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Drug Information > Amphetamines

Drug Appearance:

Tablets of varying colors
Illeagally Manufactured Methamphetamine:
White or yellow powder

Street Name(s):

Uppers  Speed  Meth  Whites Dexies
Crank  Black Beauties  Benny  Crystal 
Jelly Beans  White Cross

Signs of Use:

Long periods without rest or sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, rapid speech, tremors, mood elevation, possible chain-smoking

Physical Symptoms:

Depression, decreased alertness and muscle control, intoxication and slurred speech, drowsiness


Disorientation, severe depression, paranoia, possible hallucinations, increase in blood pressure, fatigue

Common Amphetamines:

Proprietary (Trade) Name Substance DEA Schedule*
Adderall Dextroamphetamine II
Dexedrine Dextroamphetamine II
Crystal Meth Methamphetamine II
Ritalin Methylphenidate II
Concerta Methylphenidate II

Further Information

Amphetamine, dextroamphetamine and methamphetamine, are collectively referred to as amphetamines. Their chemical properties and actions are so similar that even experienced users have difficulty knowing which drug they have taken.

Amphetamine was first marketed in the 1930s as Benzedrine in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion. By 1937 amphetamine was available by prescription in tablet form and was used in the treatment of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy and the behavioral syndrome called minimal brain dysfunction (MBD), which today is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

During World War II, amphetamine was widely used to keep the fighting men going; both dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methamphetamine (Methedrine) became readily available. As use of amphetamines spread, so did their abuse. Amphetamines became a cure-all for helping truckers to complete their long routes without falling asleep, for weight control, for helping athletes to perform better and train longer, and for treating mild depression. Intravenous amphetamine abuse spread among a subculture known as "speed freaks." With experience, it became evident that the dangers of abuse of these drugs outweighed most of their therapeutic uses.

Along with methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.), amphetamine is one of the standard treatments for ADHD. Beneficial effects for ADHD can include improved impulse control, improved concentration, decreased sensory overstimulation, decreased irritability and decreased anxiety. These effects on productivity can be dramatic in both young children and adults. The ADHD medication Adderall is composed of four different amphetamine salts, and Adderall XR is a timed-release formulation of these same salt forms.

When used within the recommended doses, side-effects like loss of appetite tend to decrease over time. However, amphetamines last longer in the body than methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.), and tend to have stronger side-effects on appetite and sleep.

Amphetamines are also a standard treatment for narcolepsy, as well as other sleeping disorders. If used within therapeutic limits, amphetamines are generally effective over long periods of time without producing addiction or physical dependence.

Amphetamines are sometimes used to augment anti-depressant therapy in treatment-resistant depression.

Medical use for weight loss is still approved in some countries, but is regarded as obsolete and dangerous in others.


Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that activates certain systems in the brain. It is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater. Both drugs have some medical uses, primarily in the treatment of obesity, but their therapeutic use is limited. The central nervous system (CNS) actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hypethermia, and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Hyperthermia and convulsions can result in death.

Illicit methamphetamine, which is almost exclusively methamphetamine hydrochloride, is sold in powder, ice, and tablet forms. Powder methamphetamine, the most common form available in the United States, is produced domestically and also is smuggled into the country from Mexico. Traditionally, Asian-produced ice was almost exclusively found in Guam, Hawaii, and parts of California; however, increased domestic production of this form of methamphetamine has increased availability to several other areas of the country previously untouched by exposure to ice. Methamphetamine tablets, primarily manufactured in Burma, have been smuggled into the United States, especially to northern California and the Los Angeles area.

Methamphetamine is also known as "speed" or "crystal" when it is swallowed or sniffed; as "crank" when it is injected; and as "ice" or "glass" when it is smoked.

Ice is clear chunky crystal form of meth that resembles "ice."

YABA: Thai for "crazy medicine," Yaba, a methamphetamine tablet, has been appearing in the United States. Yaba tablets are sometimes flavored (grape, orange, and vanilla): tasting like candy, the tablets are obviously marketed to a young audience, particularly at raves or parties where Ecstasy (a similar looking drug) has been well established. The tablets are commonly reddish-orange or green, and fit inside the end of a drinking straw. They have a variety of logos, with WY the most common. Methamphetamine pills are normally ingested orally, although they can be crushed into powder and administered.

All forms of methamphetamine are extremely dangerous and induce long-lasting, debilitating effects.

Meth Labs are a growing problem throughout the country (US). Click here to learn about how methamphetamine is made and to learn how to spot a lab.

    Source: DEA, "Drug Intelligence Brief: The Forms of Methamphetamine,"


Substance: Urine Hair Saliva
Methamphetamine 1-3 days up to 90 days 24 to 36 hours
Dextroamphetamine 1-3 days up to 90 days 24 to 36 hours
Methylphenidate N/A N/A N/A

    *Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I and II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacture among other restrictions. Schedule I drugs are available for research only and have no approved medical use. Schedule II drugs are available only through prescription, cannot have refills and require a form for ordering. Schedule III and IV drugs are available with prescription, may have 5 refills in 6 months and may be ordered orally. Most Schedule V drugs are available over the counter.



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