If you’ve ever wondered about the differences between amphetamine vs methamphetamine, you’re not alone. These two substances are often the subject of confusion and misconception. Whether you’re a curious individual or someone seeking to understand these drugs better for personal or professional reasons, we’ve got you covered.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants are a class of drugs that affect the central nervous system, leading to increased alertness, attention, and energy. They’re known to boost mood, elevate alertness, and even enhance cognitive performance. Stimulants can come in various forms, from prescription medications to illicit substances.
As the name implies, stimulants “stimulate” the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for controlling mood, attention, and energy levels. When stimulants are ingested, they increase the levels of these neurotransmitters, resulting in heightened alertness, improved focus, and a sense of increased energy.
Common stimulants include:
Stimulants are widely used, both legally and illegally.
- In a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 6.6% (annual average) of U.S. adults used prescription stimulants overall, with 4.5% using them without misuse
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 16.9 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using prescription stimulants non-medically in 2019.
Get the help you need to begin your journey to recovery.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are used for a variety of medical purposes, including the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, they also have a significant potential for abuse and can be found in illicit forms.
Amphetamines are a group of synthetic compounds that speed up the body’s central nervous system. They have a long history, dating back to the early 20th century when they were first created. They gained popularity in the 1930s for their effects, including increased alertness and energy. During World War II, amphetamines were used by soldiers to combat fatigue and boost their performance, further popularizing the drugs.
If you suffer from the inability to concentrate, stay focused, pay attention, or have trouble staying awake, and you’re taking medication for this condition, you’re most likely familiar with amphetamine salts (stimulants).
List of Amphetamines
Common brand names for prescription amphetamines include:
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, often simply referred to as meth, is a powerful and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. Methamphetamine was developed early in the 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. It is chemically similar to amphetamine but has very different effects and a higher potential for abuse.
Meth comes in the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
When methamphetamine is abused, it can have severe physical and mental health consequences. Some of the immediate and long-term methamphetamine side effects include:
- Euphoria: intense feelings of pleasure and happiness
- Increased energy: a surge of energy and alertness
- Reduced appetite: lack of hunger for extended periods
- Insomnia: difficulty sleeping
- Paranoia and agitation: heightened anxiety
- Cognitive impairment: long-term use can damage memory and problem-solving
- Physical health issues: heart problems, dental issues (often referred to as “meth mouth”), skin problems, and severe weight loss.
Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine
When it comes to amphetamine vs methamphetamine, it’s all about chemistry, legal status, and usage statistics. Both drugs have a high potential for addiction, but methamphetamine is generally considered more addictive due to its stronger effects and rapid onset. Prolonged and heavy use of amphetamines and methamphetamine can lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms when not using them.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine share a common core structure but differ in their chemical compositions. Both substances stimulate the central nervous system, but methamphetamine is more potent due to an extra methyl group attached to its structure. This small structural difference results in significantly different effects on the body and mind.
The legal status of amphetamines and methamphetamines varies depending on their intended use.
- Amphetamines: Some amphetamines, like Adderall, are legally available by prescription for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. However, their recreational use is illegal, and they are classified as controlled substances. Like most medical prescriptions, heavy use of amphetamines can have negative effects on the body.
- Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is illegal for recreational use in most countries, including the United States, where it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Production, possession, and distribution of methamphetamine outside of medical use are illegal and subject to severe penalties.
While amphetamines and methamphetamines are both widely used, their patterns of use differ.
Amphetamines are commonly prescribed for medical use, primarily to manage ADHD and narcolepsy. However, illicit use is not uncommon, and prescription amphetamines have a significant potential for misuse.
Methamphetamine is primarily encountered as an illicit drug, with a high potential for abuse. It is often produced in man-made laboratories and sold on the black market.
Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, an estimated 0.5% (or about 1.5 million people) had a prescription amphetamine use disorder in the past 12 months. In 2020, approximately 1.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using methamphetamine in the past year. Methamphetamine use is a global issue, with an estimated 27 million users worldwide.
What Are the Signs of Stimulant Addiction?
Identifying the signs of stimulant addiction is crucial for early intervention and support. While the specific signs can vary from person to person, here are some common indicators:
- Increased Tolerance: The need for higher doses to achieve the same effects.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms when not using the substance.
- Neglecting Responsibilities: Prioritizing drug use over work, school, or other important obligations.
- Neglecting Personal Hygiene: Decline in personal grooming and cleanliness.
- Changes in Social Circles: Spending time with new, drug-involved friends and distancing from non-using friends and family.
- Lack of Control: Repeatedly attempting to cut down or quit but being unsuccessful.
- Engaging in Risky Behaviors: Taking risks under the influence, such as driving while high or engaging in unprotected sex.
- Legal Issues: Getting into trouble with the law due to drug-related activities.
- Physical and Mental Health Decline: Exhibiting physical symptoms like weight loss, dental issues, and skin problems, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and paranoia.
Stimulant Addiction Treatment at Aliya Health Group
If you or a loved one is struggling with stimulant addiction, it’s essential to seek professional help. Aliya Health Group offers a range of treatment options to support individuals in their journey toward recovery. Our commitment to providing quality care extends from detoxification to aftercare. Levels of care we offer include:
Residential treatment provides 24/7 support and a structured environment for anyone seeking to overcome stimulant addiction. Our compassionate and experienced staff create a safe and nurturing atmosphere for recovery.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) offers a step-down level of care, ideal for those who have completed residential treatment. This program provides daily therapy and support while allowing participants to return home or to a supportive living environment in the evenings.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed for individuals who need continued support but can manage their recovery in a less structured environment. Participants attend therapy sessions and group meetings during the day while residing at home or in a transitional living situation.
Our outpatient treatment options are ideal for those further along in their recovery journey. These programs offer flexibility and support while individuals continue to reintegrate into their daily lives.
Recognizing the signs of stimulant addiction and seeking appropriate treatment is essential for those who find themselves trapped in the cycle of dependence. Aliya Health Group is here to provide the care and support needed to regain control and build a brighter future free from stimulant addiction.