Methamphetamine, “meth” or “crystal meth” is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and a member of the amphetamine class of drugs. It is a synthetic (or man-made) drug with the chemical formula C 1 0 H 1 5 N that can be taken orally (swallowed), inhaled (snorted), smoked or injected. Methamphetamine is used clinically in the treatment of narcolepsy, hyperkinesia, and for blood pressure maintenance in some individuals, however it can be produced illegally using a combination of common household chemicals and over-the-counter cold remedies, and is widely abused as an illicit drug.
Meth may range in color from white to brown; pink to red or in various shades of yellow or green. Meth can come in pill form, powder or chunks. Common street names for meth include: “speed”, “chalk”, “ice”, “crystal”, “crank” and “glass.” Crystal meth resembles rock candy, or chunks of ice or crystal.
Meth History and Production
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a highly addictive synthetic drug derived from amphetamines – originally indicated to treat attention deficits and assist with severe weight problems. Amphetamines were introduced around WWII, and phased out around the 60’s and 70’s. Meth made a vicious comeback around the early 90’s and has maintained it’s stronghold ever since. Meth is a completely synthetic central nervous system stimulant which is highly addictive and dangerous. Meth comes in powder, white crystals (crystal meth), and tablet forms. Meth is relatively cheap to buy when compared with other drugs like cocaine, and because it is produced artificially, clandestine labs have dotted the country’s rural areas. Users and dealers can get the recipe for cooking meth on the internet, and with little money, they can buy over the counter ingredients including cold medicine, cat litter, paint thinner and lighter fluid, and make meth. Nearly 65% of all meth distributed in this country come from “super labs” in Mexico and southern California run by gangs and organized crime associates. The other 35% of meth is produced in smaller clandestine meth labs, which have been discovered in rural farms, homes, storage facilities, car trunks, and basements.
Effects of Meth
The overwhelming effects of meth addiction have been seen and felt far and wide, but the battle against this devastating addiction is hard fought. Generally, meth abusers will smoke, snort, inject, or swallow the drug, depending on the kind of high or rush they may be seeking. Swallowing meth will cause the user to feel the effects within 15-20 minutes and the high will be more gradual and less of an immediate rush. Snorting meth will allow the user to feel effects in a matter of a 5-10 minutes, rushing the drug directly to the brain through nasal passages. Injecting and smoking meth are the more popular methods of abusing this drug, as they allow the user to feel immediate effects, giving them an intense rush in seconds. Meth addicts will often go on binges lasting a period of several days, when they will stay awake and continually abuse meth, seeking the intensity of the first rush, but never attaining that same high. By the time a meth abuser stops use of the drug, a crash period will come. Usually, the addict will feel irritated, tired, and sometimes suicidal. This is also indicative of the withdrawal symptoms from meth.
Physical and Psychological Effects of Meth
Meth addiction not only has negative effects on the brain, causing delusions, paranoia, and literal holes in the user’s brain, but it can also result in physical deterioration over periods of continued use. Many meth abusers have open sores and cuts on their face and skin. This is a result of delusion brought on by meth that often confuses it’s users into believing they have insects or parasites under or on their skin. They will often pick at themselves trying to get these imaginary “crank bugs” out. Also, meth use causes dry and itchy skin which often leads to excessive scratching. Another physical symptom of meth abuse is drastic weight loss as meth addicts lose interest in eating with their continued use. Meth addicts often look anorexic because of the severe weight loss they experience during abuse. Meth use raises the users heart rate to dangerously high levels, resulting in breathlessness, sweating, and increased physical and brain activity. Further, “meth mouth” is a commonly used term to describe the tooth decay brought on by meth abuse. One of the ingredients used to make meth is hydrochloric acid and when meth is smoked, that acid rots the enamel of the teeth. This often causes the teeth to become discolored, get softer, twist and fall out. Meth users have been known to grind their teeth and have increased desires for sweet foods and carbonated beverages. The sugar along with teeth grinding causes devastating effects on the already decaying tooth enamel, leaving the meth addict with massive tooth decay, discoloration, and loss. Symptoms like these are not immediate, but can occur over a period of a few months to several years, depending on the severity of the individual addiction and attention to personal hygiene. Generally meth addicts will pay less attention to their hygiene the further into their addiction they get. Meth addicts are constantly seeking and focusing on the next fix, and not so much on brushing their teeth, showering, eating, and attending to general health practices. This kind of behavior is present in most addictions and not limited to meth addicts.
Meth and Clandestine Labs
Makeshift meth labs not only contribute to the ongoing meth addiction problem, making the drug cheaper and more available, but these clandestine labs also cause devastatingly negative effects on the environment and those in their vicinity. It has been reported that for ever pound of meth produced, 5-7 pounds of biohazard waste are created. Often, labs that have been seized by law enforcement agencies leave the toxins from the production of meth on surfaces for months and years after production has ceased. These toxins have made their way through walls and in apartment complexes, several residents close to the makeshift lab have reported illness due to breathing in the toxic fumes from cooking meth. Aside from the toxic fumes and hazardous byproducts of cooking meth, many explosions have been reported from measurement or heating errors with the dangerous chemicals used to produce meth. These days, with meth labs popping up for every one shut down by law enforcement, and the production of flavored meth, tasting like fruits to hook younger kids, the problem with meth is critical.
Treating Meth Addiction
Nearly every addiction treatment center in the nation is equipped to treat meth addiction along with the myriad of other drugs being abused these days. The treatment of meth addiction is less about a physical addiction and more about the psychological rehabilitation of the addict. Like Cocaine, there has not been a researched link between the drug use and physical addiction bringing on physical withdrawal symptoms. This research however, does not imply that meth is not addictive. It’s very clear that it is has very high addictive effects on the brain and that is where meth treatment is focused. Generally, the detox process, when the meth is leaving the body and no longer controlling the central nervous system, causes psychological symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, depression, and sometimes suicidal emotions. For this reason, it is very important to undergo the withdrawal, or detox, process from meth in a monitored environment. Once the withdrawal process has been completed, meth treatment is a matter of the addict wanting to free him or herself from the addiction and working with the staff at an addiction treatment center to gain the skills necessary to reintegrate with society drug-free and armed with the tools to handle stressors and triggers which may lead to relapse.
Find Help Now
For meth, or any other kind of substance abuse treatment, it is always important to have the facts on the disease and the varying types of treatment available for each individual and their specific mental, physical, religious, lifestyle, or health needs. The task of this research can be extremely daunting with the myriad of niche treatment programs available. Please feel free to explore our site and if you have questions about your own or someone else’s drug abuse, please fill out our free confidential assessment and we will get back to you immediately to discuss the details of your situation and assess your needs. If we can be of any further assistance to you in obtaining information or finding the right treatment center for you, please call us anytime, day or night. We are here to help.