Amphetamine vs. Methamphetamine

What's the Difference?

Amphetamine and methamphetamine are both stimulant drugs that belong to the amphetamine class. They have similar chemical structures and produce similar effects on the central nervous system. However, methamphetamine is more potent and has a longer-lasting effect compared to amphetamine. Methamphetamine is also more addictive and has a higher potential for abuse. Both drugs increase alertness, focus, and energy levels, but methamphetamine is known to produce a more intense and euphoric high. Additionally, methamphetamine has been associated with more severe health consequences, including neurotoxicity and increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Overall, while both drugs have similar properties, methamphetamine is considered to be more potent and dangerous than amphetamine.


Chemical FormulaC9H13NC10H15N
Street NamesSpeed, Uppers, BenniesCrystal, Ice, Tina
Medical UsesTreatment of ADHD, narcolepsyTreatment of ADHD, obesity
EffectsEuphoria, increased energy, alertnessIntense euphoria, increased energy, alertness
Duration of Effects4-8 hours8-12 hours
Routes of AdministrationOral, intranasal, intravenousOral, intranasal, intravenous, smoking
Legal StatusControlled substance (Schedule II)Controlled substance (Schedule II)
RisksCardiovascular problems, addictionCardiovascular problems, addiction, neurotoxicity

Further Detail


Amphetamine and methamphetamine are both powerful stimulant drugs that belong to the amphetamine class. While they share similarities in chemical structure and effects, there are important differences between the two substances. This article aims to explore and compare the attributes of amphetamine and methamphetamine, shedding light on their pharmacology, medical uses, potential for abuse, and associated risks.

Chemical Structure and Pharmacology

Amphetamine and methamphetamine have similar chemical structures, both consisting of a phenethylamine backbone with an amine group. However, methamphetamine has an additional methyl group attached to the amine, making it more potent and longer-lasting than amphetamine. This structural difference contributes to the varying pharmacological effects of the two substances.

Both amphetamine and methamphetamine work by increasing the release and blocking the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, in the brain. This leads to increased stimulation of the central nervous system, resulting in heightened alertness, improved focus, and elevated mood.

Medical Uses

Amphetamine has been used for several medical purposes, including the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is available in various formulations, such as immediate-release tablets and extended-release capsules, allowing for different durations of action. Amphetamine helps individuals with ADHD by improving their ability to concentrate and control impulsive behavior.

Methamphetamine, on the other hand, has limited medical use and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse. It is rarely prescribed and only in cases of severe obesity or attention deficit disorder that does not respond to other treatments. Methamphetamine is typically administered in the form of tablets or as a nasal spray.

Abuse Potential and Recreational Use

Both amphetamine and methamphetamine have a significant potential for abuse and are commonly used recreationally. Due to their stimulant effects, they are often sought after for their ability to increase energy, enhance euphoria, and suppress appetite.

However, methamphetamine is generally considered to have a higher abuse potential than amphetamine. This is primarily due to its increased potency and longer duration of action. Methamphetamine can produce a more intense and prolonged high, leading to a greater risk of addiction and dependence.

Furthermore, methamphetamine is often produced and sold illegally in a crystalline form known as "crystal meth" or "ice." This illicit production and distribution contribute to the widespread abuse of methamphetamine and its association with various social and health problems.

Health Risks and Side Effects

Both amphetamine and methamphetamine carry inherent health risks and can cause a range of side effects. These include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, decreased appetite, and dry mouth. Prolonged use of either substance can lead to more severe consequences, such as cardiovascular problems, psychosis, paranoia, and damage to the brain's dopamine system.

However, due to its increased potency, methamphetamine is generally associated with a higher risk of adverse effects. Chronic methamphetamine abuse can result in severe dental problems, skin sores, weight loss, and cognitive impairments. Additionally, the production and use of methamphetamine often involve dangerous chemicals and methods, posing additional health hazards to both users and those involved in its production.


Amphetamine and methamphetamine, while sharing similarities in structure and effects, differ in potency, medical uses, abuse potential, and associated risks. Amphetamine is commonly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy, while methamphetamine has limited medical use and is classified as a controlled substance. Both substances have a significant potential for abuse and can lead to various health problems when misused. It is crucial to understand the differences between these drugs and their potential risks to make informed decisions regarding their use.

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