Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine Uses, Effects, and Risks

Stimulant drugs like amphetamine and methamphetamine are commonly known for their use in treating certain medical conditions. Both are stimulants that can increase focus and alertness.

However, these drugs also come with significant risks and side effects. Understanding the differences between amphetamine and methamphetamine can help you make informed decisions about their use.

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What is an Amphetamine?

Amphetamines are a class of stimulant medications available by prescription (Schedule II) for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

Common brand names for amphetamines include Adderall and Ritalin. These medications come in controlled-release forms to deliver a steady dose throughout the day. However, they are also known for their potential for misuse and addiction.

Amphetamine can cause a variety of side effects, ranging from mild to severe. Common side effects of amphetamine include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches and dizziness

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What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and illegal stimulant. Like amphetamines, meth is also a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in the United States.

Methamphetamine is known by several street names, including “meth,” “crystal,” “crank,” and “ice.” It is commonly found in a crystalline form that can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested.

Meth is chemically similar to amphetamine but has a stronger effect on the brain. The illicit production and distribution of methamphetamine are significant problems in many parts of the world.

Common health risks and side effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Mental health issues
  • Severe dental problems or “meth mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Skin sores

Long-term use can result in significant brain damage, leading to cognitive deficits, emotional problems, and severe mental health disorders.

Methamphetamine and Amphetamine Mechanism of Action

The central nervous system (CNS) plays a vital role in regulating focus, alertness, and mood. Methamphetamine and amphetamines work similarly by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that influence these functions.

The primary mechanism involves stimulating the release of dopamine from nerve endings and inhibiting its reuptake. This leads to higher concentrations of dopamine in the synaptic cleft, which is responsible for the euphoric and stimulating effects.

The increased levels of neurotransmitters improve concentration and alertness and increased energy, which is beneficial for individuals with ADHD but also contributes to the addictive potential of these substances.

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Differences Between Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Chemical Structure

The chemical structures of amphetamine and methamphetamine are similar but have crucial differences. Amphetamine has a phenethylamine backbone with an additional methyl group attached to the alpha carbon. Methamphetamine, on the other hand, has an extra methyl group on the amine. This slight difference makes methamphetamine much more potent and addictive.

Potency and Effectiveness

Generally, amphetamines are less potent. They produce a noticeable stimulant effect, but it is milder compared to methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is more potent due to its enhanced ability to enter the brain quickly. This leads to more intense and longer-lasting effects, making it more effective at lower doses but also increasing its potential for abuse and addiction.

The effects of amphetamines typically last around 4-6 hours. On the other hand, methamphetamine’s effects can last much longer, often around 8-12 hours.

Legal Status and Medical Uses

Amphetamines are commonly prescribed for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Their effectiveness in improving focus, attention, and wakefulness is well-documented, making them valuable in therapeutic settings. Methamphetamine is an illegal street drug with various forms, including crystal meth, a dangerous and highly addictive smokable form.

Addiction and Abuse Potential

Amphetamines can lead to dependence and addiction, especially when used in higher doses than prescribed. The misuse of amphetamines orally, especially among young adults, is a growing concern. Users may experience mood swings, insomnia, and increased heart rate. Long-term effects may include heart problems and mental health issues.

Methamphetamine addiction is a significant public health issue. The drug’s powerful effects make it highly addictive. Users often develop a tolerance, needing more of the drug to achieve the same effects. Methamphetamine addiction can lead to severe physical and mental health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and extreme mood swings.

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Amphetamine vs. Methamphetamine: Which is More Dangerous?

Both amphetamine and methamphetamine are dangerous when misused, but methamphetamine is generally considered more dangerous for several reasons:

  • Higher potency and potential for addiction
  • Meth causes more damage to the brain which can result in long-term cognitive deficits
  • Side effects and health risks of meth are more severe
  • Meth use is more likely to result in violent behavior

Understanding the differences between amphetamine and methamphetamine is crucial. While both drugs can have legitimate medical uses, their potential for abuse and addiction cannot be overlooked.

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Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment

Methamphetamine addiction is a significant public health issue. The drug’s powerful effects make it highly addictive. If you or someone you love is struggling with meth addiction, seeking for help and support is important. Recognizing substance abuse is crucial for a timely intervention and managing these issues effectively.

Our addiction treatment rehabs located in Scottsdale, Arizona are equipped with quality facilities and professionally-trained therapists that are committed to provide each person with utmost care. Begin your addiction recovery journey today by reaching out to our team.

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