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Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth Information
Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth is an illegal synthetic (man-made) drug. It is not made from a plant or an herb. Methamphetamine varies in texture and purity depending on how it is made. It may be sold as a fine to coarse powder, crystals, or white chunks with grey or pink bits. It may be taken by mouth, smoked, snorted, or injected. 'Speed' is the injectable form of methamphetamine. Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) is the smokeable form of methamphetamine.
Also Known As:
222, chalk, crank, crystal, crystal meth, dirt, glass, hawaiian salt, fast, gak, gingo, grit, high speed chicken feed, ice, koolaid, kryptonite, ladies, peach, peanut butter, peanuts, pink, poor man's cocaine, rock candy, shabu, shards, sketch, soiks, speed (meth), spooch, stove top, tina, tweak, zip.
Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants
How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Body?
Methamphetamine is absorbed into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain. The speed at which methamphetamine reaches the brain depends on how it is taken. The fastest effects are felt within seconds after injection and smoking. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes. When taken by mouth, it may take up to 20 minutes to begin to work. Smoking methamphetamine may produce effects that last for 10 or 12 hours.
Methamphetamine acts primarily by causing the release of a chemical called dopamine in parts of the brain responsible for regulating pleasure.
Will Methamphetamine Always Produce The Same Effects?
The effects of methamphetamine are unpredictable. It is different for everyone. The way a person feels after taking methamphetamine depends on many factors:
- age and weight
- mood, expectations and environment
- medical or psychiatric conditions
- amount of methamphetamine taken (dose)
- the way the methamphetamine is taken (by mouth, injection or smoking)
- how often and for how long methamphetamine has been used
- use of other drugs including non-prescription, prescription and street drugs
Short-Term Effects of Meth
There are many unwanted and dangerous effects associated with using methamphetamine. Its effects are unpredictable. Some people will experience anxiety and panic attacks. Methamphetamine may also make a person feel euphoric, energetic, and alert. A person may be talkative, have a rapid flow of ideas, and a sense of increased mental capacity and physical strength.
Short-term use of methamphetamine can produce many other effects:
- sleep difficulties
- reduced appetite
- dry mouth
- teeth grinding
- dilation of pupils
- stomach ache
- muscle tremor (shakiness)
- increased heart rate and irregular heart beat
- increased breathing rate
In addition, a person could potentially experience:
- high fever
- chest pain
- muscle twitching
- paranoid thinking
People often mistakenly label methamphetamine users as 'tweakers'. 'Tweaking' is a stage which occurs as the effects of a high-dose methamphetamine binge begin to wear off. It is characterized by a dangerous combination of anxiety, irritability, aggression, paranoia and hallucinations. These individuals are at high risk for injury or violence. Indeed, deaths related to methamphetamine use often result from bizarre violent suicidal or accidental behaviour.
An overdose of methamphetamine can lead to death. Death can result from rupture of the blood vessels in the brain, heart failure, hyperthermia (extreme fever), seizures and coma. There is no specific antidote that can reverse the effects of the drug. If you think that a person has overdosed, contact emergency services immediately.
Sharing drug supplies, such as needles, pipes, straws and spoons can spread viruses. These include HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
People with diabetes, epilepsy, heart and liver problems, or mental disorders are most susceptible to the dangerous effects of methamphetamine.
Regular users of methamphetamine may:
- have trouble sleeping
- ''meth mouth'' (severe tooth decay and damage)
- skin lesions (due to compulsive picking at 'meth bugs' on their skin because of tactile (sense of touch) hallucinations making them believe something is crawling under their skin)
- feel anxious or tense
- lose their appetite and lose weight
- develop repetitive body movements
- develop high blood pressure
- experience a rapid heart beat
Some people may develop paranoid thought patterns, severe agitation and psychosis. Their behaviour may be erratic, bizarre, or violent. In some cases, psychotic symptoms can linger for years after methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine users sometimes attempt suicide while using the drug or during withdrawal.
Some methamphetamine users have long-lasting memory problems and reduced motor skills. School and job performance may suffer in heavy users of methamphetamine.
Research studies have shown that methamphetamine can damage certain brain cells in animals and humans. While this does not mean that problems will occur in all users or after only one or two uses, the risk of long-term damage is evident.
Can Methamphetamine Harm a Developing Fetus?
Yes. Using methamphetamine during pregnancy can harm a developing fetus. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy may result in prenatal complications such as premature delivery. It is not clear whether the drug causes birth defects. Using methamphetamine also decreases the mother's appetite, which may slow the growth of the fetus in the womb and result in lower birth weight.
Is Methamphetamine Addictive?
Methamphetamine is very addictive.
Tolerance to the mood elevating and sense of well-being effects of methamphetamine develops rapidly with regular use. Tolerance may also develop toward some of the physical effects of the drug, such as the effects on blood pressure and body temperature.
A regular user who stops using methamphetamine abruptly may experience:
- a strong craving for the drug
- extreme fatigue
- lengthy but disturbed sleep
- intense hunger
- an exaggerated sense of mental and emotional discomfort (dysphoria)
- an inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
- personality disturbances (psychosis) that can persist
Source: Health Canada
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