamine was approved in 1944. Eventually the majority of these approvals were subsequently removed. However, methamphetamines are currently FDA approved for the treatment of ADHD and obesity, and marketed under the US trademark Desoxyn®.
The earliest use of methamphetamines was during World War II, where millions of tablets were widely distributed across rank and division. By the 1960s, people were manufacturing methamphetamines in their homes for personal use. Recreational use of the drug continues to this day. Methamphetamine, alongside alcohol and marijuana, is currently one of the most frequently used drugs. Currently considered a major drug of abuse, several federal and local task force initiatives have been developed to target methamphetamine production and use.
Also known as “meth,” methamphetamine is a highly addictive psychostimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It works to induce euphoria, increase alertness, libido, self-esteem, concentration and energy.
Short-term physical side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, heart palpitations, tremors, acne, dialated pupils, flushing, hyperactivity, restlessness, dry mouth, headache, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, insomnia and numbness. Chronic use and/or high doses can result in convulsions, stroke, heart failure and death. Psychologically the user can experience anxiety, irritability, aggression, psychosomatic disorders, feelings of invincibility or power and paranoia. Chronic use and/or high doses can result in amphetamine psychosis.
The list of long-term side effects associated with methamphetamine use is both lengthy and extremely frightening. Methamphetamine use has been linked with addiction, depression, suicide, anorexia, serious heart disease, anxiety, violent behaviour and an association with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Methamphetamine users can and have suffered from permanent cognitive impairments related to memory and attention spans. Studies have shown that over 20% of users addicted to methamphetamine have developed a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia that is oftentimes untreatable.
Many scientific studies on the consequences of long-term methamphetamine exposure and its toxic effects on the brain have been conducted on animals, resulting in findings of extreme concern. Their studies have shown that long-term exposure to even relatively low levels of methamphetamine can result in damage to as much as 50% of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Researchers have concluded that the serotonin-producing nerve cells may receive even more extensive damage at this level of toxicity. It has been suggested that this long-term neurological damage and toxicity could be directly related to the psychosis seen in many long-term methamphetamine abusers.
With chronic methamphetamine use, tolerance and dependency can develop. In an effort to reach a desired “high,” users take the drug more frequently, take higher doses of the drug or try changing the way in which they take the drug. This kind of behavior can give way to binging, a possible overdose or death.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with abruptly stopping the use of methamphetamine can be extremely intense, depending on the level of consumption previous to stopping. The conclusion of a period of heavy use, or “binging,” can result in a severe withdrawal syndrome that can last up to two weeks. These symptoms consist of extreme fatigue, nightmares, suicidal ideation, depression, psychiatric instability, cognitive impairment, and an increase in appetite.
Methamphetamine Street Names
- Christmas Tree
- Black Beauties
- Bikers Coffee
- Methlies Quick
- Poor Man’s Cocaine
- Chicken Feed
- Crystal Meth
- Stove Top
- Yellow Bam