Methamphetamine or "meth" is a powerful, tremendously addictive psychomotor stimulant.
Most of the methamphetamine available on the street is made in secret, makeshift laboratories that may be found in ordinary kitchens, bathrooms, basements, or sheds. The ingredients used to make meth are fairly inexpensive, although they can be difficult to obtain. The process for making ("cooking") methamphetamine is not difficult to learn, so uneducated drug dealers can make the drug without any scientific training. Making methamphetamine is also incredibly dangerous; toxic fumes fill the labs, and explosions and fires are constant dangers.
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Another common form of the drug is called crystal meth, or "ice," because it comes in large chunky crystals that look like ice chunks or rock candy. The powder form of the drug may be snorted, swallowed, or diluted and injected. The "crystal" form of the drug is smoked in a glass pipe like crack cocaine.
Immediately after smoking, snorting, or injecting methamphetamine, the user experiences an intense "rush" of excitement and pleasure. The rush lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. The other of effects of methamphetamine tend to last from 6 to 12 hours. During these hours, the user generally feels nervous and agitated. As the high begins to wear off, the user enters a stage called "tweaking." Tweakers experience delusions, compulsive behavior, paranoia, and a tendency to violence. Many users try to avoid the "crash" at the end of a meth high by continuing to use the drug until they run out of money or collapse. A binge and crash cycle like this is called a "run."
Methamphetamine was derived from its parent drug, amphetamine, in Japan in 1919. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine were used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.
Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. There are a few accepted medical reasons for its use, such as the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder, and -- for short-term use -- obesity; but these medical uses are limited.