What is the difference between amphetamines and methamphetamine?

What is the difference between amphetamines and methamphetamine? Methamphetamine is a subclass of amphetamine that is more addictive than all the other kinds. But from an addict’s point of view, the similarity may be at least as significant as the difference. Both drugs stimulate the nervous system and create an energetic “high.” Both are potentially addictive. Both can take a heavy physical toll, and can even kill you. The psychological damage from both can be immense as well.

Doctors prescribe amphetamines much more often than methamphetamine, so they don’t carry quite the same stigma as meth. But don’t let that fool you. Meth is more addictive, but amphetamines are also addictive and amphetamine abuse is very dangerous too. While other amphetamines are slightly less addictive than meth, you can absolutely get addicted to prescription drugs like Adderall, Dexedrine, or Desoxyn. This is troubling since the majority of people using Adderall do not have a prescription!

blue gloved hands holding pill bottles

Amphetamines are used to treat several problems.

Origin of Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Ephedra is a plant that produces a substance called ephedrine. People have recognized the plant for its medicinal values for centuries if not millennia. In the late 1800s, scientists began to extract and isolate ephedrine and modify it to create pharmaceuticals. Ephedra-based medicines are used to treat allergies like hay fever. In 1887, German scientists created amphetamine was created from ephedra by replacing hydrogen atoms with other molecules.

The resulting chemical affects conscious, narrowing focus and increasing energy. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine act on receptors in the brain for norepinephrine and dopamine. Both drugs are stimulants. They cause your heart rate and blood pressure and to increase. They will also increase your metabolism and raise your body temperature. Typically these effects are accompanied by feelings of energy, euphoria, and a (usually false) sense of focus and purpose.

Medical Use of Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Various amphetamines provide medically approved treatment for allergies, obesity, and narcolepsy. Governments have also used amphetamines during wars to keep soldiers awake and as a (rather ineffective) treatment for depression. US President JFK had an amphetamine prescription to give him extra energy to dispatch his presidential duties. Currently, authorities have approved drugs containing amphetamines to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Scientists developed methamphetamine a little later in 1919. The chemical difference between meth and regular amphetamine causes meth to enter your brain much more suddenly, magnifying the effects and creating the sensation of a “rush”. Researchers recognized the addictive properties of the new ephedra derivative very quickly, but pharmaceutical companies still use it in some ADHD, obesity, and narcolepsy medications.

There are medical uses for both amphetamines in general and methamphetamine specifically, and they can be used “more or less” safely under a doctors supervision, but neither amphetamines in general nor meth specifically should never be used without medical approval and supervision. Never take drugs that are not prescribed for you, and if you feel you are prone to addiction, always consult with your doctor about the risks.

Addiction is not fun. You remember this every time you come down.

Consequences of Methamphetamine and Amphetamine Addiction

The potential ill effects of all drugs in this broad class are similar. And they are not fun. Irrational hostility, paranoia, headache, nausea, heart palpitations and possible heart attack, tremors, and muscle spasms, permanent brain damage, and the big one – death – just to name a few. Losing your job, spending all your money on drugs, and finding yourself robbing your friends and family are also common consequences of addiction.

If you or someone you know is abusing meth or other amphetamines, then the addict in question is still alive, for now. But speed kills. Many will survive, but none will walk away from stimulant addiction unscathed, and it just gets worse. So don’t wait. You know this is not what you want. Take action!

If you are concerned about someone but unsure, here are some tips for spotting Ice addiction.

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Walk away from the madness and find your way to a new better life.

Learn More About Our Addiction Recovery Program

Seasons Bali offers support for people struggling with amphetamine and methamphetamine addiction. You are here reading this, so it is probably time for you or someone you care about to take the first step towards a much better life. It takes work but you can leave the unfulfilling cycle and the suffering behind.

If someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction, talk to someone who understands. We are here to help. Call one of our experts today at (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 +61 398045757 or email us at and we will call you.


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