The drug methamphetamine became a household name following the hit American TV series Breaking Bad, and although it is not as common in the UK, methamphetamine addiction is a big problem for Australia.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a white, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water. It was first developed from amphetamine in 1893 by a Japanese chemist, and its salt – methamphetamine hydrochloride, or ‘crystal meth’ – was first made in 1919. As the branded tablet Pervitin, it was extensively used by the German troops during the Second World War as a stimulant and to help them stay awake and alert. In the United States, it was used as a treatment for obesity in the 1950s, under the brand name Obetrol, and is still licenced there – under the brand name Desoxyn – for use as a treatment for obesity and ADHD.

Closely related to amphetamine, methamphetamine has very similar effects to amphetamine, engendering feelings of euphoria, increased confidence, increased energy and chattiness, and a reduction in appetite. Methamphetamine is much more potent though because at similar doses to amphetamine, more of the methamphetamine is able to cross over into the brain. The effects of methamphetamine are also longer lasting, and it causes more damage to the nervous system.

How Big a Problem Is Methamphetamine in Australia?

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia early in 2016 showed that there was 268,000 people in that country dependant on the drug, or using it regularly. This was three times the estimated number of users five years previously, a massive increase. In the fifteen-to-twenty-four-year-old age group, the number of regular and dependent users had more than doubled in that time, from 21,000 to 59,000. This is a particularly worrying statistic, as this age group is the one most likely to represent new users of the drug, due to the ages. Methamphetamine is now the most commonly used illegal drug in Australia.

Police in Melbourne, in the south-eastern Australian state of Victoria, recently seized the largest ever amount of methamphetamine in the country. The drugs, which had been smuggled into Australia from China hidden inside wooden floorboards stacked in shipping boxes, were found in a Melbourne warehouse. The haul of the drug weighed a total of 903 kilogrammes, almost a tonne of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of £550 million. The police say that they know who the syndicate that supplied the drugs are and that they originated from somewhere in Asia. Australian police work in close collaboration with China’s National Narcotics Bureau, a partnership that has so far prevented 7.5 tonnes of drugs from ending up on Australia’s streets.

The level of methamphetamine use in Australia also has a serious impact on children. A recent report by the Australian Child Safety Minister, Shannon Fentiman, said that around sixty per cent of the children of amphetamine addicts are suffering from neglect. She said, “We are seeing increased levels of harmful neglect where Queensland parents are using crystal meth or ice regularly”. Cases that required her department to intervene involved children turning up at school hungry, dirty and without clean clothes, or where they had received reports of young children being left alone for extended periods of time. The information was obtained from a study of four hundred cases from September 2015 to September 2016 where child protection was required. The study is part of research into the growing problem of drug use in parents. Mandatory testing of parents suspected of using drugs, brought in after the tragic death of a toddler, resulted in sixty per cent of those tested showing as positive for methamphetamine use. Any parent who tests positive for methamphetamine use will have their children taken into care, so serious is the effect of addiction to this drug. Almost fifty per cent of the children currently in foster care in Queensland came from parents who were using methamphetamine, more than those who came from parents with alcohol problems.

These reports show that methamphetamine is a severe problem Down Under. With the use of the drug still rising, and dealers willing to risk importing such large quantities, the issue is likely to become worse. Although methamphetamine is not currently very popular in the UK, the concern is that its use could increase here too.

So How Addictive Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, particularly in the form of ‘crystal meth’ is highly addictive, with some users reportedly becoming addicted after their first use. It has been said that methamphetamine is as addictive as crack cocaine, and crystal meth is used in a similar way. It is difficult to quantify exactly how addictive any particular drug is as different users will have different experiences depending on their metabolism and personality. However, there is no doubt whatsoever that methamphetamine is a very addictive drug, with some people saying that a methamphetamine addiction is the most difficult to treat.

I Have a Methamphetamine Problem – Where Can I Find Help?

Firstly, well done for facing up to your issues with methamphetamine, this is one of the most difficult steps in overcoming addiction, so you have taken the first steps to recovery already.

At Addiction Helper, we have experienced advisors who are available twenty-four hours a day. We can give you free advice, and help you to find the treatment option best suited to your needs, so please call us now.


  1. (The Telegraph) Australian police make ‘largest ever’ methamphetamine seizure
  2. (The Courier Mail) The Children of Parents Addicted to Methamphetamine Suffer Severe Neglect
  3. (Drug Abuse) What is methamphetamine?
  4. (ABC) Methamphetamine use in Australia tripled in past five years, research shows