The purpose of this report is to explain the effects of methamphetamine on the brain and therefore sports performance. Methamphetamine, or ice as it is more commonly known, is an extremely common and addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system and can severely affect a person's sports performance. Regular use of ice can lead to many changes in sports performance including alertness, decreased sense of fatigue, mood elevation and increased self confidence. Regular use can also damage the brain's reward system making it so that the user can’t feel the normal everyday feelings without using methamphetamine further altering sports performance.
As it is, ice is already a major problem in society without being used to enhance sports performance. Ice is most commonly used amongst 18-25 year olds, when athletes of any level are generally starting their sporting careers. Methamphetamine is not usually taken at a party but rather in privacy or with only a couple of friends.
This report will provide information on how methamphetamine is synthesised and the chemical properties of the drug, as well as providing information explicitly about how the drug collaborates with the brain and the devastation it can cause to a user’s sports performance.


Methamphetamine can be made in many different ways, but one way it is produced is called the Nagai method. In this method the raw materials involved are ephedrine, hydroiodic acid and red phosphorus. The methods starting product is ephedrine which is reacted with hydroiodic acid to form iodoephedrine. The iodoephedrine then undergoes a reduction reaction with red phosphorus to create methamphetamine and phosphorus triiodide. 

Figure 1 Nagai method of production of methamphetamines. Retrieved from: 

The molecular formula of methamphetamine is C10H15N, its molecular weight is 149.237 g/mol and the systematic name of methamphetamine is (2S)-N-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine. The structure of methamphetamine contains two methyl groups and a secondary amine. A secondary amine is fairly rare and means that it is bonded to two organic substituents and one hydrogen. So in the case of methamphetamine, one substituent is the chain of carbons and the other is a methyl group. Methyl groups are very common functional groups that can be found in a lot of organic molecules.
Methamphetamine comes in clear chunky crystals resembling ice and is normally smoked.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that is highly addictive and affects the central nervous system. 
Once ice enters the bloodstream the brain receives a signal and many factors come into play. A neurotransmitter and catalyst that triggers immediate response, epinephrine, is released and tells the heart to pump more blood all over the body. This causes an accelerated heart rate and an increase to blood pressure.
Methamphetamine can be smoked, injected, ingested or snorted. Depending on how the drug is administered, the effects on the body will change. The first way is when methamphetamine is smoked or inhaled it reaches the brain very quickly. This is because the drug goes straight to the lungs where it is then delivered to the left ventricle in the heart. From there the drug is then pumped through the aorta and then around the body, meaning it will reach the brain very quickly.
Secondly, if ice is injected then the user will get an immediate sense of elation. When methamphetamine is injected it will have a higher concentration in the brain than when it is smoked or snorted. However, if methamphetamine is ingested orally then the rate at which it enters the bloodstream is very slow. The reason that it is so slow is that the methamphetamine has to travel through the digestive system to the small intestine. Once at the small intestine it is then absorbed into the bloodstream after a very slow process. The concentration of ice in the brain after it has been ingested is the lowest out of the four ways that methamphetamine can be taken. This is because enzymes in the stomach such as pepsin metabolize the molecular structure of methamphetamine before it can reach the brain.
When the nervous system comes into contact with methamphetamine, neurotransmitters are unable to be reabsorbed into the pre-synaptic neuron. This is because ice closes the passages that chemicals are taken up through. Because of this neurotransmitters flood the synapse and constantly trigger responses in the post-synaptic neuron. In specific dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine are the neurotransmitters that are affected by methamphetamine.
The neurotransmitter that is liable for feelings of pleasure, pain and several other emotional responses is dopamine. Dopamine is also responsible for movement and therefore if there is too much dopamine the individual could experience uncontrollable, repetitive movements such as twitching. When methamphetamine reaches the brain it causes neurons to secrete too much dopamine meaning the synapse becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter. 
The next neurotransmitter that methamphetamine affects is serotonin which is responsible for things such as mood, sleep and sexual desire. When an increase in serotonin occurs the person will be less hungry, not as tired and become more aggressive. Ice users can also be observed displaying these characteristics as they are not as tired and have a decreased appetite. Unfortunately for users this can lead to significant weight loss and lets them stay awake for longer. Like dopamine, methamphetamine doesn’t allow the reuptake of serotonin, once again flooding the synapse. Unlike dopamine however, meth does not cause serotonin to be deposited into the synapse. Once the user begins to crash the serotonin levels drop below average and the user will begin to feel tired, hungry and have mood swings.
The third and final neurotransmitter that ice affects is epinephrine. Epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline, has the ability to increase blood pressure and heart rate. It is also responsible for the generally known fight-or-flight response. The re-uptake of epinephrine to the pre-synaptic cleft is stopped by the presence of methamphetamine. This causes the user to be exposed to a quicker heart rate and higher blood pressure. In the long term this can have drastic effects on the cardiovascular system.


Methamphetamine can be used by athletes to increase alertness and excitement for an upcoming event. For people who are exercising methamphetamine poses a severe risk as it can put a lot of strain on the heart. Post exercise ice users find it hard to cool down. In turn, this can cause dehydration, reducing blood circulation. So to get the blood around the body the heart has to work a lot harder. As there is little or no fluids the body cannot cool down by sweating so the cycle is repeated until the blood gets so thick that the heart gives up. Water loss is another risk that athletes are faced with if they use methamphetamine. This is because methamphetamine may cause the user to be unaware of fatigue as they sweat less than normal. Subsequently this could lead to heat stroke.
After using stimulants in combination with exercise some high profile athletes have died. Tommy Simpson, a British cyclist, died in 1967 after complications involving amphetamine use in the Tour de France. 
Methamphetamine does not create any extra physical or mental energy. Instead, ice is known to distort the users awareness of the real world and damage judgement. In turn this could cause an athlete to perform while they are injured, possibly leading to worse injuries or putting others in danger. Methamphetamine can also be used to decrease appetite so an athlete can reduce body weight.
Luckily for all of the clean athletes amphetamines are included in all sport related drug tests and are easily detected in urine. As methamphetamine is usually used to enhance performance rather than training, it is most likely to be detected on the day of the event. Methamphetamine can be exposed 2 to 4 days after use.
Methamphetamine carries a high probability of dependency. As an example, animals from a laboratory were tested and found that they would self administer ice until they died. However, if a user directly withdrawals from the use of methamphetamine then they may face intense fatigue, drowsiness and even depression. That means that any athlete that uses ice once, or is dependent on it, is putting their future in jeopardy. While methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs, it is still unclear of whether it is physically or mentally addictive. What is known is that constant chronic use of ice destroys sports performance in the long run. 


In this report many things have been covered about methamphetamine. They are how ice is made, the chemical properties of methamphetamine, How it enters the bloodstream, and how the brain is affected by methamphetamine. On top of that how methamphetamine affects sports performance has also been covered. Methamphetamine affects the brain by stopping the re-uptake of three neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine. This tricks the brain into thinking that ice is needed for the user to survive, and therefore leads to the user getting addicted.
Sports performance is affected by methamphetamine in a couple of different ways. One way is that it can put a lot of strain on the heart. This is because dehydration can be caused which reduces blood circulation. Therefore, to get the blood around to the rest of the body the heart has to work a lot harder than usual. As there is little or no fluids sweating is not an option for the body to cool down. This causes the blood to get thicker and thicker until the heart gives up.
The second way that methamphetamine affects sports performance is that it does not create any extra physical or mental energy. Rather, ice is known to distort the users awareness of the real world and damage judgement. In turn this could cause an athlete to keep performing even though they are injured. 

Public Education Piece

For my public education piece I made a brochure to advise the general public of the information showed in this report.


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