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Methamphetamine

Overview / Extent of Use / Health Effects / Treatment / Arrests & Sentencing / Production & Trafficking / Legislation / Street Terms / Other Links / Sources

Overview

For more information on methamphetamine, visit www.MethResources.gov .

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Methamphetamine users feel a short yet intense "rush" when the drug is initially administered. The immediate effects of methamphetamine include increased activity and decreased appetite. The drug has limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity. 1

Most amphetamines distributed to the black market are produced in clandestine laboratories. Methamphetamine laboratories are, by far, the most frequently encountered clandestine laboratories in the United States. The ease of clandestine synthesis, combined with tremendous profits, has resulted in significant availability of illicit methamphetamine. Large amounts of methamphetamine are also illicitly smuggled into the United States from Mexico. 2

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Extent of Use

According to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 5.77% of the U.S. population aged 12 or older used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes for nonmedical purposes. Further data indicate that past year methamphetamine use was higher in the West (1.6%) than in the Northeast (0.3%), Midwest (0.5%) or South (0.7%) in 2006. The rates of past year use in 2006 were similar to those in 2002 in each respective region. 3

In 2006 there were an estimated 731,000 current users of methamphetamine, aged 12 or older, representing 0.3% of the population. Among persons aged 12 or older, there were 259,000 recent, new users of methamphetamine taken for nonmedical purposes during 2006. These estimates do not differ significantly from estimates for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. 4

Results of the 2007 Monitoring the Future survey indicate that 1.8% of eighth graders, 2.8% of tenth graders, and 3.0% of twelfth graders reported lifetime use of methamphetamine. In 2006, these percentages were 2.7%, 3.2%, and 4.4%, respectively. 5

Percent of Students Reporting Methamphetamine Use, 2006–2007 6

8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade
2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007

Past month

0.6%

0.6%

0.7%

0.4%

0.9%

0.6%

Past year

1.8

1.1

1.8

1.6

2.5

1.7

Lifetime

2.7

1.8

3.2

2.8

4.4

3.0

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys high school students on several risk factors including drug and alcohol use. Results of the 2007 survey indicate that 4.4% of high school students reported using methamphetamine at some point in their lifetimes. This is down from 6.2% in 2005 and 7.6% in 2003. 7

Percent of Students Reporting Lifetime Meth Use, 2003–2007

2003
2005
2007
9th grade
6.7%
5.7%
3.6%
10th grade
7.5
5.9
4.1
11th grade
8.0
6.7
5.4
12th grade
8.0
6.4
4.5
Total
7.6
6.2
4.4

Approximately 2.9% of college students and 7.3% of young adults (ages 19-28) surveyed in 2006 reported lifetime use of methamphetamine. 8

Percent of College Students/Young Adults Using Methamphetamine, 2005–2006

College Students
Young Adults
2005
2006
2005
2006
Past month
0.1%
0.2%
0.7%
0.5%
Past year
1.7
1.2
2.4
1.9
Lifetime
4.1
2.9
8.3
7.3

According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 23.5% of State prisoners and 17.9% of Federal prisoners surveyed in 2004 indicated that they used methamphetamine at some point in their lives. 9

Percent of Prisoners Reporting Methamphetamine Use, 1997 and 2004

State Prisoners
Federal Prisoners
1997
2004
1997
2004
At time of offense
3.5%
6.1%
3.7%
7.2%
In month before offense
6.9
10.8
6.5
10.1
Regularly*
11.2
14.9
9.6
12.8
Ever in lifetime
19.4
23.5
15.1
17.9
* Used drugs at least once a week for at least a month.

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Health Effects

Long-term methamphetamine abuse can cause addiction, anxiety, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Additionally, psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions (such as the sensation of bugs crawling under the user's skin) can occur. The psychotic symptoms can last for months or years after methamphetamine use has ceased. 10

Of an estimated 108 million emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. during 2005, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that 1,449,154 ED visits were associated with drug misuse or abuse. DAWN data indicate that methamphetamine was involved in 108,905 of the drug-related ED visits. 11

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Treatment

From 1996-2006, the number of admissions to treatment in which methamphetamine was the primary drug of abuse increased from 41,045 in 1996 to 149,415 in 2006. Methamphetamine admissions represented 2.5% of the total drug/alcohol admissions to treatment during 1996 and 8.3% of the treatment admissions in 2006. The average age of those admitted to treatment for methamphetamine/amphetamine during 2006 was 31 years. 12

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Arrests & Sentencing

The National Drug Intelligence Center reported 2,597 Federal methamphetamine-related arrests during 2006. This is down from 6,090 such arrests during 2006. 13

During FY 2006, there were 5,395 Federal defendants sentenced for methamphetamine-related charges in U.S. Courts. Approximately 98% of the cases involved methamphetamine trafficking. 14

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Production & Trafficking

Decreased domestic methamphetamine production is reducing wholesale supplies of domestically produced methamphetamine. The decreased production is a result of law enforcement pressure, public awareness campaigns and increased regulation of the sale and use of precursor and essential chemicals used in methamphetamine production. However, decreases in domestic methamphetamine production have been offset by increased production in Mexico. 15

Methamphetamine is easily produced in clandestine laboratories or meth labs using a variety of ingredients available in stores. The manufacturing of methamphetamine is called "cooking". Cooking a batch of meth can be very dangerous due to the fact that the chemicals used are volatile and the by-products are very toxic. Meth labs present a danger to the meth cook, the community surrounding the lab, and the law enforcement personnel who discover the lab. 16

The Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance ( HSEES ) system collects and analyzes data about the public health consequences (e.g., morbidity, mortality, and evacuations) of acute hazardous substance—release events. Of the 40,349 events reported to the HSEES system during January 1, 2000—June 30, 2004, a total of 1,791 (4%) were associated with illicit meth production. Meth events consistently had a higher percentage of persons with injuries than did nonmeth events. Of the 1,791 meth events, 558 (31%) resulted in a total of 947 injured persons. 17

Law enforcement reporting indicates that methamphetamine laboratories have been discovered on Federal lands throughout the United States. Methamphetamine laboratories often are discovered in or near caves, cabins, recreational areas, abandoned mines and private vehicles located on or adjacent to Federal lands. 18

State and Federal precursor chemical restrictions, combined with sustained law enforcement pressure, have reduced domestic methamphetamine production over the past several years. Reported methamphetamine laboratory seizures have decreased sharply each year since 2004; the year that states began implementing strong, retail-level sales restrictions of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products. Moreover, in September 2006 the Federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 became effective nationwide, setting restrictions on the retail sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products. This Act appears to be contributing to continued decreases in domestic methamphetamine production. 19

Number of Reported Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures, 2003-October 11, 2007

Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures
Full Year 2002
9,208
Full Year 2003
10,094
Full Year 2004
9,935
Full Year 2005
5,935
Full Year 2006
4,002
Jan.-Oct 11, 2007
1,802

Although intelligence indicates a decrease in domestic methamphetamine production, Mexican methamphetamine distribution networks are expanding in many U.S. drug markets and have supplanted many local midlevel and retail dealers in areas of the Great Lakes, Pacific, Southeast, Southwest and West Central Regions of the country. Mexico is the primary source of methamphetamine within the United States and methamphetamine production in that country remains high. Moreover, large-scale production of methamphetamine has increased significantly in Canada as outlaw motorcycle gangs and Asian drug trafficking organizations expand their position with respect to methamphetamine production in Canada. 20

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Legislation

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. 21 The chemicals that are used to produce methamphetamine are also controlled under the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 (MCA). This legislation broadened the controls on listed chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine, increased penalties for the trafficking and manufacturing of methamphetamine and listed chemicals, and expanded the controls of products containing the licit chemicals ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine (PPA). 22

Signed in October 2000, the Children's Health Act of 2000 includes provisions dealing with methamphetamine prevention, production, enforcement, treatment and abuse. 23

On March 9, 2006, President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, which includes provisions to strengthen Federal, state, and local efforts to combat the spread of methamphetamine. 24

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Street Terms 25

Bikers Coffee Methlies Quick
Chalk Poor Man's Cocaine
Chicken Feed Shabu
Crank Speed
Crystal Meth Stove Top
Glass Trash
Go-Fast Yellow Bam
Ice

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Other Links

Clandestine Laboratory Investigator's Association
CLIA provides training, technical support, and expert testimony to prosecutors, law enforcement, and emergency services personnel.

Meth360 – Uniting Communities in the Prevention of Meth Abuse
Meth360 unites communities in the prevention of meth abuse. Meth360 teams local law enforcement officers with substance abuse treatment and prevention professionals to co-deliver presentations to educate community members about the dangers of meth and motivate them to take action.

The Methamphetamine Menace (PDF)
This fact sheet highlights the problems associated with methamphetamine and discusses how some States are responding.

Methamphetamine Publications
A listing of methamphetamine-related publications from various sources.

Methamphetamine Treatment Project
The Methamphetamine Treatment Project is a multi-site initiative to study the treatment of methamphetamine dependence.

MethResources.gov
MethResources.gov, is a tool for policymakers, law enforcement officials, treatment and prevention professionals, businesses and retailers, and anti-drug activists. The comprehensive site brings together information and resources available to communities on the topic of methamphetamine.

National Clandestine Laboratory Register
This DEA resource contains addresses of locations where law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals or other items that indicated the presence of either clandestine drug laboratories or dumpsites.

Public Health Legal Preparedness Materials: Methamphetamine Laboratories
This site contains selected State legislation, ordinances, policies, and regulations that relate to methamphetamine laboratories and chemical exposure.

Pushing Back Against Meth: A Progress Report on the Fight Against Methamphetamine in the United States (PDF)
This report surveys the effects of anti-meth action in all 50 States and compares state laws to the Federal standard which was enacted in September 2006 as part of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005.

Synthetic Drug Control Strategy: A Focus on Methamphetamine and Prescription Drug Abuse
This report presents the Administration’s strategy for responding to the illicit use and production of methamphetamine, and the illicit use, or non-medical use, of controlled substance prescription drugs.

Tools for Combating Meth
This Toolkit contains guidebooks addressing issues such as clandestine drug labs, drug dealing in open-air markets and privately owned apartment complexes and identity theft.

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Sources

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction , September 2006

2 Drug Enforcement Administration, Drugs of Abuse , 2005

3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings , September 2007

4 Ibid.

5 National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of Michigan, 2007 Monitoring the Future Study Drug Data Tables, December 2007

6 Ibid.

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance: Youth Online: Comprehensive Results

8 National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2006, Volume II: College Students & Adults Ages 19–45 (PDF), 2007

9 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004 , October 2006

10 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction , September 2006

11 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2005: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits , February 2007

12 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlights—2006 , February 2008

13 National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2008 , October 2007

14 U.S. Sentencing Commission, 2006 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics , 2007

15 National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2008 , October 2007

16 Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series No. 16 , Clandestine Drug Labs (PDF), April 2002

17 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Acute Public Health Consequences of Methamphetamine Laboratories—16 States, January 2000–June 2004 , April 2005

18 National Drug Intelligence Center, Marijuana and Methamphetamine Trafficking on Federal Lands Threat Assessment , February 2005

19 National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2008 , October 2007

20 Ibid.

21 Drug Enforcement Administration, Methamphetamine: Legislation

22 Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, Provisions of the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996

23 Government Printing Office, Public Law 106-310 , October 2000

24 Government Printing Office, USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-177) , March 2006

25 Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, Street Terms: Drugs and the Drug Trade
Methamphetamine Terms

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