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What is it?

Methamphetamine or Meth is a powerful addictive stimulant that is similar to adrenaline, and dramatically affects the central nervous system. The fact that it is widely manufactured from inexpensive ingredients in simple labs, often homebased, contributes to its widespread use. Toxic ingredients such as battery acid and drain cleaner are also used to produce meth.

Slang Terms:

Meth, crank, crystal, speed, ice and glass. Use is often referred to as “doing a line.” Binging is “doing a run.”

How is it used?

Methamphetamine is a white or colored powder that can be taken intravenously, smoked, snorted through the nose, or made into pill form and swallowed. Smokeable methamphetamine is known as glass or ice.

Signs of usage:

When under the influence of meth, the user may be very talkative with a high level of energy. Dry mouth can be observed, as well as dilated pupils. Users may also scratch at imaginary bugs on the face and other skin, leaving sores. Weight loss can be observed after a period of use.

Effects of usage:

At first the user feels energized, focused, positive, and alert. Many people take the drug to stay awake and active. However, the first “high” is usually not attained again with the same dose, so more meth is taken the next time. Many teenage girls and young women take meth to lose weight, which seems easy because of loss of appetite. Insomnia, sweating, and repeated motor activity are common effects as well as some alarming psychological and physical effects. These can include paranoia; increased heart rate; increase in blood pressure; delusional thinking; anger and aggression; tremors, and at higher doses, palpitations and hypothermia.

How long do the effects last?

The effects of meth can last anywhere from three to 12 hours. Users often “do a run” for several days straight in an effort to increase and prolong meth’s perceived positive effects, going without sleep or food.

Effects of withdrawal:

When the feeling of well-being and energy wears off, the meth user may experience entirely opposite effects, because the drug suppresses the normal production of adrenaline in the body. Irritability and fatigue may result. This often leads to the desire to use more in order to remain high.

Adverse reactions:

Many of the effects of meth use can be negative, such as sleeplessness, anger and paranoia. More dramatic reactions include convulsions and agitation. An overdose can result in a potentially fatal cardiac arrest or stroke. There is also a possibility of lead poisoning. Meth abuse during pregnancy can result in congenital deformities and premature delivery.

Effects of prolonged usage:

The pleasure/tension cycle is self-perpetuating. Long-term meth use is devastating. The user is unable to function in daily life and experiences exhaustion when the drug wears off. Dental decay is a well-known result of prolonged use. Long term use and higher doses needed to get high increase the risk of toxicity, overdose and death. Death by overdose rose 125 % between 1998 and 2002. Meth may permanently cause brain damage after prolonged use.

Usage by youth:

The heartbreak of meth’s high incidence of use by teens and young people is exacerbated by the desire by young women to be thin. Meth use crosses every income and social background, and is common at “rave” clubs. The Internet is rife with sites that provide meth recipes and information on where to obtain ingredients. More than .3 % of 12 to 17-year olds and 18 to 25-year olds currently use meth. Among students, methamphetamine use was reported in 2000 to be 1.3 % of eighth grade students, 1.5 % of tenth grade students and 1.5 % of high school seniors. Higher percentages have actually used methamphetamine at some time, including almost 12 % of high school seniors. At least 4% of the U.S. population reports using the drug.

Recent Developments:

Hospital emergency and treatment admissions for meth use increased throughout the 90s. In
the past few years, the use of meth among teens has increased significantly for youth aged 12
to 17. Over the past few years, meth produced in Mexico has also increased.

Information provided by Dr. Barbara A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center

First Check Diagnostics, LLC is offering these resources for informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way affiliated with any of the entities that provide the resources.