Blog - Methamphetamine matters

Methamphetamine in textbook

Community use of amphetamine-type stimulants has been shown in research studies and several government reports to be increasing and there are significant harms associated with use of these drugs. Detections in workplaces seem to be relatively stable, with confirmed positive test results reported at around 1% to 3% of all workers tested depending on industry sector, state or territory, and the fluid sampled (oral fluid or urine).The stability of the rate of detection in workplaces may be attributed to a range of factors including (a) the deterrent nature of drug and alcohol testing programs in workplaces, and (b) the attrition of drug-using workers from workforces as a result of positive detections.

However, considering the nature of amphetamine-type stimulants, it is useful to revisit some of the basic facts surrounding workplace drug detection:

  1. Although some medicines, such as pseudoephedrine and phentermine may give an on-site non-negative test result to amphetamine-type stimulants with most immunoassay-based devices, the laboratory confirmation of drug identity and concentration is certain. That is, if methamphetamine or methamphetamine are confirmed by LCMS, then it is absolutely certain to be these drugs and none other.
  2. There are NO medicines in Australia that contain methamphetamine, although some contain dexamphetamine (also known as d-amphetamine) and are prescription-only for conditions, such as ADHD or narcolepsy.
  3. Methamphetamine is metabolised in the body to form amphetamine, so using amphetamine will result in amphetamine only in urine and oral fluid. Using Methamphetamine will cause both amphetamine and methamphetamine to be detected in various ratios.
  4. Amphetamine is NOT metabolised to methamphetamine in the body.
  5. When amphetamine medication is declared (and a prescription is held) then any methamphetamine present is illicit.

It is possible to differentiate between legally obtained (prescription) amphetamine and illicit amphetamine.  Prescription amphetamine is entirely dexamphetamine (d-amphetamine) whereas illegally produced amphetamine is a mixture of d- amphetamine and l-amphetamine (levoamphetamine). Similarly, methamphetamine results in the formation of a mixture of d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine. Clearly, a test that distinguishes between the two forms of amphetamine will indicate the potential source of the amphetamine consumed. While this test is not in routine use, it can be used in cases where there is a dispute of laboratory findings by specimen donors. As new and emerging analytical methods become more widely available, we will see greater sophistication in their use in workplace drug testing.

Boilerplate John