General Methamphetamine Information

This section provides general information about methamphetamine use in Australia. It explains what methamphetamine is, how it is used, and the effects of use.

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a more potent form of the drug amphetamine. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine belong to the ‘stimulant’ class of drugs, which also includes ecstasy and cocaine. These drugs stimulate the brain and central nervous system, resulting in increased alertness, activity, euphoria, and suppressed appetite.

Common street names for methamphetamine include meth, speed, whiz, fast, uppers, goey, louee, Lou Reed, rabbit, tail, and pep pills. In paste form it can be referred to as base, pure, or wax; in liquid form it can be referred to as ox blood, leopard’s blood, red speed, or liquid speed. In crystal form methamphetamine can be known as ice, meth, d-meth, glass, crystal, batu, and shabu.

See FAQ Are there different forms of methamphetamine? for more information about the different types of methamphetamine.

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

Why do people use methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine increases neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate sleep, mood and appetite. This can result in the user feeling alert, energised, talkative, happy, confident and powerful. It is also associated with a strong sense of euphoria. Some people use methamphetamine socially at events such as parties or clubs, while others use methamphetamine to combat fatigue or suppress their appetite. 

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

How is methamphetamine used?

Methamphetamine can be used in several different ways, including swallowing, injecting, smoking and snorting. Occasionally people ‘shaft’ it (suppository). For more information about how particular types of methamphetamine are used, see FAQ Are there different forms of methamphetamine?

For more information about methamphetamine visit Drug Info.

Are there different forms of methamphetamine?

There are several different forms of methamphetamine. They are generally distinguished by their appearance and perceived purity, and include:  

  • Powder: A white or off-white powder generally known as ‘speed’. Powder is the least potent form of methamphetamine, and is often mixed with other substances such as glucose. It can be snorted, injected, or swallowed. Powder is also sometimes pressed into pills.
  • Base: A damp or oily substance with a white, yellow, or brown colour. Base has a higher potency and purity than powder. It can vary greatly in appearance and is known by various terms, including ‘pure’, ‘paste’, and ‘wax’. Base is typically injected and sometimes swallowed.
  • Crystal (‘ice’): A crystalline substance of translucent to white appearance. Crystal methamphetamine is the most potent form of methamphetamine, and is usually smoked or injected.

The drug ‘ecstasy’ (methylenedioxymethamphetamine - MDMA) is sometimes included as a type of methamphetamine. However, while ecstasy is a derivative of methamphetamine, it has a different chemical structure and effect. It is therefore not included in the information and statistics presented in this section of the NADK.

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

Source: Adapted from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre’s Methamphetamine Factsheet (2015).

What are the effects of methamphetamine use?

Methamphetamine use stimulates the brain and central nervous system, and can result in a variety of adverse outcomes. The effect that methamphetamine has on an individual depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • how much methamphetamine is taken
  • the method of use
  • the form and purity of the methamphetamine
  • the height and weight of the user
  • the user’s current physical and mental health status
  • the user’s previous experience with methamphetamine (i.e. new user vs frequent user)
  • whether other substances (alcohol, tobacco, medications, or other illicit drugs) are used at the same time as methamphetamine.

Immediate effects of methamphetamine use can include:

  • increased energy and talkativeness
  • increased attention and alertness
  • a sense of euphoria and wellbeing
  • increased heart rate, body temperature, and sweating
  • increased sex drive
  • decreased appetite
  • jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dilated pupils
  • dry mouth
  • nervousness, anxiety, and paranoia.

In the days following methamphetamine use, other effects may include:

  • restless sleep and exhaustion
  • headaches
  • dizziness and blurred vision
  • paranoia, hallucinations, and confusion
  • irritability, mood swings, and depression.

For more information about the effects of methamphetamine, see FAQs What are the physical health risks of methamphetamine use? and What are the mental health risks of methamphetamine use?

Where is methamphetamine manufactured?

Methamphetamine is manufactured in clandestine chemical laboratories. Methamphetamine laboratories have been reported in all regions of the world.

Most methamphetamine sold in Australia in powder or base form is produced domestically in illegal laboratories. Some methamphetamine in crystalline form (ice) is also manufactured within Australia, but most crystalline methamphetamine sold in Australia is imported from East and South East Asia. 

For more information about methamphetamine visit Drug Info.

Source:  Adapted from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2015 and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre’s (NDARC) Methamphetamine Factsheet (2015).