Methamphetamine, a powerful and addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system, may be hitting closer to your home or community than you would like to think. Used mostly in Hawaii and the Southwest region of the United States during the early 1990s, the drug’s popularity has spread across the nation to both urban and rural areas.

Perhaps methamphetamine’s growing popularity. Methamphetamine is commonly known as “speed,” “meth,” or “chalk.” In its smoked form, it is often referred to as “ice,” “crystal,” “crank,” or “glass.” Like amphetamine, it causes increased activity, decreased appetite, and a general sense of well-being. The effects of methamphetamine can last 6 to 8 hours. After the initial “rush,” there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior. Although meth may not be as frequently used as alcohol or marijuana, this is not a drug to overlook when talking to children about drugs or educating your community. Twelve million people aged 12 or older have tried methamphetamine at least once, according to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings.

Teenagers have increasingly started to use the drug, especially after the popularity of raves and all-night dance parties returned in the mid to late 1990s. Meth allows partygoers to keep up with the high energy beat of the music and stay up for days at a time.

Methamphetamine isn’t used just as a party drug. Some people use it to cope with the stress of work, school, and extra-curricular activities, or issues with family and friends. Because of the drug’s ability to curb hunger and fight fatigue, many females are attracted to it as a dietary aide and students may turn to it to help them stay awake while studying.

Community members and parents should be on the lookout for suspicious activities that could signal methamphetamine production or abuse. Here are some warning signs:

  • Many different people frequenting a house during all hours of the day
  • A large supply of pharmaceuticals or toxic chemicals such as cough suppressants, anti-freeze, drain cleaner, and fertilizers bought very periodically
  • Peculiar smells similar to nail polish remover or cat urine
  • Irritability, mood swings, lack of sleep, aggressive behavior, loss of appetite, and repetitious behavior.

Public health officials encourage parents and other adult caregivers to talk with children about the risks of using methamphetamine. To find out more about the drug or signs to look for in your children and neighborhood, go to or visit the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s The Anti-Drug Web site at