Crystal Meth

Crystal methamphetamine, generally known as crystal meth, or simply just meth, is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Meth speeds up your body’s systems, producing feelings of increased energy and exhilaration.

Unlike other legally prescribed stimulants that are used to treat mental disorders and obesity, crystal meth is highly illegal.

What Really is Crystal Meth?

The truth about crystal meth is that it is a synthetic form of methamphetamines made from common over-the-counter medications including pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in many cold medications.

This crystalline form of the drug methamphetamine is translucent in color with hues of pink, blue or green. Most crystal meth users smoke the substance out of a glass pipe or glass object. 

Although most amphetamines release an energetic, focused high; crystal meth is known to produce a heightened high that you cannot reach from prescribed medications. This stimulant drug is very dangerous and even life-threatening.

Crystal meth is not available for any form of legal consumption, indicating that it is sold on the streets. Due to the fact meth is not a naturally occuring substance, this drug can be made at home in a crystal meth laboratory. 

Creating meth isn’t easy or safe. It’s highly dangerous to do so because of the combination of chemicals. The wrong procedure of creating meth can lead to chemical explosions and death. In the United States, most meth that is consumed here is produced in labs in Mexico. However, there are still thousands of individuals who create meth in their home. 

The History Behind Crystal Meth

Imitative forms of legal amphetamines, such as crystal meth, have been used since the late 1800’s. Germany is home to the first original amphetamine, however, Japan debuted the first use of methamphetamines in 1919.

For instance, this drug was extremely popular during the WWII era to help keep soldiers energized and focused.

A few decades later, America saw a large increase in popularity for this drug substance. In the 50’s, crystal meth became a very popular drug to help fight depression and weight loss. It was also used by students, athletes and truck drivers to help stay awake and focused. 

However, things took a turn for crystal meth in the 70’s. The U.S. government banned all legal use and consumption for the drug. Making it completely illicit for all common use. This ban forced meth to be created in underground areas and in many illegal forms. 

Due to the fact the effects of crystal meth are like those of cocaine, but for a fraction of the cost, this substance became very popular in low-income and rural areas. 

Different types of Methamphetamines

Meth comes in several different forms, each form not differentiating too far from one another. Crystal meth is used and available in crystal-like rocks that are generally smoked. Smoking crystal meth is the most common way to ingest this substance into your body. 

Alongside the crystalized form, it is also available in a more pure form called glass. Glass is typically heated and injected right into the veins, however, it can be snorted or swallowed. 

Since meth is a man-made substance that is produced in illicit labs, everytime an individual uses this drug they are taking a high risk chance. In other words, bad batches of meth can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening since you don’t know what is going into it. Using and creating any form of crystal meth is dangerous and illegal.

Unlike many other amphetamines, meth is not commonly mixed or used with other illicit substances. In some cases, however, meth may be cut with heroin or taken with alcohol. Users also may combine meth with whippets or poppers to increase the initial high.

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Identifying Methamphetamines

In relation to its name, crystal meth is typically white and odorless. Yet, this drug does come in other colors such as light pink, yellows, greens and oranges. Since crystal meth is man-made, these colors come from the different ingredients used during production. 

Common names used to refer to crystal meth:

  • Ice
  • Glass
  • Shards
  • Quartz

In addition to ice or glass, other common names used when referring to crystal meth are speed or crank. These two nicknames refer to the effects one has while using. Smoking crystal meth is the most common form of use, and gives you the most immediate high. Some individuals also orally inject crystal meth, causing a very bitter taste.

The Effects of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamines produce a euphoric-like high that typically lasts around 6 hours. Compared to other drug substances, this high is rather short-lived, but intense. 

After consuming meth, most users go through these three stages of effects:

  • Rush: The rush feeling you experience is the initial flood of dopamine after using. This feeling typically lasts somewhere between 5 minutes to an hour. During this time you will experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and your pupils will become very dilated. This rush feeling is most intense for those who smoke meth.
  • High: After the initial rush leaves the body, the high begins to set in. This high is described by hyperactivity and lingering euphoric effects. Those who have a high off meth typically have a decrease in appetite, yet an increase in energy. Generally, those who use meth believe they have unlimited powers and can accomplish anything. 
  • Comedown: This is the third and final stage of effects while using meth. The comedown occurs after the rush and high are gone. This is when individuals come back to reality. However, this feeling can be very unpleasant and unwanted. Resulting in fatigue, pains, aches, anxiety and confusion. 

Meth is highly addictive because of the euphoric feeling it gives off. Since meth hinders individuals appetite and want for sleep, this drug can be very harmful and damaging to the body. Repetitive use can have many short-term and long-term effects. 

Short-term effects:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Weight loss
  • Hyperthermia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened energy
  • Skin damage; meth often creates a sensation of bugs on or in the skin, leading to obsessive skin picking

Long-term effects:

Due to the nature of this drug, long-term use can cause severe health issues and even death.

  • Mood changes and frustration
  • Changes in brain structure, including the ability to process dopamine normally
  • Psychosis
  • Increased anxiety and hallucinations
  • Deficits in memory, cognition and motor skills
  • Severe dental problems (meth mouth) 
  • Extreme weight loss 
  • Malnourishment, no appetite 
  • Aggression and violent urges

Methamphetamine Addiction and Overdose

Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. Part of the reason methamphetamine and Crystal Meth are so addictive is it’s impact on the neurotransmitter dopamine. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, roughly 1.6 million individuals use crystal meth regularly.

When users smoke, snort, or inject methamphetamine, it increases the body’s natural dopamine levels to more than 10 times that of non-users.  The intense level of euphoria and elevated mood causes cravings for more of the drug, which is the hallmark of severe substance abuse disorders and addiction.

An overdose from methamphetamine occurs when too much of the drug is consumed and a toxic reaction results.  Treating an overdose starts by ensuring blood flow and oxygen return to crucial organs like the heart. 

Often, synthetic or real opioids are added to methamphetamine without the user’s knowledge and can result in a fatal opioid overdose. 

In this case, administering the opioid-overdose reversal drug “naloxone” can save someone’s life until they can be treated at a hospital. In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl (Centers for Disease Control, CDC).