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Methamphetamine vs. Amphetamine: Similarities and Differences

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are two drugs that are in many ways similar, but they also have some big differences. In this blog, we compare methamphetamine vs amphetamine, to give you a clearer understanding of the nuances of these substances.

You should be aware that both of these drugs can be incredibly harmful. If you have become addicted to either, seek help immediately. Drug abuse can kill.

For information on how we can help you get clean from any type of drug, speak with Holina Rehab today on +66 (0) 626 418 369.

Similarities Between Methamphetamine and Amphetamine

To start, it’s important to recognize the similarities between methamphetamine and amphetamine, as they belong to the same drug class and share several characteristics.

Chemical Structure and Mechanism of Action

Both methamphetamine and amphetamine are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. Chemically, methamphetamine is the N-methyl derivative of amphetamine, making their structures very similar. This structural similarity means they act in comparable ways within your body. Both drugs increase the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain, leading to heightened alertness, increased energy, and give you a sense of euphoria.

Medical Uses

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are both prescribed for legitimate medical reasons. Amphetamines are commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Methamphetamine, in its prescription form (Desoxyn), is also used to treat ADHD and obesity. When used as prescribed, these drugs can significantly improve the quality of life for people with these conditions.

Potential for Abuse and Addiction

Despite their medical uses, both methamphetamine and amphetamine have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Their stimulating effects can lead to recreational use in medical users, which can quickly escalate into dependence. Both drugs can cause severe physical and psychological addiction, making it crucial to use them only under medical supervision.

Differences Between Methamphetamine and Amphetamine

While they share many similarities, methamphetamine and amphetamine have key differences that impact their effects, legal status, and risks.

Potency and Duration of Effects

Methamphetamine is significantly more potent than amphetamine. It crosses the blood-brain barrier more efficiently, leading to more intense and longer-lasting effects. This increased potency makes methamphetamine much more addictive and dangerous. The effects of methamphetamine can last up to 12 hours, whereas amphetamine effects typically last 4-6 hours.

Forms and Methods of Use

Amphetamine is usually prescribed in pill form, taken orally, though on the street it is typically found in a powder which is snorted, injected or taken orally. Methamphetamine can be found in several forms, including powder and crystalline (crystal meth), and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. Smoking and injecting lead to faster onset and more intense highs, contributing to higher abuse potential.

Legal Status and Medical Acceptance

Both drugs are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, indicating a high potential for abuse but with accepted medical uses. However, methamphetamine is less commonly prescribed due to its higher risk of addiction and severe side effects. Amphetamines, such as Adderall and Dexedrine, are more commonly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy and are considered safer under medical supervision.

Health Risks and Side Effects

The health risks associated with methamphetamine use are generally more severe than those linked to amphetamine use, though both can cause disastrous effects to your health.


Methamphetamine is one of the most damaging substances that you can take.

Physical Health Risks: Chronic methamphetamine use can lead to extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (often referred to as “meth mouth”), skin sores, and an increased risk of infectious diseases from needle use.

Mental Health Risks: Long-term use can cause severe anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior. Methamphetamine is also linked to significant brain damage, affecting memory and emotional regulation.


Physical Health Risks: Prolonged use can lead to cardiovascular problems, including hypertension and an increased risk of stroke. Other side effects include insomnia, weight loss, and appetite suppression.

Mental Health Risks: While less severe than methamphetamine, amphetamine use can still lead to anxiety, agitation, and mood swings. Long-term use may also cause dependency, cognitive impairments and psychosis.

Methamphetamine vs Amphetamine: Long-Term Effects

Understanding the long-term effects of methamphetamine vs amphetamine is essential for recognizing the full impact of these drugs.


Long-term methamphetamine use can cause profound brain changes that affect cognition and emotion. These changes can lead to permanent memory issues, learning difficulties, and emotional instability. The intense high and severe crash associated with methamphetamine can lead to a dangerous cycle of binging and crashing, exacerbating mental and physical health problems.


Chronic amphetamine abuse can also result in serious health issues, although generally a little less severe than those associated with methamphetamine. Long-term amphetamine use can cause cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. It can also lead to psychological issues, including depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Treatment for Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Addiction

Both of these substances are incredibly harmful for users, and both can kill. If you are addicted to either of these drugs, it is time to get help.

At Holina Rehab, we offer people who are addicted to all drugs the opportunity to recover in a safe and serene environment on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. Our beachfront centre and dedicated addiction professionals are waiting for you.

For more information on our approach to treating addiction to stimulants, or to arrange a visit, contact us today on +66 (0) 626 418 369.

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