Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth, is a destructive and highly addictive stimulant. The crystallized form of the drug, crystal meth, has gained notoriety in recent history because of its intense highs and the unmistakable damage that it causes to those who use it. Methamphetamine has a schedule II classification, and once addicted, it is almost impossible to break free of the drug’s control.
A small amount of the drug stimulates the user’s mind. The euphoric feeling causes a desire to chase the high. However, the price is systematic destruction of the addicted person’s body. Psychotic behavior is common; memory loss, brain damage, heart malfunctions, and rapid aging are just some of the side effects of meth use. “Meth mouth” is another visible effect because meth users generally have poor hygiene, plus the drug causes the person’s teeth to decay and eventually fall out. Without professional help, many users will abuse meth until they meet an early grave.
This drug often looks like a crystal-laden powder and has no odor. The drug has a bitter taste and dissolves in liquids with ease. The purity of meth determines its color. It is generally white or yellow; in its powdered form pink, gray orange and even brown meth is possible.
It is also available in rock-like chunks that require the flaking of pieces from the chunk. Those flaked pieces resemble shards of glass, which is why you may hear an addict refer to meth as ‘glass’. Besides the powdered and rock forms meth can be compressed into pills. Depending on the user preference, meth can be taken orally, via intravenous injection, snorted through the nose, or smoked.
Methamphetamine, unlike many drugs, is not a naturally occurring substance. The drug is fully synthetic. It is commonplace for meth manufacturing to take place in private homes or meth houses. These can be in regular neighborhoods in basements, garages or kitchens, undetected by most people until something goes wrong, such as strong odors, explosions, fires, or the arrival of police.
A variety of amphetamines and/or derivatives are mixed with other chemicals such as drain cleaner, antifreeze, and even battery acid. The goal is to increase the drugs potency. Common medicines used for colds tend to make the base for most fabrication.
Labs explode because the chemicals used are very volatile. The meth ‘cook’ is often high on the drug while cooking up another batch. People are often disfigured or killed because of meth production, and homes nearby meth labs are in constant danger.
Methamphetamine first began being distributed in 1887 throughout Germany. The Japanese refined the process in 1919, producing a more potent and toxic drug. World War II was fueled by meth:
By 1950, methamphetamine was being touted as a diet aid and psychotropic drug capable of combating depression. Athletes, truck drivers, and college students could easily acquire the drug. Virtually anyone needing a boost of energy would use the drug. 1960 ushered in a new age of inject-able forms of meth and abuse spread.
With an increasing number of Americans strung out on meth the US government finally took measures to control the drug. The production, use, sale and distribution of meth were outlawed except under strict medical supervision and in limited cases. The use of this drug became more constrained, and it was mostly rural communities that felt the effects of rampant addiction.
Around 1990, California became the hub for meth production. Drug cartels set up meth houses that churned out several pounds of the drug a week. For a substance that is used in minute forms, those production levels were massive. As common people learned the poisonous brew that increased meth’s potency, ‘stove top’ labs sprung up worldwide.
Methamphetamine has no target audience; it indiscriminately destroys the lives of people of all ages. It is a common culprit at raves and other party scenes. Thought by some to be a harmless ‘party drug’, it can quickly dominate a person’s life.
In 2011 the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported the following statistics for lifetime national use:
In 2012 the institute reported that lifetime meth drug use among middle school and high school aged children were at the following rates:
While these figures are a decrease from statistics from four years prior the rates are still alarming. Additionally, the United Nations’ Drug and crime division reported more than 24 million users worldwide.
In some places, such as Hawaii, meth use has climbed to represent as much as 48 percent of the persons who seek assistance with drug abuse. The overall percentage of treatment admissions due to abuse on the mainland U.S. teeters around 10 percent.
Once someone has smoked or injected the drug, they are hit with an intense sensation. The first part of a high is called the ‘rush’. When this drug is snorted or swallowed, a less intense overall sense of euphoria is experienced. Thereafter, agitation and violence can ensue. To paint a picture of the cycle, an outline of the stages are below:
Withdrawal happens as a result of seeking help or as the result of non-use by a casual user who has become addicted without realizing it. In both cases, as time passes without the drug, a series of events, including depression, loss of energy and discontent or lack of pleasure take over the user’s mind. Withdrawal will drive a user back to the drug, and without help it can be impossible to quit.
The effects meth has on the body varies. However, even short-term use is detrimental. Users initially experience a host of side effects including:
It is important to note, even with fist-time use, convulsions seizures and death can occur from high doses of meth. With their judgment clouded, and getting high a priority, a user may not realize or care that their life is on the line.
In the long-term, a user’s body is completely decimated. The mind, heart, and brain all suffer. Respiratory system damage plagues those who smoke meth. Abscesses and infection riddle the injection sites of intravenous users. Cartilage and tissue damage of the nose occur in those who sniff it. At best, a meth user will only suffer from a handful of the following symptoms as well; at worst they will have to live with them all:
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. There is no safe level of casual use as dependency is virtually automatic. Tolerance is easily built, and when more meth is needed to get high more meth will be needed to maintain a feeling of normality. Long stints of drug use, where hour after hour a user uses more and more, exhausts and poisons their body.
To look into the eyes of a meth addict is to see someone truly lost. This drug takes over the mind and removes everything human from its users. They become a shell, detached from reality, stuck in a cycle of repetitive behavior, paranoia and hallucinations.
Meth makes users self-destruct. Unable to piece together rational thoughts, driven on instinct alone, they are doomed without help. Lost in a world where parasites and bugs crawl over their skin and all that matters is their next fix.
If you or someone you know is addicted to meth – seek help. You cannot manage it on your own. Choose while there is still a choice. There is life after meth use.
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