Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant and is derived from its parent drug, amphetamine, which has limited medical purposes and Crystal Meth is common among those who use it.
Amphetamines were developed in the 1930’s for use in treating obesity and sleeping problems. In the case of obesity, amphetamine acts to curb appetite. In sleeping problems, a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, amphetamine helps keep the patient awake. Amphetamine is also used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.
Crystal Meth, as we know it today, was once only found in Hawaii and some western states. The drug had been brought in from Asia. But the drug quickly found its way across the country, and statistics show that at least 10 million people have tried methamphetamine at least once.
Crystal Meth Definition
It's classified as a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. It is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and works on the brain and spinal chord.
Crystal Meth interferes with the normal function of neurotransmitters, which are natural chemicals produced by nerve cells that communicate with each other to regulate thinking and all body systems. One of those neurotransmitters is called dopamine, which influences our natural reward system.
For example, we do a good job, we feel good about ourselves. We get pleasure from the company of others. We enjoy a soft summer breeze.
Any pleasurable feeling relies on the function of dopamine.
Methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine. That's why Crystal Meth addiction is so common. In its legal form, the drug is only available by prescription and those prescriptions cannot be refilled.
A VERY dangerous drug
Crystal Meth is very addictive because of its pleasurable effect from the increased release of dopamine. Users become addicted quickly and as they continue to abuse the drug, higher doses are needed, and increased frequency of use.
Chronic abuse of this drug, will alter brain function by damaging neuron cell endings. The dopamine and serotonin neurons do not die, but the cell endings are cut back and while cells endings might grow back, that process is limited by the damage.
Crystal Meth studies of the human brain have shown apparent changes in the dopamine system, and these changes are responsible for reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning.
Methamphetamine use also contributes to changes in areas of the brain associated with memory and emotion. Chronic users have experienced serious emotional and cognitive problems directly attributed to Crystal Meth.
Methamphetamine gets to work quickly, even in small amounts, and persons using it may exhibit some of the following symptoms:
- They may be more active and energetic.
- They may have less appetite.
-Their heart rate may increase or become irregular; their breathing my be more rapid; their blood pressure may rise.
- Rapid heart rate is common, as is irregular heart rate.
- Other side effects are anxiety, irritability, insomnia, tremors, a confused mental state, cardiovascular collapse and even death.
Chronic, long-term use produces anorexia, aggressiveness, paranoia, memory loss, hallucinations and delusional thinking. Long-term Crystal Meth use causes severe dental problems. Methamphetamine use also increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
If a user injects the drug, the HIV risk comes from used needles. But the drug is so intoxicating that users may be less inhibited and often engage in unsafe activities, such as unprotected sex.
Methamphetamine users who have HIV, experience an increase in neuro-injury and cognitive impairment, compared to HIV patients who do not use drugs.
Crystal Meth Binge and crash
The pleasurable effects of Methamphetamine will wear off before its concentration in the blood is reduced, so users will try to keep the “high” going by taking more.
The powerful lure of the drug keeps the user occupied, often for days, going without food and sleep. This is known as a “run” and that binge leads to a crash. Because of the binge and crash, users lose their sense of reality, as any health concerns are abandoned by the urge for the high. With no sense of time, no awareness of danger, people can literally throw away their lives using this drug.
Made from legal chemicals
The media runs stories from time to time about raids on the small illegal labs that produce methamphetamine. The drug is manufactured using common chemicals that can be purchased legally.
In recent years, for example, there was a crackdown on over-the-counter cough medicine because those legal medications were being used to produce methamphetamine. The portable labs are small and can fit into a suitcase.
Illegal operations are set up in home kitchens, basements, garages, hotel rooms or just about any small, private space. However, the labs are also very dangerous, as explosions are not uncommon. These dangerous manufacturing operations are started because a few hundred dollars in materials can lead to thousands on the street. Those who profit from the misery and misfortune of others figure it’s a risk worth taking.
The drug has many street names including meth, speed, crank, chalk, go-fast, zip, tina and cristy.
Methamphetamine hydrochloride is the form of the drug that is smoked, and some of its nicknames include L.A., ice, crystal, 64 glass and quartz.
Bad news, good news
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NASDUH) reported in 2005 about Crystal Meth, that 10.4 million people aged 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once. The rate of annual and 30-day use of the drug had not changed from 2004 to 2005, but the number of people who had tried the drug at least once had declined from 4.9 to 4.3 percent.
There have also been reported dramatic decreases in the illegal methamphetamine labs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, there have been reported increases in the smuggling of larger amounts from Mexico and a much more pure form of the drug.
Methamphetamine and Cocaine Comparison
Crystal Meth and cocaine create similar effects, such as an intense “rush” and feelings of euphoria, but they are very different in the way they work in the body.
Cocaine leaves the system rather quickly, as it is metabolized by the body. But, methamphetamine can linger for hours. It stays in the body, unchanged.
Meth stays in the brain longer than cocaine, and therefore the drug is longer-lasting. Both methamphetamine and cocaine cause an increase in the levels of dopamine, but levels of dopamine are higher with meth use, because the nerve cell actions are different.
Methamphetamine is a Stimulant.
Cocaine is a Stimulant and local anesthetic.
Methamphetamine is Synthetic.
Cocaine is derived from an organic substance (leaves of coca plant).
Smoking Methamphetamine produces long-lasting high.
Smoking Cocaine produces a short-term high.
50% of Methamphetamine is removed from the body in 12 hours and increases dopamine release and blocks dopamine re-uptake.
50% of Cocaine is removed from the body in 1 hour.
Methamphetamine has limited medical use.
Cocaine has limited medical use as a local anesthetic for some surgical procedures.
Read about unexpected consequences of Crystal Meth.