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Methamphetamine vs Alcohol | Differences, Similarities, Side Effects and more!

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Methamphetamine and alcohol are two of the most commonly abused substances worldwide, and while they differ greatly in their chemical makeup and effects on the body, they share several similarities. 

Both can be highly addictive and can cause serious physical and mental health problems. In this article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between methamphetamine and alcohol, as well as the potential side effects associated with their use. 

We will also delve into the long-term effects of these substances and the impact they can have on an individual’s quality of life. Whether you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, or you simply want to learn more about the effects of these drugs, this article is a must-read.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, commonly known as “meth,” is a highly addictive and potent stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Methamphetamine is chemically similar to amphetamine, but its effects on the body are more potent and longer-lasting.

Chemical Composition of Methamphetamine

The chemical composition of methamphetamine is C10H15N, meaning it is composed of 10 carbon atoms, 15 hydrogen atoms, and one nitrogen atom. Methamphetamine belongs to a class of drugs called phenethylamines, which are synthetic chemicals that resemble natural substances found in the body, such as adrenaline and dopamine. 

What is Alcohol? 

Alcohol, also known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is a psychoactive substance that is widely consumed as a recreational beverage. It is classified as a depressant drug, meaning it slows down the central nervous system and can cause feelings of relaxation and sedation. 

Alcohol is a legal substance in most countries, but its misuse can lead to a range of health and social problems, including addiction, impaired judgment, and accidents.

Chemical Composition of Alcohol

The chemical composition of alcohol is C2H6O, meaning it is composed of two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. 

Methamphetamine vs. Alcohol: Fact Sheet

Methamphetamine Alcohol
Generic Name meth Alcohol
Drug Type CNS stimulant CNS Depressant
Active Ingredients  pseudoephedrine Ethanol
Used as treatment for: ADHD Killing germs
Available Form(s) Powder and crystals Liquid
Is it a controlled substance? Yes, Schedule II No
Legal Status Illegal Unscheduled
Risk of Withdrawal Effects Yes Yes
Risk of Addiction Yes Yes

Alcohol Dosage and Side Effects:

Alcohol consumption can have a range of side effects on the body, with the severity of these effects dependent on the dosage consumed. Recommended alcohol intake guidelines advise up to one standard drink per day for women and up to two standard drinks per day for men. 

However, exceeding these limits can result in impaired judgment and coordination, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to liver damage and cirrhosis, an increased risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, alcoholic neuropathy, and addiction. 

To minimize the risks associated with alcohol consumption, it’s essential to drink in moderation, know your limits, and seek help if you experience negative side effects or have difficulty controlling your alcohol intake.

Methamphetamine Dosage and Side Effects:

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug that can have significant side effects on the body. The dosage of methamphetamine that a person consumes can have a significant impact on the severity of these effects. 

Methamphetamine is usually taken orally, snorted, smoked, or injected. The appropriate dosage of methamphetamine can vary based on several factors, including the patient’s age, weight, and medical condition. Generally, methamphetamine is taken orally, with doses typically ranging from 2.5mg to 30mg per day, either taken all at once or divided into multiple doses throughout the day. 

However, it’s important to note that the use of methamphetamine is highly discouraged due to the significant risks and potential for addiction and harm to the body and mind. The effects of methamphetamine on the body can include a range of physical and mental symptoms, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, hyperthermia, nausea, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, and aggression. 

Long-term use of methamphetamine can lead to damage to the heart and blood vessels, kidney damage, liver damage, and neurological problems such as memory loss and cognitive impairments. 

Alcohol vs. Methamphetamine: Can You Withdrawal for Either? 

Both alcohol and methamphetamine can lead to withdrawal symptoms when an individual tries to stop using them.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include tremors, sweating, anxiety, nausea, and hallucinations. In severe cases, individuals can experience delirium tremens (DTs), which can lead to seizures, confusion, and high blood pressure when getting off alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening in some cases and requires medical supervision.

Methamphetamine withdrawal can also be challenging, with symptoms such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and intense drug cravings. In some cases, individuals can experience psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. Methamphetamine withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, but it can be difficult to manage without professional support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or experiencing withdrawal symptoms to either alcohol or methamphetamine, it’s essential to seek professional help from a medical or addiction treatment provider. They can provide guidance and support to help manage withdrawal symptoms and start the process of recovery.

Methamphetamine vs Alcohol: Prevalence in the United States

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 20.5 million people aged 12 or older in the United States reported having an alcohol abuse disorder, which represents approximately 7.5% of the population.

In contrast, methamphetamine use is less prevalent, with an estimated 1.9 million people aged 12 or older reporting past-month methamphetamine use in 2020, which represents approximately 0.7% of the population.

However, it’s worth noting that methamphetamine use has been increasing in recent years, with a 43% increase in the number of past-month methamphetamine users between 2015 and 2020, according to NSDUH data.

It’s also important to note that both alcohol and methamphetamine use can have significant consequences, including addiction, health problems, and social and economic costs. It’s essential to prioritize prevention and treatment efforts for both substances to reduce their impact on individuals, families, and communities.

Bottom Line: Methamphetamine versus Alcohol

In conclusion, while alcohol and methamphetamine are different substances with unique effects, they share some common risks and consequences. Both substances can lead to addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and long-term health problems, and both can have significant social and economic costs. 

It’s essential to prioritize prevention efforts and access to treatment for both substances to reduce their impact on individuals, families, and communities. It’s also important to recognize that recovery from addiction is possible but requires professional help and support. Whether someone is struggling with alcohol or methamphetamine use, seeking help and treatment is the first step towards healing and reclaiming one’s life. 

FAQs on Alcohol and Methamphetamine 

Alcohol vs Methamphetamine: Which is more addicting?

Both alcohol and methamphetamine can be highly addictive, and the risk of addiction depends on a range of factors, including genetics, environment, and individual factors such as age, gender, and mental health. However, methamphetamine is generally considered to be more addictive than alcohol due to its powerful stimulant effects and the rapid onset of tolerance and dependence. 

Can you mix alcohol with methamphetamine?

Mixing alcohol with methamphetamine is extremely dangerous and can have serious consequences. Both substances have potent effects on the central nervous system, and combining them can amplify the risk of adverse reactions, including overdose, seizures, and cardiovascular problems. Additionally, the effects of one substance can mask the symptoms of the other, making it difficult to gauge how much of each substance has been consumed. 

Can alcohol or methamphetamine use be treated?

Yes, both alcohol and methamphetamine use can be treated through a combination of medical, behavioral, and social interventions. Treatment options may include detoxification, medication-assisted treatment e.g. using benzodiazepines, counseling, support groups, and other forms of therapy. 


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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