The difference between methamphetamine and amphetamine
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04-09-15 Category: Drug Rehab


Most of society knows that the use and abuse of methamphetamines or amphetamines is a dangerous and destructive thing to do. Methamphetamine is a drug that, for example, a person can take a hit of and three days later find themselves in Mexico with a stolen car having not slept the entire time. (A slight exaggeration, but it makes the point). What some people may not know is that methamphetamines and amphetamines, while they sound the same, actually are very different substances.

Both methamphetamines and amphetamines are stimulants and both can be dangerous, but they have several important differences. Some variations are demonstrated by the effect the drug has on the user and some simply in the chemical makeup of the drug and how the body breaks it down. Differences include the following:


  • Can have different uses such as being used in diet pills
  • Can be safe for oral use when used exactly as prescribed by a doctor
  • Has a strong effect
  • Can increase metabolism and/or cause a rapid heart beat
  • Has the potential for physical and/or psychological addiction if abused against the advisement of a doctor’s prescription
  • Stimulates the central nervous system directly by activating the release of catecholamine and inhibiting the breakdown and storage
  • Scientifically known as methylated phenylethylamine

  • Primarily used as a recreational drug and is never safe for oral use
  • Is longer lasting than amphetamines and affects the user much faster
  • Effects include impaired speech, dry mouth, shallow breathing, constipation, dizziness and insomnia along with increased metabolism and/or rapid heart rate
  • Will always cause addiction
  • Breaks down into amphetamine
  • Has greater activity as a central nervous system stimulant, but less as a peripheral nervous system or cardiovascular stimulant
  • Stimulates the postsynaptic receptors directly
  • Scientifically identified as double methylated phenylethylamine

Amphetamines have the ability to provide a user with some benefits when used exactly as directed for purposes such as weight loss or treating ADHD. Methamphetamine, however, has absolutely no benefits and is simply destructive. However, when abused, both amphetamines and methamphetamines will have negative effects on the user. These can and normally will include:

  • Changes in mood such as depression
  • Restlessness and/or insomnia
  • Irritability and in some cases aggression
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Substance-induced psychosis
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Impaired judgment
  • Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Skin problems such as sores (caused by scratching and/or picking) or cysts; tooth decay or loss; hair loss
  • Coma or death

Ultimately, amphetamine or methamphetamine abuse will lead to addiction and many negative side effects to a user’s mental and physical health. The before-and-after results can be terrifying and a true wake-up call to anyone who is in the midst of addiction. This starts with detox, the process of getting the last of the substance out of the user’s body and continues with treatment and aftercare in which the user acquires skills to cope with cravings and stressors to help him or her stay clean and clear of drugs in order to lead a happier and healthier life.

If you or your loved one is struggling with amphetamine or methamphetamine addiction, it is recommended that you seek help immediately. To learn more about treatment for methamphetamine you can visit or call (866) 819-0427 for more information.

Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer

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