Qualitative and Quantatative Effects of Methamphetamine on Mammalian Species


Methamphetamine has recently become very popular with young adults in today's society. Ten years ago, very little was known about this terrible drug. In 2010, there is a lot of knowledge to be spread out explaining the drug of choice at many clubs and raves. Different data on how methamphetamine affects memory, motor skills, and sex drive have been published in this year alone. Treatment for addiction is a very hot topic, and is also covered in great extent. In addition, however, methamphetamine has been proven to be a great medicine for diseases such as ADHD and painful illnesses. Methamphetamine is a powerful little molecule and is indeed worthy of experiment and discussion.


N-methyl-1-phenylpropan-2-amine or more simply put, methamphetamine is a stimulant that which taken correctly may increase energy and alertness. It is known to many as crystal meth, ice, or glass. (Meth, Bing) In pure form it is a translucent white crystal, but it is more often found as a crude product in a white powdered form. This chemical, while having pharmaceutical purposes, is much more known for its illegal use in the club scene. A high dose or meth triggers euphoria and a more powerful libido. The following paragraphs will cover the production, feelings associated, and effects of high doses. The rest of the paper will cover the recent research being performed on methamphetamines and the conclusions reached in that research.


Methamphetamine (Fig. 1) can be produced simply by a protonation of the hydroxyl group on an ephedrine (Fig. 2) molecule. (Meth, Wikipedia) This protonation can be accomplished by any number of acids. The resulting aqueous solution must be dried and washed with volatile solvent. Recrystallization is not necessary, but to produce the crystalline form of methamphetamine, it is necessary. There are many other ways to synthesize this chemical, but they tend to be much more intensive and dangerous. Such a reaction is the Birch reduction of the hydroxyl group. This reaction requires ammonia, a catalyst metal (Sodium/ Lithium), and volatile organic solvents, however. (Dobkin, Nicosia, 2008)

meth.png Fig(1)
207px-(-)-Ephedrin.svg.pngFig. 2

Who Does It Effect:

In 2007, a paper was released that collected data from 2002 and compared it to data collected similarly in 2001. The paper concluded that methamphetamine use in young adults had doubled from 1.1% in 2000-2001, to 2.8% in 2001-2002. This is the most recent paper displaying methamphetamine research such as this. The characteristics of full sample and crystal methamphetamine user sample and prevalence of past year use is located below. (Table 1) From this table it is easy to see the correlation between different classifications of people. Once again, all parties in this survey were in between and including the ages of 18 and 26. The highest usage was seen in Native American males. The second highest usage was seen in families in which the fathers had at one time been incarcerated. The third highest was seen in young adults living in western USA, but that can be attributed to Native American reservations which are mostly found in western America. In another grouping, it was found that poverty stricken individuals are twice as likely to use methamphetamine as monetarily stable ones.(Iritani, Hallfors, & Bauer, 2007) It can be assumed than due to the economy of late that methamphetamine usage has only increased since 2002 when this survey was finished.

The Effects:

The high associated with methamphetamines is like nothing any other drug (legal or not) can deliver. There are numerous ways to learn the effects of taking a drug such as methamphetamine, but none are like discussing with people who have had those experiences. A few written experiences of methamphetamine are available on the internet. The general high could be described by the following. When snorting crystal meth, a stinging sensation is felt in the nose. This is the hydrochloric acid that is used in many circumstances to coordinate to the methamphetamine to create the crystal solid. After that there is no obvious sensation. Eventually the person will start to talk faster and show signs of increased energy and sympathy. In many instances, such as with 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or ecstasy, the user has increased feelings of caring, passion, and love. During the time when one is high, processes that normally take long periods of concentrated effort can be done quickly and without second thought. In many cases, meth is used in a collegiate atmosphere to concentrate on large projects that would normally take days, such as writing a report. In one situation, a Berkley student (Bob Berkley) claimed to have written a twenty-two page report in under seven hours while on methamphetamine. (Bob, B, 2005) However, as the drug wears out, the user starts to slow down to a pace which is noticeable to them. At this point, the addictive nature of meth attracts the user to another hit. If taken consecutively, a high may be maintained for days. The longer one goes is obviously related to the recovery time needed after the usage.

The side effects from this increase in concentration (among other things) are vast. In one experience, a collegiate student listed the following side effects: Sore Throat, canker sore in back of neck from a post-nasal drip, chapped lips, jaw pain and headache from teeth grinding, clenched stomach from hunger, and feeling completely drained and depressed. The toughest part of the recovery for this student, who called herself Penelope Pothead, can be quoted directly from her paper, “And all I wanted was more meth.” (Pothead, P, 2005)


Methamphetamine usage has been connected to many clubs and rave events where dancing for long periods of time is associated. These events, many times, attract police. While police have many easily accessible ways to test for alcohol presence or levels, there is no legal or popular means for testing for “club drugs” on site. Those who are assumed to have taken drugs must be arrested and taken to a police station. Here the police must take a blood sample and send it to an outside contracted lab that has the ability to test for different chemicals.

Methamphetamine and other popular drugs such as ecstasy are known to lead to illegal activities. When surveying users, over ten percent said methamphetamine caused them the most “problems” in terms of illegal activity. The purpose of these studies was to determine the most efficient way of testing for levels of chemicals in a user’s body. If there could be inexpensive machines to accomplish this task, then police stations could all be equipped to test for these drugs.

Over the last ten years there have been seventy-three published methods on testing for methamphetamine. Testing is over 90% conducted using urine, blood, or plasma samples. This dramatic rise in testing shows there is a huge interest in supplying machines to police stations. Yet, not only in the realm of police raids will this information be useful. While methamphetamine is a dangerous and widely abused drug, it is also a medication of sufferers of Attention Deficit Disorder and other concentration based illnesses. In addition, in many rape cases, amphetamine chemicals are used as date rape drugs. This research can be easily transferred into this field of study. Some amphetamines are quick to disperse and leave a human system. Therefore, the quicker a test sample can be ran, the more chance the police have of putting the convict in prison. (Brown, Melton, 2010)

Memory Loss:

With recent increases in usage of methamphetamine in young adults in past years, it has been viewed with increased urgency to learn more about this chemical. Many experiments have been performed on methamphetamine to learn of its potential dangers in the past few years. One of these experiments deals with the loss of the sense of smell. In this test rats were tested to find the amount of time they were interested in an odor associated with their home. After twenty-four hours of familiarization with the odor the rats were tested for length of time they smelled a bead concentrated with the familiar smell. The rats were then exposed to a one day binge of methamphetamine. The interest in the smell did not return to normal until three weeks had past. This is data that either proves that methamphetamine affects the smelling sense or the ability for the rats to remember the smell of their natural habitat. It turned out that after testing of the rats that the drug had indeed reduced the ability of the brain to remember the smell associated with the rat’s home.(O'Dell, Feinberg, & Marshall, 2011)

Meth & Youth:

Methamphetamine has been proven to attack the dopamine transporter in the striatum. This part of the body is also affected by cocaine and other drugs. An experiment performed in Toledo, Ohio decided to test if methamphetamine taken before puberty in the human brain affected the way that cocaine was handled by the body later in life.

Male rats were injected with methamphetamine during the first week of their birth. These rats were then raised equally and given varying ranges of concentrations of cocaine. After data collection, it was shown that rats injected with methamphetamine before puberty were drasctically more affected by cocaine then rats not given MA before puberty. The testing was completed by measuring movement of rats for a span of time after the injection of cocaine. (McFadden, Yamamoto, & Matuszewich, 2011)

Neurotoxic Effects:

One related paper written in 2010 studied the effects of pharmacological manipulations on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. In this paper, researchers compiled data on many different stimulations and chemicals that could disturb (for better or worse) the hippocampal neurogenesis of mice. Of course, one of the chemicals that were tested was methamphetamine. Hippocampal neurogenesis is a mostly prenatal process that occurs to create neurons for the human body. Methamphetamine was reported to reduce cell proliferation and survival of newborn cells. This demonstrates the susceptibility of the brain when under development in offspring. This can be related to antisocial behaviors and mood changes observed in drug addicts. (Cho & Kim, 2010)

It is known that methamphetamine is a neurotoxic drug that when abused may severely damage the dopamine neuronal system. It has been assumed that dopamine depletion aids in the methamphetamine induced neurotoxitcity of the striatum. The striatum is extensively innervated by serotonin nerve endings. This system is also affected in much of the same way that happens to dopamine when exposed to methamphetamine. It is unknown, however, how extensively the serotonin takes part in the methamphetamine induced damage to the dopamine nerve endings in the striatum.

In this experiment, mice were split into four different groups. One group was a control and not given any chemicals. The second group was given only serotonin to judge attack on the striatum. The third group was given four methamphetamine doses every two hours. The final group of mice was given not only the methamphetamine dosage, but also the serotonin chemicals. The mice were all killed forty-eight hours from the final dose of methamphetamine was given to group three and four. (Thomas, Perez, Francescutti-Verbeem, Shah, & Kuhn, 2010)

Striatal dopamine levels were gathered from all groupings. The second grouping showed an increase in the dopamine. The third and forth grouping showed levels at 35% and 25% respectively. This data, while meant to prove that serotonin has very little effect on the dopamine levels in mice’s striatum, showed in the process how drastically methamphetamine lowers dopamine nerve ending in a specific part of the mouse brain. (Thomas et al., 2010) This allows for the buildup of neurotoxicity which can be very dangerous, if not deadly to abusers of this drug.

This neurotoxicity is also an effect of human immunodeficiency virus type 1. An experiment was published in 2010 on the combination of these this virus and methamphetamine. Methamphetamine and HIV-1 both target a similar portion of the brain when building neurotoxicity. The combination of these two is found in many modern cultures where methamphetamine leads to unsafe sex. To test the effects that HIV and methamphetamine had on each other, different groups of cats were given methamphetamine, HIV-1, or both. The cats were tested for the onset of lymphadenopathy, which is a common effect of high levels of neurotoxicity. The cats that were given both chemicals were much more prone to acquire this disease. During this experiment it was proven that the combination of high levels of methamphetamine and HIV-1 can lead to extra-high levels of neurotoxicity in the brain. (Huitron-Resendiz et al., 2010)

As A Stimulant:

Methamphetamine is used in many cases as a stimulant during sexual encounters. Couples may take this drug to increase their sexual pleasure from an experience. In some laboratory tests, however, it has been proven that too high a dose my decrease sexual performance. To determine the correct truth an experiment was performed in late 2009 and published in 2010.

The experiment used thirty-two male rats, each given different doses of methamphetamine or the saline solution for control, to test their sexuality. Rats were standardized by raising them in the same environment under very strict conditions for a few days prior to testing. The cages were lit for twelve hours of the day and dark for the other twelve. Testing was done during the first six hours of the nighttime for the rats. (Frohmader, Bateman, Lehman, & Coolen, 2010)

Rats were given either zero, one, two or four milligrams of methamphetamine before the start of the test. Rats were watched for the number of times they tried to perform intercourse with the female rats which were added thirty minutes after the injection. This cycle was performed multiple days. While the experiment was about sexual activity, it was noted by the scientists that after injection, the rats with methamphetamine added to their systems were much more active. (Frohmader et al., 2010)

The data concluded what had been assumed before. When methamphetamine was given to a rat, it seemed like that creature would be more likely to perform sexual activity up until a certain point. This point was between two and four milligrams. It was documented that the rats that had 2 milligrams of methamphetamine injected mounted a female 22.6 percent of the time, while a male with four milligrams of methamphetamine would only mount a female 2.7 percent. The control group mounted the female 11.1 percent of the time. (Frohmader et al., 2010)

In another related experiment, performed at the University of Kentucky, Japanese quail were exposed to methamphetamine (or saline solution) and allowed to interact with female quail. In this experiment, however, the quail that were exposed to one or three milligrams of methamphetamine showed less interest in sexual interaction than with the quail given no methamphetamine. The researchers added that sexual performance was not assessed. This could mean that while methamphetamine makes intercourse less desireable, it may still be as pleasurable for the participants. This goes against the experiment above, as well as many clinical and experimental studies that indicate that methamphetamine increases sexual drive (to a point.)

This information, while not tested, is conclusive enough on a fellow mammal that methamphetamine can be assumed to increase sexual drive in humans. The combination of methamphetamine, alcohol, and clubs is very dangerous. Sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and other "sexual misfortunes" have been more frequent lately. While, one can not purely blame methamphetamine for these trends, it is definitely not the solution scientists are looking for.

Battling Addiction:

Methamphetamine is highly addictive and can easily lead to destroying someone’s life. Therefore, scientists in Kansas City have been testing medications for treating methamphetamine dependence. Twenty-eight highly addicted methamphetamine users were subject to injections of perindopril in either two, four, or eight milligram amounts. While data was not conclusive in this testing, there was evidence that dependence lessened over the ten week study. Some subjects were recorded as saying their temptations to take methamphetamines had lessened significantly from the first day of experimenting. Once again, this was no conclusive data, but it was positive, nonetheless, in looking for a possible “cure.” (Newton, De La, & Grasing, 2010)

Medical Uses:

Methamphetamine is known as a dangerous street drug. Yet, the reason it is so widely known for this is due to its incredible reactivity with the brain. Methamphetamine has been tried successfully to cure normal diseases such as ADHD, which are quite common. (Bussing & Levin, 1993) In cases where a patient is addicted to a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine may be used in small doses to slowly remove the addiction a patient has for another drug. (Rothman, Blough, & Baumann, 2008)

Ritalin is the most popular form of treating ADHD. In an experiment performed in 2009, gerbils given Ritalin and methamphetamine were tested side by side to determine effectiveness. Methamphetamine proved to be the more powerful of the two for stimulating the gerbil’s brain. (Schaefers, Teuchert-Noodt, Bagorda, & Brummelte, 2009) Experiment that test the power of methamphetamine in stimulating dopamine and serotonin receptors has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that meth can do more than any other drug available. (Borycz, Zapata, Quiroz, Volkow, & Ferre, 2008)

Methamphetamine has been suspect at creating ADHD is abusers of the drug. An experiment published in 2004 states evidence that proves methamphetamine abuse may indeed lead to adult onset ADHD. (D'Souza et al., 2004) This requires an addict that has been on methamphetamine for so long that ADHD would be the least of his or her worries.


Methamphetamine is a powerful drug. Yet, it is a dangerous drug. No matter how much good it could do in the world, nothing will ever happen due to the negatives associated with it. This chemical is worth experimenting with. There will be a use for it in modern medicine in the future. Yet, before that, we must learn to control it.



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