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What’s the Difference Between Meth and Crystal Meth?

Small pile of methamphetamine crystals with blue glass meth pipe  

Methamphetamine (also known as meth, crank or chalk) is a stimulant drug that creates feelings of power and energy. While it has a few medical uses, it is most often used illegally as a street drug. Crystal meth (often called ice, speed or glass) is the same substance as meth and creates a similar high. However, crystal meth is stronger and initiates longer-lasting highs. While a meth high may last for a couple of hours, crystal meth’s effects can be felt for up to 24 hours. In 2018, about 0.7% of high school seniors said they had tried meth, and 1.1% said that they had used crystal meth at some point in their lives. Teen use of crystal meth has decreased in recent years compared to past decades.

Powder Meth vs. Crystal Meth Appearance

The regular form of meth comes as a white powder or as a pill. It is often mixed with similar-looking substances to make the drug appear more plentiful. In contrast, crystal meth looks like rocks, glass or crystals. It is often shiny and may be clear, white or blue-tinged. The crystal form is also purer than regular meth: it’s more difficult for dealers to cut it with other substances.

How Meth and Crystal Meth are Used

Meth is taken in several different ways. Pills are taken orally, while powdered methamphetamine is often snorted or smoked. Meth smoking paraphernalia often includes small glass pipes that a person can use to heat and vaporize the powder. Teens may also dissolve the powder into water or alcohol and then inject it. Crystal meth is typically smoked. Some people also melt the rocks and then inject the liquid. Therefore, burnt spoons, tourniquets, and needles may all be used as crystal meth paraphernalia.

Methamphetamine Effects

Whether in powder or crystal form, methamphetamine effects include:

  • Feelings of euphoria or happiness
  • Feelings of confidence or invincibility
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sores on the skin
  • Teeth grinding
  • Rotting, blackened or missing teeth
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Sleeping problems

Teens can develop long-term side effects from crystal meth such as heart problems or damage to their kidneys, liver, lungs or brain. Eventually, meth can cause heart attacks or strokes which can be fatal. Though meth users may feel like they can focus better, meth harms the brain. People who use meth over long periods of time may have hallucinations, problems with concentration, memory loss and difficulty learning new things.

Contact Next Generation Village if your teen is dealing with meth addiction. Most people can’t stop using meth on their own, but doctors can help you achieve sobriety. Chat with us today to learn more about treatment options.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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