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Methamphetamine – N-methyl-1-phenylpropan-2-amine (meth, crystal, chalk, ice, speed, etc.) is a central nervous system stimulant that is extremely addictive. It is classified as a schedule II drug because of its high possibility for abuse. The substance is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder and chemically similar to amphetamine. Methamphetamine is consumed orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. This drug is only available by prescription to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as other conditions. Most of the methamphetamine abused in the United States comes from foreign or domestic superlabs. It is also made in small illegal laboratories. As a result, this endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.

Toxicology and Testing

Methamphetamine contains 2 isomers. The first is d-methamphetamine. This isomer increases alertness, concentration, energy, and it may cause euphoria and improve self-esteem. Desoxyn (used to treat ADHD), is made up completely of the d isomer. Overall, d-methamphetamine is especially appealing to a potential abuser. The other isomer is l-methamphetamine. L-methamphetamine impacts the sympathetic nervous system, but does not have a great deal to do with the central nervous system. This isomer helps treat nasal congestion. When testing a urine sample, a laboratory must tell the difference between each isomer.

Three different tests can be run by the laboratory. The first test covers the amphetamine class of prescriptions, which also includes methamphetamine. No additional test is needed when the initial tests comes back negative. However, if the initial test is positive, then a confirmation test is performed in order to detect which compounds of amphetamine and/or methamphetamine exist. When meth is detected in this test, then a third test is done to determine the ratio of the 2 isomers. These tests help determine the source of a positive result.

Health Effects

Meth is rapidly sent to the brain when smoked or injected which creates an instant and intense euphoria. The euphoria does not last long which motivates people to repeat use.  Using meth multiple times can lead to addiction. Long-term users experience anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and also show violent behavior. Long-term use also includes psychosis, such as paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions. Long-term use may negatively impact physical health by causing weight loss, severe dental issues, and skins sores due to scratching. Chronic use can cause chemical and molecular changes in the brain associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Even a small amount of the drug can lead to increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature. Overall, meth alters judgement and can lead people to partake in risky behavior.

AMC offers urine drug screening and hair follicle testing covering amphetamines which also includes methamphetamines. A urine drug screen can detect meth going back 1-3 days and up to 90 days in a hair follicle test. AMC also offers drug screening programs as a way to ensure the safest workplace possible.


National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Methamphetamine Urine Toxicology: An In-depth Review By Michael DeGeorge, Jr., PharmD and John Weber.