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drug information

Methamphetamine

Amphetamines are the name for a family of drugs that act as stimulants to the central nervous system. Stimulants speed up the messages to and from the brain. Amphetamines also act as appetite suppressants and some are legally prescribed for this purpose.

  1. What it is

    Methamphetamine is one of a family of drugs called amphetamines, which act as central nervous system stimulants. They speed up the messages to and from the brain – earning them the street name ‘speed’. The pharmaceutical name for amphetamine is Dexamphetamine, which is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, and is an ingredient in some diet pills.

  2. Health effects

    Short-term effects

    Effects can vary depending on the type and amount of methamphetamine used, how it is taken, and individual factors like tolerance, size, gender, and health. The onset of effects is fastest when methamphetamine is injected or smoked.

  3. Dependence, addiction and overdose risk

    Dependence and addiction

    Methamphetamine is highly addictive. Tolerance to methamphetamine develops quickly, meaning that higher doses are necessary to achieve the same effects or ‘high’. Many users compensate for this reduction in effect by taking increased doses, sometimes starting a cycle of drug use and withdrawal typical of methamphetamine dependence.

  4. Law and penalities

    Methamphetamine has been the focus of considerable public attention over the last decade. Due to its potential to harm individual users and society methamphetamine is a Class A controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, meaning it attracts the highest penalties for manufacture, trafficking, sale and use.

  5. Drug trends

    Methamphetamine use in New Zealand has generally been decreasing.

    The number of people who used methamphetamine in the past year (aged 16-64) has gone down from 2.7% in 2003 to 0.9% in 2015. The way this information was collected has also changed over time which may have had an impact on the numbers.

    Amphetamine use data table

  6. Reducing the harm

    The Drug Foundation’s message is clear: no drug use is the safest drug use. However, we know there will be occasions when people ignore warnings and use drugs in a dangerous manner. To help keep communities safe we therefore provide information about proven methods of drug harm reduction.

  7. How to get help

    If you feel you or anyone you know needs help, there are a number of treatment organisations you can contact in strict confidence.

  8. Methamphetamine and pregnancy

    Using methamphetamine during pregnancy can effect the development of the foetus. Use of any amphetamine type stimulant is associated with bleeding, premature labour and miscarriage.

  9. Links

    A list of relevant links to further information and resources about methamphetamine: