Everything You Need To Know About Crystal Meth
Drug addiction remains to be one of the world’s major issues, and it has never been an easy task to completely get rid of this global menace. One of the longest running drug problems in the world involves something that a lot of young individuals fall prey into. In this article, we will look into crystal meth.
What is Crystal Meth?
One of the most common illegal substances and “club drugs” sold at parties, music festivals, and concerts is known as a crystal meth. This stimulant drug – which is scientifically called methamphetamine – comes in white powder or pill form.
Physically, crystal meth looks like glass fragments. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug that is used to treat ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Crystal meth is a synthetic chemical that is manufactured in clandestine laboratories whereby mixing various forms of amphetamine with other chemicals to increase potency. Extracts from cold pills are mixed with chemicals such as antifreeze, battery acid, drain cleaner, and lantern fuel.
Illegal drugs are given other names to act as a disguise when the drug is being talked about publicly. However, when these names have become popular, users and drug dealers may resort to coming up with new names for the substance.
For methamphetamine, other street names that the substance has been known for include the following:
- Biker’s Coffee
- Black Beauties
- Chicken Feed
- Crystal Glass
- Crystal Meth Glass
- Hot Ice
- A. Glass
- A. Ice
- Poor Man’s Cocaine
- Stove Top
- Super Ice
- Yellow Bam
The long list of names signifies that the substance has become such a “hot item” on the streets, that there is a need to make use of several names in order to get past authorities.
Why is Crystal Meth Being Abused?
Crystal meth is taken by snorting or inhaling, smoking or injecting with a needle. Some users may even take it orally.
No matter how the substance is used, it develops a strong desire to continue using the drug as it creates a false sense of happiness and well-being. It is because of this positive effect that some people have been hooked on this illicit substance as they feel that they are able to achieve the following:
- Provides an escape from the harsh realities of life
- Strengthens camaraderie with fellow users
- Helps to lose weight
- Enhances mood
- Increases sexual pleasure
Effects of Crystal Meth Use
Taking any kind of drug may produce both favorable and unfavorable effects. People looking for an immediate and long-lasting high turn to crystal meth to satisfy their needs.
When this substance is smoked, the vapor is quickly absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream. It then rapidly travels to the brain, thereby affecting the behavior of the user. An instantaneous euphoric effect can be felt, followed by an increase in alertness and energy that can last up to 12 hours.
Methamphetamine and the Brain
Methamphetamine boosts the production of a natural chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved with body movement, pleasure, motivation, and reward. It is this rapid release of high levels of dopamine that causes the brain to produce such euphoric effect.
Regardless of how small the quantity that a user has taken, it can result in various health effects similar to those of other stimulants, such as amphetamine and cocaine. These effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Faster breathing
- Increased blood pressure and body temperature
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity
- Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
Dangers of Crystal Meth Use
Taking crystal methamphetamine has a huge impact on the health, both physically and psychologically. Its dangerous side effects include:
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Elevated blood pressure
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe mood swings
- Significant weight loss
- Tremors or convulsions
- Unpredictable behavior
Crystal meth is such a powerful drug that taking it for a long time may lead to serious effects such as:
- More persistent psychotic symptoms (including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations)
- Increased mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and social isolation
- Body sores from users picking at their skin
- Breathing problems associated with smoke inhalation
- Confusion and odd behavior
- Feeling of bugs crawling on the skin
- Irreversible damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart and brain
Signs of Crystal Meth Use
Crystal meth use may adversely affect the structure and function of the brain that is linked to memory and emotion. Studies in the past discovered that crystal meth users may experience cognitive and emotional difficulties.
Habitual use of this substance may lead to some psychological effects such as:
- Anxiety, irritability, and aggressive or violent behavior
- Alertness and increased concentration
- Hyperactivity and insomnia
- Increased energy, libido, self-esteem, confidence, and sociability
- Delusions of grandeur with a sensation of power and invincibility
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Psychomotor agitation
- Compulsive skin picking, leading to skin sores
- Repetitive and obsessive behaviors
- Psychosomatic disorders (which makes an individual paranoid even with just a minor medical issue)
Methamphetamine psychosis is also likely to develop after being exposed to the substance in large doses for a long time.
Taking crystal meth may also affect the body through the following:
- Abnormal heart rhythm, rapid heartbeat, and palpitations
- Acne and itchy skin
- Blurred vision
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth and skin
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature, or hyperthermia
- Pale skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid breathing
- Restlessness, twitching, and tremors
It is also highly likely for crystal meth users to lose their teeth due to severe dental caries or tooth decay (more commonly known as “meth mouth”). This happens because crystal meth is composed of acid ingredients that come from battery acid, hydrochloric acid, and drain cleaner.
Additionally, having meth mouth includes the following conditions:
- Incessant grinding and clenching of teeth
- Increased incidence of experiencing dryness in the mouth, thereby reducing levels of protective saliva
- High craving for sugary drinks
- Higher tendency to neglect oral hygiene due to obsession for pleasure
Diagnosis and Treatment
Crystal meth use may lead to dependence and tolerance for the substance. This means that as a user takes the drug, his body becomes less responsive to the effects of the drug using the usual dose. As a result, the user may want to take more than the dose that he usually takes until he is able to feel the same euphoric effect.
The effects of the drug may intensify as the dose is increased. This may lead the user to become completely hooked on the drug. Once a user becomes physically or psychologically dependent on the drug, this would start to cause various health conditions.
When you notice any of the signs and symptoms in your friends or family members, it may be time for an intervention. One way of starting to intervene is to confront the user and slowly help him/her realize the situation.
The user must be convinced to undergo treatment to be free from such addiction. To be certain if your suspicion is real, subjecting the person under a drug test should be considered.
Window Detection Time
The active components of methamphetamine may linger in the human body for a certain period of time, depending on the bodily fluid. Here are the window detection times for crystal meth in specific body fluid samples:
- Urine: stays for 3 to 5 days starting 2-5 hours after use
- Blood: stays for 1 to 3 days starting (depends on the form of ingestion) 2 hours after use
- Saliva: stays for 1 to 4 days starting 10 minutes after use
- Hair: stays 90 days on standard consumer hair test.
It is equally important to determine the person’s health and physiological factors, the amount and frequency of use, and the method of ingestion or intake.
It is highly probably for users to suffer from a meth overdose. Frequent use in large doses may lead to stroke, heart attack, organ failure, and death.
Most often, meth use leads to stroke. The immediate care provided to these individuals is by:
- Restoring blood flow to the affected part of the brain (stroke)
- Restoring blood flow to the heart (heart attack)
- Treating the organ problems
Treatment for Addiction
Treatment may be performed in a medical facility or any rehabilitation center wherein detoxification is the primary step in treating the addiction. Detoxification is the process wherein the substance is gradually taken out of the system until such time that the individual would no longer experience the unfavorable effects of detoxification.
During the process, the user may experience painful withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Feelings of depression
- Increased appetite
- Intense drug craving
- Itchy eyes
- Loss of energy
- Sleep difficulties, ranging from oversleeping to severe insomnia
Some users who have undergone treatment may suffer such painful withdrawal symptoms, that to continue with the treatment may become unbearable for them. This may cause them to have a relapse, which can worsen the scenario.
This is the reason why it is advisable that individuals undergoing rehabilitation due to substance abuse should be under the care of medical professionals. Unfortunately, unlike other kinds of drug addiction, treatment for methamphetamine addiction does not involve any special medication other than to relieve individuals symptomatically.
Apart from detoxification, a standard rehabilitation program includes cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is done by allowing the user/patient to talk to a psychotherapist, wherein the root cause of drug addiction is being addressed. This is a very important part of the therapy because if problems are left unresolved, there is a high risk of having a relapse.
- Motivational incentives are vouchers or a small amount of money given to user/patients to encourage them to become drug-free.
Finally, the family’s involvement in the whole process of treatment is important because these individuals, at some point, may have lost the trust of others. When recovering addicts feel that whatever happened in the past no longer matters and that they are wholeheartedly accepted by their families, recovery becomes quicker.
It is essential that we are aware of crystal meth abuse so that we can have better knowledge that we can impart to our family, particularly the children. This way, more people may become aware of the dangers of this substance, so that they can say “no” when they are being tempted to try it.