According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methamphetamine (N-methylamphetamine) is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that can be prescribed for medical reasons.
Essentially, there are two types of methamphetamine: the form of methamphetamine that is used for medical reasons and the illicit form of the drug that goes by street names such as meth, glass, and crystal meth.
Methamphetamine was developed in the late 1800s as a potential treatment for asthma. It became widely used because of its stimulant properties, but it was also a significant drug of abuse.
Methamphetamine in all its forms is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a controlled substance (Schedule II or C II). While the drug does have some recognized medical uses, it is a potentially dangerous drug of abuse that may produce physical dependence in long-term users.
Only a person with a written prescription for methamphetamine can legally possess or use the drug.
Legal vs. Illegal Methamphetamine
The medicinal form of methamphetamine goes by the brand name Desoxyn. This medication can be useful in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it is used sparingly. It is most often used in patients who do not respond to other forms of medication.
Desoxyn can also be used in the treatment of obesity like many other central nervous systems (CNS) stimulants.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), forms of crystal meth or street methamphetamine are made in private laboratories using many products and over-the-counter medications that contain stimulants like ephedrine.
The privately manufactured forms of methamphetamine also often contain numerous potentially toxic substances as a result of their manufacturing process. They are not designed to treat any medical condition but solely designed as drugs of abuse.
Data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates the use of methamphetamine products in the United States.
(SAMHSA) estimates the use of methamphetamine products in the United States.
- In 2016, about 14.5 million individuals reported using methamphetamine products at least once in their lifetime; 1.4 million reported misusing a methamphetamine product within the year before the survey, and 667,000 individuals reported using methamphetamine within the month before the survey.
- In 2017, about 14.7 million individuals reported at least one lifetime use of methamphetamine; 1.6 million individuals reported using a methamphetamine product within the year before the survey, and 774,000 individuals reported using methamphetamine within the month before the survey.
Although the data presented by SAMHSA does not distinguish between the use of Desoxyn and street methamphetamine, it can be safely assumed that the vast majority of individuals were not using the medicinal form of methamphetamine.
How Meth Works
The medicinal form of methamphetamine and meth sold on the street are powerful stimulant drugs that elicit the release of many neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and others.
This release of neurotransmitters accounts for the medicinal effects of the drug (increased attention/concentration and decreased hyperactivity when used in small amounts for people with ADHD) and the psychoactive effects that those who abuse the drug seek (euphoria, increased energy, and feelings of vulnerability).Individuals using Desoxyn medicinally take smaller doses, take it in less frequent intervals, and do not binge on the drug.
Individuals who abuse the drug will most often smoke, snort, or inject the substance. They will typically engage in binge use of it; take it in large amounts more frequently, and often combine it with other drugs.
Any drug that is classified as a controlled substance is a potential drug of abuse.
Methamphetamine is a potential drug of abuse that may produce a stimulant use disorder, an addiction, in people who abuse the drug frequently. Addiction is not the same thing as physical dependence, although having a physical dependence on a drug may be a sign of addiction.
When a person uses a drug for medical reasons under the supervision of a physician, they may develop some level of physical dependence on the drug (expressing withdrawal symptoms after the development of tolerance to the drug); however, people who use drugs in this manner are not considered to be addicted to the drug.
Addiction is a syndrome that implies the frequent abuse of a drug (not using it for medical reasons) that results in the individual experiencing significant negative consequences associated with their drug abuse.
Similarities and Differences of Desoxyn and Meth
Methamphetamine sold on the street (crystal meth) and the methamphetamine found in Desoxyn are essentially the same chemical substance. However, crystal meth contains many toxic substances as a result of its manufacture.
For instance, the manufacturing process for street meth often includes potentially harmful products, such as sulfur, battery acid, lithium, toluene, antifreeze, and other products that are supposed to be removed from meth when the drug is made. Very often, these substances are not completely removed from street meth.
Those who abuse crystal meth will often display very rapid declines in psychological, cognitive, and physical health and functioning as a result of ingesting these toxic substances along with very high amounts of methamphetamine.
Moreover, because abusers of meth are more likely to use a mode of administration that results in the far more effective delivery of the drug into the central nervous system and use far greater amounts of the drug, they will typically have more side effects, more cognitive effects, and display far more serious physical effects than individuals who use Desoxyn for a legitimate medical reason as prescribed by their doctor.
However, the methamphetamine in Desoxyn should be considered to be just as potentially addictive as the meth in crystal meth.