Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine - The Discovery House

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine

With surging meth overdose statistics many people are wanting to learn more about this drug. However, when you investigate the drug, you may learn about two different compounds, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

It can be hard to distinguish one from the other, as they are both considered stimulants and Schedule 2 drugs. Despite this, there are serious differences between the two and what they are used for, as well as the long-term consequences of abuse. To understand we must look at what each compound is, and how they are different.

What are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are composed of prescription stimulants They are the weakest of all stimulants, and are sometimes prescribed to treat conditions like ADHD, narcolepsy, and weight loss. They are typically found in a tablet or capsule form and taken orally. If someone were to abuse these medications they might snort, smoke, or inject them. All legal amphetamines are prescriptions, but not all prescription stimulants are amphetamines. Common types of amphetamines include:

Amphetamine Abuse

Amphetamines are very commonly abused by people who take them in order to enhance their focus. This often means they are used to staying awake for longer or boosting cognitive functioning. This is common in college students or working people. Sometimes this also provides a small high from the excess dopamine released.

When someone abuses amphetamines, they may feel the effects for up to six hours. These people may then also have long-lasting physiological effects, such as a racing heart, tremors, blurry vision, or impaired motor function. In some cases, this can last up to 12 hours.

Addictive Potential of Amphetamines

The addiction potential of medicinal amphetamines is usually higher in those who use it for non-prescribed reasons. Even if you are prescribed amphetamines, you still have the chance to become addicted if you take more than the prescribed dose. Usually, those who have a medical need do not become addicted as long as they follow the dosage instructions.

However, illegally manufactured amphetamines typically pose a higher risk to both medical and non-medical users. This is usually because they are usually cut with something more harmful.

History and Origin of Stimulant Drugs

The history of stimulants dates back to the first of the synthetic stimulants, amphetamine. It was isolated in 1887 and then popularized in the 1930s with an over-the-counter nasal decongestant (Benzedrine inhaler). This contained amphetamine phenylisopropylamine. Eventually, discoveries of clinical applications for fatigue, narcolepsy, and depression were found.

When it comes to the most widely abused stimulant drug, it is actually cocaine. In 2019 alone, there were 5.5 million users of cocaine in the United States. Prescription stimulant use was the second-largest user group, at 4.9 million users, and then 2.9 million users of meth in 2019.

It is true that meth users make the smallest portion, but it is also the most serious abuse drug. Because meth has increased in the last 10 years, it shows that there is an increase in the number of users of this drug.

What are Methamphetamines?

Methamphetamine is a form of amphetamine. They have similar molecular structures, as well as similar mechanisms of how they work. Because of this they have similar effects of euphoria and added energy. Meth not only increases the levels of dopamine in the brain but also blocks its reuptake. This eventually leads to too much dopamine in the brain. The reason for this is that it is much more powerful than prescription stimulants. Methamphetamines are also always used with the intention to get high.

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine

Different Forms of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has many different names and can be ingested in many different ways, such as smoking, snorting, swallowing, or injecting. The method of using meth will determine how it looks and what form it is in.

Usually, meth is found in a white or off-white powder. This is typically called “crank”. It is usually snorted but is also the least potent version of the drug, around 10%. Another form is called “base”. This is an oily yellowish or brownish paste-like substance. Usually, it is a higher potency of 20%. This is usually injected or swallowed.

However, crystal meth (also known as “ice”) is a different form of meth. It looks like crystals and is much purer. It is also stronger, and usually around 80%. This is much more addictive and dangerous, usually being smoked or injected.

Meth vs. Other Types of Stimulants

Methamphetamine is a stimulant and increases levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to other stimulants. However, it differs from other stimulants like cocaine because of a few reasons.

  • Meth increases dopamine production at a drastically greater rate
  • Cocaine is a very quickly metabolized drug and wears off faster
  • Meth will remain active in the human body for much longer
  • It can take 12 hours or longer for 50% of a dose of meth to be metabolized
  • Cocaine’s half-life is only about 1 hour

Differences Between Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

There are chemical composition similarities between amphetamine and methamphetamine. First off, amphetamine and methamphetamine are two types of drugs. They both have amphetamine in the name of both substances because meth is a type of amphetamine. However, it is classified separately legally. It has been separate since 2015. The main similarities are the drug classification, as well as the fact that they are both dangerous.

The differences involved are that meth is not often used for medical purposes. It is also more often illegally manufactured, distributed, and consumed. This is because it is much more potent than amphetamines and it has more effects that are more harmful and longer-lasting than amphetamines.

Which is More Deadly?

When it comes to amphetamines vs methamphetamines on an addiction level, they both have risks. Using these drugs results in unnatural levels of dopamine. This puts the user at risk for becoming addicted and dependent on the drugs due to developing a tolerance. Because crystal meth is so addictive, it is also more dangerous as compared to prescription amphetamines.  Some consequences of use include:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Health problems
  • Severe dental damage

Medical vs Recreational Stimulant Use

Stimulants are one of seven types of the seven drug categories. There are illegal and legal drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, and ADHD medication Adderall. All of these drugs are stimulants, but not all are legal.

Stimulant drugs stimulate the body and increase the action of the central nervous system, as well as how fast these signals are sent and received. This eventually translates to increased respiratory and cardiovascular function. It can also lead to extremely high levels of dopamine being released into the body. Becoming addicted to prescription stimulants is very easy, side-effects of stimulant use include:

  • Heightened energy levels
  • Euphoria
  • Increased sociability/self-esteem
  • Improved attention span
  • Increased sexual desire/performance
  • Appetite suppression

In retrospect, these symptoms sound good, but they put a lot of strain on the body. Additionally, even using stimulants one time can cause adverse effects which cause short and long-term health issues. Psychological side effects are very common, as well as the development of serious mental illness, and even sudden death.

Outpatient vs Inpatient Stimulant Treatment

Signs of Stimulant Dependence and Addiction

There are usually different types of symptoms of stimulant dependence and addiction. These include behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms.

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Deceptive behavior, lying or stealing
  • Meeting with multiple doctors in an attempt to gain multiple prescriptions for stimulants
  • Visiting websites to order stimulants without a prescription
  • Exhibiting excessive energy or motivation
  • Aggressive or angry outbursts
  • Risky or impulsive behaviors

Physical Symptoms

  • Twitches or jitteriness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Sweating
  • Skin problems

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Hyperfocus
  • Flight of ideas
  • Enhanced sensory awareness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Poor judgment

Psychosocial Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Anger/aggressiveness
  • Increased confidence

Outpatient vs Inpatient Stimulant Treatment

There is a big difference between outpatient and inpatient treatment. For example, inpatient treatment requires you to move to the treatment program for anywhere from 28 to 90 days. You will need to abandon your life, your job, and your family for that period of time.

You may not even have a phone while in treatment. This is considered the most successful type of treatment because it separates you from your triggers. Outpatient programs allow you to go to the treatment facility when it works best for you. It allows you to continue your home life or job while visiting the center a few days per week.

Recovery Programs for Amphetamines vs Meth

You might wonder, how can I get help for stimulant abuse? If you are in one of the at Risk populations for stimulant misuse, you may even have a problem. However, achieving long term stimulant recovery is possible.

Our stimulant addiction treatment program can help you overcome your addiction, as long as you are willing to put in the work. At The Discovery House, we help those with addiction from cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and any other stimulants. Contact us today to learn more about our matrix model for addiction treatment.