What is Meth, Crystal Meth, Methamphetamine?

What is meth? It's not a harmless party drug. Meth, Crystal Meth, Methamphetamine is a dangerous, addictive drug. Get trusted answers to hat is meth?

Some people ask, "What is meth?" or "What is crystal meth?" People often don't realize that meth and crystal meth are street names for methamphetamine. So the real question is, "What is methamphetamine?"

Methamphetamine is a highly-addictive, synthesized drug in the groups:

  • Psychostimulant - also known as a stimulant; a drug that acts on the central nervous system, particularly the brain
  • Amphetamine - a chemical class, including stimulants, based on a similar chemical core

In 1919, a Japanese pharmacologist first synthesized methamphetamine. In the 1930s, more chemical details were attained and inhalable methamphetamine was introduced. The euphoric and energizing effects were quickly seen leading to the drug's abuse. Methamphetamine was used during World War II and Operation Desert Storm troops and in spite of strict regulation and attempts to reduce illegal production, meth's illicit use still continues to grow.1

What is Meth? What is Crystal Meth Used For?

Methamphetamine is FDA approved and legally sold in the U.S. under the name Desoxyn for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity.

When answering, "What is meth?" however, the response requires an explanation of its illicit uses.

Crystal meth is a popular drug among addicts due to its easy availability, low cost and long high as compared to cocaine. The high of crystal meth include:

  • Increase in alertness, concentration, and energy
  • Euphoria
  • Increased self-esteem and libido

(More detailed information on meth facts.)

Because of these methamphetamine effects, meth is often used by students, athletes, shift workers, the military and long haul drivers. Use of methamphetamine is extremely risky; however, as not only is meth highly-addictive, but it can cause heart attack, stroke, long-term brain damage, and death.

What is Meth? - How is Meth Used?

Methamphetamine can be used in the following ways:

  • Ingestion (oral) - does not produce a rush due to digestion. Not a method used by meth addicts.
  • Injection - intravenous use, also known as slamming, mainlining or shooting up, is the fastest way of getting methamphetamine into the bloodstream and brain, producing the high in the shortest amount of time.
  • Smoking - involves heating and vaporizing meth and then inhaling the smoke.
  • Snorting - similar to snorting with cocaine.
  • Suppository - a less common method of use.

The faster methamphetamine enters the bloodstream the more likely it is to addict the user. Intravenous use is considered to be the most addictive way followed by smoking, suppository, snorting and finally, eating.

What is Meth? - Other Names for Methamphetamine

Other names for methamphetamine include:

  • Ice (typically the smokable form of meth)
  • Crystal
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop
  • Go
  • Tweak

Methamphetamine is also a common street drug in Japan where it's known as "shabu."

For information on:

  • Meth Addiction: Symptoms, effects, withdrawal, where to get help and treatment

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, June 6). What is Meth, Crystal Meth, Methamphetamine?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Last Updated: October 25, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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