Methamphetamine and other stimulants
In 2018, 167 Minnesotans died from a psychostimulant-involved (e.g., methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth) drug overdose. Psychostimulant-involved drug overdose deaths increased 4 percent from 2017 to 2018. Statewide, psychostimulant-involved drug overdose deaths have increased over the last 10 years.
There were also 350 emergency room visits for nonfatal methamphetamine and prescription amphetamine overdoses combined in 2017, which is a 14 percent increase from 2016. This increase in visits was seen in both the Seven-county Metro and greater Minnesota.
Substance use disorder treatment facility admissions for methamphetamine across Minnesota have also increased annually since 2009. Over 14,500 Minnesotans were admitted into substance use disorder treatment programs to address methamphetamine misuse in 2017. For reference, there were 1,570 treatment admissions for methamphetamine in 2000, and 6,861 treatment admissions for methamphetamine in 2005.
What are stimulants?
Psychostimulants, more commonly known as stimulants, are a category of prescription medications and illicit substances that increase energy and attention and decrease appetite.
Prescription stimulants such as amphetamine (brand name Adderall) and methylphenidate (brand name Ritalin) address the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When taken as prescribed, prescription stimulants can increase a person living with ADHD’s ability to pay attention and focus on tasks. When misused, for example by taking doses higher or more frequently than prescribed, prescription stimulants have the potential to lead to substance use disorder.
Illicit stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine are potent substances with high potential for psychological or physical dependence. They produce increased feelings of energy, euphoria, and suppressed appetite.
What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth or crystal meth, typically comes in the form of a white crystal-like ‘rock’ or powder. Methamphetamine is most commonly used by smoking, snorting, and injection. Common street names for methamphetamine include crank, crystal, ice, and speed.
Over 1.5 million U.S. residents consumed methamphetamine in 2017, and over 5 percent of the U.S. population have tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime.
Potential harms from methamphetamine misuse
Methamphetamine and other stimulant use can lead to serious health issues.
- Increased energy
- Suppressed appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Other serious cardiovascular issues
When consumed in high amounts, a methamphetamine overdose may occur. Signs of a methamphetamine overdose can include, but are not limited to:
- Hyperthermia (excessively hot body temperature)
- Labored breathing
- Extreme agitation
- Substance use disorder
- Serious mental health effects, including anxiety, paranoia, delusion, and violent behavior
- Physical health harms, including tooth decay and excessive weight loss
Withdrawal can occur when someone who uses methamphetamine stops consuming it. Symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include methamphetamine craving, depression, and fatigue.
When methamphetamine is consumed by smoking, sharing used and unsterile smoking equipment (most commonly called a ‘pipe’) can spread infectious diseases such as hepatitis C. When consumed by injection, sharing syringes and other injection equipment can spread infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C.
When methamphetamine is consumed alongside opioids or alcohol, its energizing effects can ‘mask’ the sedative effects of opioid and alcohol consumption. This can lead to increased vulnerability for both opioid and alcohol-attributed drug overdose.
Reduce the harms associated with methamphetamine misuse
For those who use methamphetamine and are not ready to seek treatment and recovery supports, there are practical strategies that can reduce the risk of harm. If smoking methamphetamine, use a sterile pipe, and do not share pipes with others. If injecting methamphetamine, use new and sterile injection equipment, and do not share any injection equipment with others.
In Minnesota, methamphetamine has been found to be laced with (adulterated, mixed with, containing) fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. Because of this, it is recommended that any person who uses methamphetamine should carry naloxone to be prepared for a drug overdose emergency. Opioids cause respiratory depression, or trouble breathing. Methamphetamine laced with opioids sharply increases the risk of a drug overdose.
Harm reduction services and educational resources
A Syringe Service Program (SSP) provides services to reduce the harms associated with drug use, and prevent HIV and viral hepatitis infections.
Visit the Minnesota Syringe Exchange Calendar to find a SSP in your region.
Fact Sheet: Reducing Harms Associated with Substance Use Disorder through Syringe Services and Syringe Access (PDF)
Fact Sheet: Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention (PDF)
Substance use disorder treatment and recovery supports
Although medications have proven effective in treating some substance use disorders, there are currently no medications that counteract the specific effects of methamphetamine, or that prolong abstinence from and reduce the use of methamphetamine by an individual addicted to the drug.
Visit the Department of Human Services (DHS) Fast Tracker for a statewide searchable database of substance use disorder and mental health treatment openings.
Minnesota Syringe Exchange Calendar
SSPs provide participants seeking treatment and recovery supports with referrals to culturally-responsive treatment services in their region. Visit the Minnesota Syringe Exchange Calendar to find locations and their dates and times of service.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 if you are having thoughts of suicide.
Suicide Prevention Materials and Resources
Drug Overdose Deaths Among Minnesota Residents, 2000-2018
Commonly Abused Drugs - Prescription Stimulants (NIDA)
Misuse of Prescription Drugs (NIDA)
Please visit the Opioid Dashboard for more information on drug overdose death, nonfatal overdose, use, misuse, substance use disorder, prescribing practices, supply, diversion, harm reduction, co-occurring conditions, and social determinants of health.