Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. It may be injected, snorted, swallowed or smoked.
It is known by many street names, including:
Methamphetamine is a white, odourless, bitter-tasting powder.
Methamphetamine is not legally available in Canada. It is made in illegal laboratories from cheap ingredients, which are often poisonous or flammable. The drugs made in these laboratories can vary greatly in their strength and purity and there are no guarantees as to what the drug contains.
Cocaine (powder or rock/freebase "crack") or Ecstasy/MDMA or Molly may have similar effects to methamphetamine.
Scroll down for answers to common questions.
Methamphetamine can cause permanent changes in the brain and other parts of the body. It can lead to serious long-term health issues, including:
If someone uses methamphetamine while pregnant, the baby may be born prematurely with low birth weight. The baby may experience methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, such as inability to sleep and poor feeding habits. The symptoms could start within 24 hours and may last from 7-10 days; the chances increase if the drug is used late in the pregnancy. Obstetrician expertise and support is strongly recommended.
Since methamphetamine is a stimulant, people who use this drug often feel like they are more alert and have more energy. They often do not feel the need to eat or sleep.
Methamphetamine affects each person differently, depending on:
In addition to the long-term negative health effects listed above, there are many other possible negative side effects of methamphetamine use, including:
In most cases, the effects of the drug last for about six to eight hours. If methamphetamine is smoked, the effects may last for 10-12 hours. After the drug wears off, the person may often feel very tired and depressed.
A person who is having a toxic reaction to methamphetamine may have one or more of these signs and symptoms:
Create a safe environment for both of you:
Create a quiet, calm environment:
If the person is hearing or seeing things that aren’t there:
Call 911 if:
If someone uses methamphetamine regularly, they will likely become dependent on the drug. When they try to stop using methamphetamine, they may experience symptoms of “withdrawal” from the drug.
For example, the person may feel some of the following:
These symptoms may last a short while or be long term. It is important that others supporting the person watch for mood changes, as the person may have negative thoughts and may think about hurting themselves or have suicidal thoughts in this withdrawal period.
Call 911 if you have an immediate or urgent concern that the person is considering harming themselves. Additional resources are listed below for support and information.
There are several ways to use drugs more safely:
Methamphetamine is often used to enhance sexual experiences. The drugs may be called “Party and Play” or “Chem-Sex.” Chem-Sex can be very dangerous so it is best to avoid it. But if you decide to engage in Chem-Sex, be aware of the risks involved:
Currently there are no medications that will effectively treat addiction to methamphetamine. Some medications may be prescribed to calm people who are using the drug. These medications may help manage short-term withdrawal symptoms as well. However, they have not been shown to reduce long-term use of methamphetamine.
Counselling and other social supports (such as access to safe housing options) are the most effective interventions to help a person address their methamphetamine use.
Other helpful supports include:
These interventions may open the door to connect people with the care and support they need.
It is also important to not stigmatize or judge someone for their substance use. People may be using drugs due to past trauma, loss or a mental or other health concern. Many people use methamphetamine when they do not have supports available to them or a safe place to sleep. Stigma can increase the person’s feelings of isolation and reduce their likelihood of getting the help they need.
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Mental Health Helpline
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Call 811 to speak with a Registered Nurse about your health concerns
Alberta Health Services
If you need help or are concerned with someone else’s substance use, call (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week):
For questions related to addiction and treatment contact Referral, Access, Advice, Placement, Information & Destination (RAAPID) to speak to an expert:
If you need help or are concerned with someone else’s substance use, call:
Health Link at 811 or
1-866-332-2322 the Addiction Helpline
(available 24 hours a day, seven days a week)