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Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that has a high potential for abuse. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.

Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and can be administered orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking.

Common street names used for Methamphetamine include "crystal meth", "meth" or "ice".

Manufacturing methamphetamine is dangerous because the process is toxic and potentially explosive. The vast majority of the methamphetamine found in the U.S. comes from foreign or domestic superlabs. But methamphetamine can also be produced in small, illegal laboratories where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.

Methamphetamine works by increasing the release and blocking the reuptake of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) dopamine. This in turn leads to high levels of dopamine in the brain which is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Methamphetamine's ability to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria that many users experience after snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug. By activating this psychological reward system in the brain, Methamphetamine has high potential for abuse and addiction.

Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions, with imaging studies showing alterations in the area of the brain that is associated with motor skills and verbal learning. Studies have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory, which explains many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.

Methamphetamine addiction results in compulsive drug seeking and use, which is accompanied by chemical and molecular changes in the brain. Some of these changes continue long after methamphetamine abuse is stopped. Methamphetamine addicts may experience a psychosis resembling schizophrenia which can persist as long as six months post-methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine use results in many of the same physical effects as other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. This many include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia.

Long-term methamphetamine abuse can have severe health consequences including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers tend to experience bouts of paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).

Methamphetamine use can alter the user's judgment and can lead to unsafe behavior such as risky sexual behavior. Among abusers who inject methamphetamine, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases can be spread through contaminated needles, syringes, and other injection equipment that is used by more than one person. Additionally, methamphetamine abusers who are HIV-positive show greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment as compared to HIV-positive people who do not use the drug.

Abrupt cessation of chronic methamphetamine use results in the withdrawal symptoms in almost 90% of the cases. Withdrawal from methamphetamine can result in fatigue, depression anxiety, irritability, headaches, agitation, akathisia, hypersomnia (excessive sleeping), vivid or lucid dreams, deep REM sleep and suicidal ideation and an increased appetite. These symptoms may last for days, or weeks or months for chronic methamphetamine users. The mental depression associated with methamphetamine withdrawal lasts longer and is more severe than that of cocaine withdrawal.