Amphetamine vs. Methamphetamine - ARISE Treatment Center

Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase activity in the central nervous system.[1] Both amphetamines and methamphetamine are considered to be stimulant drugs. However, there are some key differences between amphetamine and methamphetamine that you should be aware of.

Typically, prescription amphetamines are used to treat conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While methamphetamine can also be used to treat this condition, it is most often created illegally and distributed on the street. Both prescription amphetamines and methamphetamine can be abused and lead to life-threatening substance use disorders.

What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamines are synthetic substances that increase activity in your central nervous system through chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine. Certain amphetamines like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are mainly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy.[2]

While amphetamines can be useful in medicinal settings, they are often abused for their euphoric and energetic high. Additionally, people may abuse these substances to experience fast weight loss or cope with high-stress jobs.

Amphetamine abuse can cause:[2]

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased blood flow and blood sugar
  • Irregular heartbeat and heart failure
  • A rush of euphoria
  • Increased energy and wakefulness
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Anxiety or aggression
  • Paranoia and panic
  • Development of psychosis

If you are taking prescription amphetamines for any reason other than to treat a diagnosed condition, you are abusing them. Amphetamine abuse can lead to a variety of adverse effects, including an increased risk of life-threatening overdoses.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that increases activity in your central nervous system. While this substance is available by prescription, it is rarely prescribed because of its potential for abuse. Additionally, most people who abuse methamphetamine are buying it off of the street, where it is impossible to determine its purity and safety for consumption.

Typically, methamphetamine found on the street contains amphetamine mixed with a variety of household chemicals like drain cleaner, battery acid, paint thinner, or lighter fluid. As a result, abusing methamphetamine is incredibly dangerous and may lead to a variety of physical and mental health issues.

The effects of methamphetamine abuse may include:[3]

  • Increased energy and attention
  • Increased wakefulness and decreased need for sleep
  • Decreased appetite, weight loss, and eventually malnourishment
  • A rush of euphoria
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Anxiety, paranoia, and aggressive behavior
  • The development of psychosis

The Main Differences Between Amphetamines and Methamphetamine

While amphetamines and methamphetamine affect the brain in a similar manner, there are many differences to be aware of. The main difference between the two is amphetamines are commonly prescribed to children and adults, while methamphetamine is sparingly prescribed because the risks outweigh the benefits.

Amphetamines are legal to possess and use with a prescription. Methamphetamine use is prohibited and illegal aside from the rare chance of obtaining a prescription for Desoxyn. To add, most methamphetamine found in America is manufactured illegally.

Lastly, prescription amphetamines have been proven effective in treating conditions like ADHD and helping people improve their lives. Methamphetamine is almost always extremely damaging to a person’s physical and mental health.

Recognizing Stimulant Addiction

While prescription amphetamines are better tolerated than methamphetamine, both substances can be habit-forming and addictive. If you are addicted to amphetamine or methamphetamine, this is known as having a stimulant use disorder. Being aware of the signs of stimulant addiction can help you determine whether it is time to get treatment.

The signs of stimulant addiction include:[4]

  • Taking stimulants in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended
  • Running out of prescriptions early or going to multiple doctors to receive more than one prescription
  • Stealing from friends or loved ones to obtain stimulants
  • Buying stimulant drugs off of the street
  • Having a persistent desire to quit stimulant use but being unable to
  • Experiencing cravings or urges to abuse stimulants
  • Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from stimulants
  • Using stimulants in risky situations, such as while driving or drinking alcohol
  • Continuing to abuse stimulants despite facing adverse physical or psychological effects
  • Becoming unable to meet responsibilities or facing problems at work, school, or in the home
  • Experiencing interpersonal issues because of your stimulant use
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities because of stimulant use
  • Developing a tolerance for stimulants
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you do not use stimulants

Find Help for Stimulant Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one are addicted to a stimulant like amphetamines or methamphetamine, it’s time to seek help. Professional addiction treatment programs like Arise Treatment Center can provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term recovery.

To learn more about our stimulant addiction treatment programs, please contact us today.


  1. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Stimulants, Retrieved October 2023 From
  2. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Prescription Stimulants, Retrieved October 2023 From
  3. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What are the Immediate (short-term) Effects of Methamphetamine Misuse, Retrieved October 2023 From
  4. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Stimulant Use Disorder, Retrieved October 2023 From


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