Are Amphetamine and Methamphetamine the Same Drug?

Are Amphetamine and Methamphetamine the Same Drug?

It’s common for most people to mix up amphetamine with methamphetamine, like saying, “Did you know that doctors prescribe meth to you in order to lose weight or treat ADHD?” when they’re instead referring to amphetamine. This misunderstanding is understandable because both drugs are similar in multiple ways, the most important of which is that both are psychostimulant drugs or, simply, psychostimulants. This means that they increase people’s ability to stay awake as well as their ability to concentrate or focus on a certain thing or task.

Both of these drugs raise your brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine for good measure. When these brain chemicals rise, the person who has taken either drug will feel an increase in vigor or energy as well as a sense of euphoria. Nonetheless, amphetamine and methamphetamine have differences as well. Read on to find out what differentiates one from the other.

Are They The Same Drug or Not?

Here’s the deal: Methamphetamine and amphetamine are largely differentiated by meth being part of the N-methyl group. To be more specific, meth belongs to that group that decreases the polarity of its molecule, which enables it to penetrate the blood brain barrier more efficiently than its “legal” or “prescription” drug counterpart. Additionally, meth produces greater central nervous system activity in terms of stimulation while still having a much lower cardiovascular and peripheral nervous system activity compared to amphetamine.

  • Related But Not the Same: Long story short, although methamphetamines and amphetamines are related, they’re not the same drug. Even though amphetamines and methamphetamines produce similar effects and are relatively relatives as far as stimulant drugs are concerned, they have several differences between them. It’s the same way a sibling, even an identical twin, will tend to have differences with his or her sibling despite having identical features.

  • Indirect versus Direct Stimulation: Also, amphetamine stimulates the central nervous system in an indirect manner by activating catecholamine release while inhibiting their storage and breakdown. Meanwhile, meth directly stimulates the postsynaptic catecholamine receptors. With that said, they have similar names because both drugs incorporate the same base chemical. As a rule of thumb, meth is more potent and direct than amphetamine, which might also be reason why the latter is legal and the former is illicit.

  • Lasts Longer and Stronger: Meth has a longer lasting effect than amphetamines. In fact, it might even produce more toxic effects altogether depending on where you bought it and what type of meth it is. On one hand, crystal meth is as pure as meth can possibly be, so any toxicity concerns should be put to rest even though meth in itself is a highly addictive stimulant. Speed, on the other hand, is made in the streets and backyards using makeshift meth labs, so its purity and toxicity will tend to vary from dealer or dealer or batch to batch.

  • Addiction Treatment: Treatment for meth or amphetamine addiction can include detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, dialectal behavioral therapy or DBT, group therapy, family therapy, individualized therapy, dual diagnosis, counseling, 12-step programs, holistic healing, and much more. Also, about 5 percent of people in the United States of America had used or were still using meth in 2000 according to a study done in the same year. This number might even be greater when push came to shove.

A Brief History

Before you can truly disambiguate between meth and amphetamine, you need to learn the history of both of the drugs and how they’re intertwined with each other somehow. Amphetamines came about in the 1800s or the 19th Century. They however weren’t used the way they are today until the 1920s. Doctors around this time period discovered how beneficial amphetamines could be. They learned that this stimulant is capable of treating colds, allergies, and asthma because of their ability to widen the airways of the patient. They were first used as vasodilators.

  • Stimulants for Housewives and Businessmen: They were also popularly used as stimulants in light of its coffee-like ability to keep people alert and awake. This is why during the war these amphetamines were actually handed off to soldiers. This medication was legal and available around this time, with it being purchased by people from all walks of life such as businessmen and housewives. This was all due to its effects of suppressing the appetite and increasing vigor. Women largely used it to lose weight and men used it to work long hours into the night as per the gender roles of the day.

  • Amphetamine Restrictions: Then, in the 1970s, the government enforced restrictions on amphetamines. Only certain medications were allowed to have it as an ingredient. Since then, prescription drugs such as Adderall are the ones that can contain amphetamines. What’s more, they can only be given to ADHD sufferers and not so much obesity sufferers in light of the addictiveness of the substance. As for meth, it was actually derived from the amphetamine family. While amphetamines gained prominence in the 1920s, methamphetamines were developed in the 1950s.

  • Meth as a Prescription Drug: Meth used to be a legal prescription drug that’s prescribed to those suffering from obesity, Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism, and depression. The public caught on to the impact of meth rather quickly and as such used it to lose weight and/or stay alert, as though it’s a super type of coffee that can also make you lose weight. Soon, more and more people started to abuse meth, particularly those who work in the trucker industry or are parts of biker gangs, hence it being called biker’s coffee.

  • Meth Awareness: The negative publicity that meth received was mostly due to addictions and heavy abuse caused by the drug as it spread across the U.S. and abroad. Meanwhile, amphetamine has a better reputation and has been around for quite a while. It’s a prescription drug prescribed by doctors for obesity and it can also be found in many medications. Even though both amphetamines and meth are addictive, meth is more popular and infamous among the two. It’s part media hype and part real. The unfortunate thing about the media hype is that people aware of it might underestimate the meth epidemic.

What Are Amphetamines?

Pills, a selection of pharmaceutical drugs, Legal drugs, packaging, capsules. Bottle of pills Moody Lighting.

Amphetamines are legal stimulant drugs that affect your central nervous system in psychoactive ways. Doctors prescribe it specifically for the treatment of narcolepsy, obesity, as well as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The methods of taking the drug include ingesting a pill, crushing the pill and snorting the powder, combining it with water then injecting it into your system, or smoking it in order to inhale its vapors.

In other words, you can consume amphetamines through the following methods:

  • Oral

  • Intranasal

  • Inhalation

  • Intravenous

You can also avail of these amphetamines through brands such as the following:

  • Ritalin

  • Focalin

  • Zenzedi

  • Adderall

  • Vyvanse

  • Strattera

  • Desoxyn

  • Concerta

  • Ritalin-SR

  • ProCentra

  • Dexedrine

  • Dextrostat

  • Adderall XR

  • Dexedrine Spansule

The side effects of taking amphetamines include the following:

  • Nausea

  • Hostility

  • Tremors

  • Paranoia

  • Euphoria

  • Headache

  • Dry mouth

  • Pupil dilation

  • Muscle spasms

  • Lack of appetite

  • Heavy breathing

  • Heart palpitations

  • Talkativeness or alertness

  • Change in sexual behavior

  • Increased body temperature

  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate

Prolonged exposure and abuse to amphetamines can result in the following:

  • Coma

  • Death

  • Convulsions

  • Behavioral changes

  • Psychological issues

What Are Methamphetamines?

Teenage Girl Buying Drugs On The Street From Dealer

This stimulant within the amphetamine class is also known as meth, crystal meth, glass or ice, speed, chalk, crack (not to be confused with crack cocaine), or even biker’s coffee. There are actually limited prescription uses for meth, and it includes treatment of diseases also dealt with by amphetamine such as ADHD and narcolepsy. This drug can be taken the same ways amphetamine can, such as pill ingestion, snorting crushed pills, injecting a meth solution with water, and smoking its vapors. Speaking of which, the crystal meth version of meth is specifically taken by smoking the crystals.

A meth high is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea

  • Seizures

  • Euphoria

  • Psychosis

  • Depression

  • Dilation of pupils

  • Dramatic weight loss

  • Severe dental problems

  • Disturbed sleep patterns

  • Aggressive and violent behavior

The side effects of meth include the following:

  • Insomnia

  • Weight loss

  • Depression

  • Memory loss

  • Severe itching

  • Faster breathing

  • Reduced appetite

  • Increased distractibility

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

  • Meth bugs or phantom itches

  • Aggressive or violent behavior

  • Deficits in thinking and motor skills

  • Changes in brain structure and function

  • Wakefulness and increased physical activity

  • Changes in behavior, mood, and thought processes

  • Increased body temperature to the point of fainting

  • Psychosis, including hallucinations and extreme paranoia

  • Meth mouth wherein the addict has terrible mouth and dental problems such as cracked teeth

Meth, when compared to amphetamines, is much more potent, such that it’s easy to reach an overdose. As a consequence, this could mean that the addict could end up with the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Death

  • Stroke

  • Anxiety

  • Heart attack

  • Hallucinations

  • Violent behavior

  • Sleeping problems

  • Permanent organ damage


What Are The Differences Between Meth and Amphetamines?

Despite their similar names, amphetamines and methamphetamines are different drugs technically. Amphetamines cover an entire drug class while meth is a specific amphetamine type. With that in mind, meth is a particular potent type of amphetamine compared to other amphetamines like Adderall. So semantically speaking, meth is an amphetamine but not all amphetamines are meth. Nevertheless, in light of amphetamines being so closely related to methamphetamines, this should give you pause in regards to overusing, abusing, or overdosing on them.

  • Not The Same Drug: Amphetamines and methamphetamines share a classification and you can even say that meth is a type of amphetamine, but they don’t refer to the same drug. The bodies and minds of people who use them tend to react differently to each drug. The parent drug of amphetamine is used to manufacture meth, in fact. Over the last decade or so, meth has gotten a huge amount of publicity throughout the world in terms of its dangerous addictiveness. They’re related but in the context of their chemical makeup and how one is more potent than the other, other amphetamines and the specific amphetamine known as meth are totally different.

  • Epidemic Proportions: The headlines about meth addiction spreading like an epidemic are partly because media hype that showcases an underlying problem that shouldn’t be underestimated. On the other hand, it’s also partly true. While it’s not necessarily “Reefer Madness” type of hysteria where kids are scared “straight” from using marijuana through misinformation, the info about meth has spread due in part of the devastating effects of meth addiction, with many people having their appearance and personalities change by the destructive drug. This has given this fearful substance an aura of danger and infamy, like when you compare the before and after pictures of a meth addict.

  • Both Are Stimulants: Both meth and amphetamine drugs like Adderall are stimulants. Therefore, they can create severe addictions with long-term consequences as well, hence the comparisons between the two and claims that Adderall addiction is basically meth addiction. They’re not similar in many other ways regardless. They’re not the same drug, meth is illegal, amphetamines are less likely to be abused because they’re prescribed and as long as you follow dose recommendations, you’re good to go. Meth is known as biker’s coffee for a reason, and amphetamines are practically prescription meth in a certain point of view.

  • Another Addiction Type: Not all people follow dosage and prescription instructions though. Some get addicted to amphetamine, the meth-like substance related to meth, because of what’s known as the prescription drug addiction epidemic. Certain people from North America and Australia use their prescriptions in order to get drugs like OxyContin, which is an opiate medication that’s as addictively devastating as heroin, and then use them for recreational applications other than disease treatment. It’s the same deal with amphetamines and its illegal counterpart meth. In many ways, because amphetamines are legal and more accessible, they can be just as dangerous or even more so than street meth.

  • Adderall Is Comparable to Crystal Meth? ADHD amphetamine drug Adderall is comparable to crystal meth. This is according to Dr. Carl Hart, who is a Columbia University associate professor of psychiatry and psychology. He specializes in substance addiction and abuse. He’s also the one who made the comparison between meth and amphetamine in terms of abuse and addictiveness. Chemically they’re not the same thing but in terms of consequences, they’re related enough to close enough to be the same thing. In the context of addiction and self-destruction, Adderall is potentially as dangerous and dependence-inducing as meth, despite meth being more potent.

  • Drug Abuse Treatment: When treating drug abuse of the amphetamine or methamphetamine variety, the choices are many but almost every time the first step towards recovery requires detoxification. This is a natural process where your body expels toxins from drugs like meth or amphetamine. It’s crucial for recovering from addiction and putting you on the road to sobriety. Detox should be completed with the assistance of healthcare professionals who are internationally trained in the rehab service industry. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be quite dangerous or even fatal.

Both Are Addictive and Can Be Deadly

Both methamphetamine and amphetamine can cause addiction. They can even cause death altogether when used improperly. However, the major difference between the two is that methamphetamine and amphetamine don’t have the same length of time when it comes to effects. Meth lasts longer and has a stronger impact on your body and mind. Its onset is also much quicker, meaning when you take it the effects take effect almost immediately when compared to amphetamine drugs like Adderall.

The side effects shared by these two drugs include the following:

  • Insomnia

  • Shakiness

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Rapid heartbeat

According to experts, you can get addicted to meth after than with amphetamine even though in general they’re both extremely addictive. When you’ve become an addict for either drug type, you’ll experience various unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, thus necessitating detoxification and rehabilitation in a drug addiction treatment center like Lanna Rehab.

The Chemical Difference

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are chemically different, making the former more potent than the latter. If you have a chemistry degree, you should be able to spot the difference immediately. The easiest way to explain this involves the following. Long story short, even though both medications are stimulants of the nervous system, one is illegal while the other is legal because meth is referred to chemically as N-methylamphetamine while amphetamine is known as phenylethylamine instead.

In other words, the processing of these drugs are quite different from one another, thus meth comes out differently, produces stronger effects that take hold of your central immune system faster, and by all accounts is more addictive all-in-all. Furthermore, they’re each processed differently in light of their divergent chemical makeup. Meth breaks down into amphetamine when it’s metabolized. In other words, this amphetamine derivative can only become amphetamine after metabolization. It’s even excreted as amphetamine to boot. This explains why you’re seemingly double-dosing yourself with amphetamine when you take meth.

Legality and Different Groups of Addicts

illegal pharmaceutical pills and drugs money on mirror addiction objects

You should also take into account a legal difference. Meth was made illegal in light of its more harmful effects while its parent drug, amphetamine, has been limited to ADHD treatment via prescription brand name drugs like Adderall. Amphetamine is an ingredient for quite a number of medications out there. Methamphetamine is considered too dangerous for prescription and thusly is limited to severe cases. Throughout the whole world, meth is considered illegal. It’s also been made available as an impure street drug named speed that’s mainly developed in makeshift meth labs by people who want to make a quick buck.

Essentially, meth acts stronger, quicker, and more addictive than its amphetamine counterparts even though both of them are categorized into one. Each even has its own respective groups of addicts in light of the difference in addiction severity. There are those who might get addicted to one or the other, while others might transition from what’s initially an amphetamine addiction to a meth addiction in light of their similarities. You can go from bad to worse or out of the frying pan and into the fire, in other words. However, meth addicts are known to likelier lose their jobs, become homeless vagrants, or turn to crime to feed their habit.

Lanna Rehab Will Get You Over Your Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Addiction

Lanna Rehab will assist you in getting over your amphetamine and methamphetamine addiction or dependence so that you’d stop suffering from their shared side effects or abusing them in order to chase the high or benefits they’re supposed to give out to you. You should watch out for desensitization when abusing either meth or amphetamine, because this will result in you using them more to reach your former highs, which then develops to addiction and/or overdose.

Regardless, you can depend on Lanna and its detox, psychotherapy, and 12-step program in order to turn your life around. Start your journey towards sobriety by calling their 24/7 hotline for more details about booking and reservations for their resort-like rehab center.

Martin Peters

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.

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