Amphetamines describe the category, or drug class, that includes both amphetamine and methamphetamine. While the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) requirements include MDMA under the group “amphetamines,” laboratory testing typically requires a separate, specific test. Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that cause a reaction of increased energy and alertness and then exhaustion as the effects wear off. Excessive and long-term use can produce physical effects such as disorientation, severe depression, paranoia, hallucinations, increased blood pressure and fatigue.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine may be mistaken as the same drug, but they are not. Below is some information specific to each unique drug.
Amphetamine is a stimulant and an appetite suppressant that stimulates the central nervous system by increasing the release of certain chemicals (“neurotransmitters”) in the brain. It is a Schedule II drug that can be prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Physical symptoms can include restlessness, tremors, rapid breathing, confusion, panic and seizures. Because of the potential for abuse and addiction, physicians prefer using other treatment methods. Common trade names of amphetamine-containing drugs are Adderall®, Dexedrine® and Vyvanse®.
Methamphetamine, sometimes called meth, crystal, crank and ice, is an extremely addictive stimulant drug. It can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, even small amounts of methamphetamine can cause increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure. Repeated methamphetamine use may lead to anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, skin sores, severe dental problems (referred to as “meth mouth”) and addiction. While often thought of as only an illicit drug made in clandestine laboratories, methamphetamine is also available by prescription for limited medical uses (treatment of obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) under the trade name of Desoyxn®.
Employers can screen applicants and employees to help to deter drug use and keep their workplaces drug-free.