What Type of Drug is Meth?

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Methamphetamine — or meth, as it is commonly known — is a potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system causing a rapid release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. The result is an intense surge of pleasure (euphoria) and hyper-alertness.

While meth has some medical uses — most notably, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity  — the euphoria it provides and the ease of manufacture make it subject to widespread abuse.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with a dependence on meth or any other substance, Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

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Classification of Meth & Its Illegal Drug Variants

Meth is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it is considered dangerous and has a high potential for abuse that can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1971 defined drug scheduling in hopes of creating an effective system for controlling the availability of potentially dangerous substances by limiting access through regulation. The production, sale, and possession of Schedule II drugs are strictly regulated. But illicit manufacture of this drug is common in clandestine laboratories across the country and abroad, making it readily available on the street for recreational users.

Criteria for Classifying Drugs as Schedule II Substances

The CSA divides drugs into five schedules based on their medical use and potential for addiction. Schedule I drugs have no medical value. When prescribing Schedule II to V drugs, doctors must follow specific protocols to reduce the chances of addiction or overdose.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These substances are considered the most dangerous class of controlled substances because they have a high potential for addiction and abuse.

Schedule II

Drugs that fall under Schedule II have a high potential for abuse that could lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Doctors may prescribe them in limited amounts. Schedule II drugs are subject to stricter requirements than other schedules when prescribing, dispensing, and managing them.

Methamphetamine is classified as Schedule II controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning it has an accepted medical use but a high potential for abuse and dependence.

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone (Vicodin) per dose, cocaine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin are also considered Schedule II drugs.

There is currently only one legal methamphetamine product, Desoxyn, which has minimal use in treating obesity and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Schedule III

A Schedule III drug has accepted medical uses and a moderate to low physical and psychological dependence potential. Schedule III drugs include products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose (such as Tylenol with Codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, and certain barbiturates.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs are substances with a low potential for abuse and dependence. Tramadol, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Ativan all fall under Schedule IV. The substances may be prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, or muscle spasms.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs have accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse and dependence. Certain cough medicines containing small amounts of codeine, certain anti-diarrheal medications, and Lyrica (pregabalin) fall under this schedule. They are subject to the fewest when it comes to prescribing, dispensing, and managing them.

Do Schedule II Substances Have Medical Uses?

By definition, Schedule II substances have medical use but also come with a high potential for abuse and dependence. A drug must have large-scale clinical trials to back it up to have medical value.

Misuse of Schedule II substances can result in severe physical and psychological harm that may require professional rehabilitation services, like those offered at Guardian Recovery, to overcome.

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Common Symptoms of Stimulants & Other Schedule II Drugs

The physical effects of stimulants depend upon many factors, such as:

  • The type of stimulant taken.
  • How it was taken (swallowing, snorting, injecting, etc.).
  • Dose.
  • Substance purity.
  • Pattern of use.
  • Other substances are also being taken.
  • Any behavioral and physical comorbidities.

The most common medical issues include cardiovascular and respiratory problems, stroke, muscular and kidney issues, digestive problems, and infections, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Common behavioral disorders include psychosis, depression, hypervigilance, and anxiety.

Symptoms of Meth Misuse

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant derived from another stimulant — amphetamine. If you take meth, you will initially feel a sense of euphoria. Meth increases wakefulness and the urge to move but suppresses the appetite. Other short-term symptoms include:

  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Increased rate of breathing.

Meth misuse can have a severe impact on the brain. It can cause changes in normal dopamine production by disrupting the pleasure-seeking portion of the brain’s reward system. The increased feelings of euphoria can lead to intense cravings and compulsive behaviors.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense cravings.
  • Depression.
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Irritability,
  • Aggression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Hypersomnia (sleeping too much or too little).
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure).

Overdoses of the drug can result in dangerously high body temperature and convulsions, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Legal Classifications for Methamphetamine and Other Substances

From a legal standpoint, drugs are separated into three classes based on their dangers and impact on society.

Class A drugs: heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD.

Class B drugs: speed, cannabis, ketamine, mephedrone, methamphetamine, and some amphetamines.

Class C drugs: anabolic steroids, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), and some tranquilizers.

A third category, “Temporary Class Drug Banning Orders,” are for new psychoactive substances (NPS), sometimes known as “legal highs.” These substances are designed to mimic illicit drugs like cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Manufacturers develop new chemicals to replace the ones banned, constantly changing their chemical structure to circumvent the law.

The ban allows for prohibiting a new substance until it is analyzed to determine the potential risk to human health.

Legal consequences for illicit possession and/or selling any of these substances can vary by state or be a federal crime if they are transported between states.

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Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant with some medical uses but is also highly addictive. It acts on the central nervous system by causing it to release large quantities of dopamine. Continued use can disrupt brain function, cause cardiovascular and pulmonary issues, and lead to overdose and death. If you or someone you care about is dependent on methamphetamine, the experienced and compassionate medical, clinical, and administrative staff at Guardian Recovery are ready to help. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. We will guide you through every step of your recovery from your first call and throughout your recovery. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you have to do is ask for help; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://www.iwu.edu/counseling/Federal_Drug_Laws.htm
  3. https://www.justia.com/criminal/offenses/drug-crimes/drug-trafficking/
  4. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/new-psychoactive-substances/
  5. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/drugs-and-crime
  6. https://www.hhs.gov/guidance/sites/default/files/hhs-guidance-documents/partdmanual_chapter6.pdf

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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