Methamphetamine and amphetamine

It is common for people to mix up methamphetamine and amphetamine. This is understandable, since both are similar in many ways. However, there are many differences between methamphetamine and amphetamine; read below to learn what they are.

Although they have a lot in common, amphetamines and methamphetamines are not the same drug. Each one acts differently on the body and the mind. Meth is manufactured by using its parent drug, amphetamine. Over the last decade, methamphetamine has received a large amount of publicity throughout the world. Most of the publicity was about the heavy abuse and addictions caused by the drug. Amphetamine has been around for a long time and has been prescribed by doctors and can be found in various medications. While both are addicting, methamphetamine has become more popular amongst abusers.

A Brief History

Before understanding the difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine, one should understand the history of both drugs.

Amphetamines were developed in the late nineteenth century, but were not used until the 1920’s. It was around that time, medical professionals discovered the benefits of amphetamines. They learned that the drug widened airways, and therefore could treat asthma, allergies, and colds. It was also discovered that amphetamines helped people stay awake and alert and was given to soldiers during the war. The drug was available legally and was being purchased by housewives and other people who sought the effects of the increased energy and suppressing of the appetite that amphetamine provided. In the 1970’s restrictions on the drug were enforced; it was only allowed in certain medicines. Today, a prescription containing amphetamines may be given to people with narcolepsy and ADHD.

Methamphetamine is a derivative of amphetamine. It was developed in the 1950’s and was prescribed to people with depression, alcoholism, Parkinson’s, and obesity. The public caught onto methamphetamine rather quickly and began to use it to stay alert and/or lose weight. Eventually it began to be heavily used by people, especially those working in the trucking industry. In 2000, a study was done and approximately 5% of people in the USA had used methamphetamines or were still using; this number is thought to be much greater.

The Effects of Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Both drugs are psycho stimulants, meaning they increase a person’s ability to stay awake and even increase focus. Both raise the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. When these chemicals are increased, a person will feel a sense of euphoria and an increase in energy.

Both are Addictive and Can Be Deadly

Both amphetamine and methamphetamine can cause an addiction, and when used improperly, can cause death. The side effects of using either one of the drugs are similar and include dry mouth, dizziness, shakiness, insomnia, and rapid heartbeat. The one major difference between the effects amphetamine and methamphetamine is that the effects of meth are much stronger and the onset is much quicker. Experts also believe that a person can become addicted to meth faster than becoming addicted to amphetamine. When a person has an addiction to either drug, they will experience unpleasant withdrawal when quitting.

The Chemical Difference

The main difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine involves a bit of chemistry. The easiest way to explain this is as follows. Both drugs are stimulants of the central nervous system. However, amphetamine is chemically phenylethylamine, while methamphetamine is referred to as N-methylamphetamine.

These drugs are processed differently in the user’s body due to the chemical makeup is different. Methamphetamine breaks down into amphetamine when it is metabolised. This means that the meth turns into amphetamine in the user’s body and is excreted as amphetamine.

One Can Be Prescribed

Another difference between the two drugs is that amphetamine can be prescribed in medication, but methamphetamine is considered to be too dangerous to be prescribed for use; methamphetamine is illegal throughout the world. This is because the effects of meth are much stronger, act quicker, and can be considered more addicting.

Different Groups of Addicts

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are often categorised together, but each one has its own group of addicts. Some people will be addicted to one and not the other, while others will transition from using amphetamine to methamphetamine. Addicts of methamphetamine are also more likely to lose their jobs, become homeless, and turn to crime.

Are Drugs Taking Over You Life?

We Can Help You Overcome Your Addiction

It is safe to say that there are millions of people with an addiction to both these drugs and need to get treatment. Beating an addiction takes effort, strength, and support, but it can be done.

If you or someone you know has an addiction to amphetamine or methamphetamine, please contact The Cabin Chiang Mai today.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

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