Drug A - Z

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. It is closely related to amphetamines, but has a greater effect on the central nervous system. Street names for methamphetamine include “P”, “pure”, “speed”, “meth”, “chalk”, “crank”, “crystal”, “ice”, “glass”, “crystal meth”, “sketch”, “go”, “junk”, “wake up”, “zoom”‘, “tweak” and “dope”.


It belongs to a class of drugs known as “stimulants” and works by releasing high levels of the brain chemical dopamine, stimulating brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. Methamphetamine is also a neurotoxin, which means that it damages the neurons that produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

The immediate effect of Methamphetamine, even in small doses, is to increase wakefulness, physical activity and to decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure.

Long term impact can lead to classic addiction symptoms as the user requires increasingly amounts of the drug. In addition to being addicted to methamphetamine, chronic abusers may exhibit symptoms that can include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine. Long-term users also suffer physical effects, including weight loss, severe tooth decay and tooth loss (“meth mouth”), and skin sores.

Long term use has been shown to have a negative impact upon brain activity, causing reduced motor speed and impaired visual learning. While some of these changes may be reversible after prolonged abstinence from Methamphetamine, other effects may become permanent.

Methamphetamine is a class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act and therefore attracts severe penalties.

Manufacturing, importing, dealing and possession for supply can lead to a life sentence. Possession of five grams of methamphetamine (a tablespoon) is enough to warrant a conviction for possession for supply.

Those caught importing the precursors of methamphetamine (pseudoephedrine and ephedrine) without a licence can attract jail sentences of up to eight years.

Possessing a pipe or utensil for smoking methamphetamine is also an offence and can result in a one year jail term or a fine of up to $1000.