Methamphetamine, Crystal Meth
Category: psychomotor stimulant, sympatho-mimetic
Chemical Name: methylamphetamine
- Can be synthesized relatively easily from legally available materials such as household products or cold medication, which contain ephredine, iodine, hydrochloric acid, ether and ammonia.
- This synthetic nature of meth means that different people make it in different ways and makes its texture and purity very variable.
- It is usually sold in a waxy form known as ‘base’ or ‘paste’ or in a tablet or powder. When this powder is recrystalized, it is sold as ‘ice’ or ‘crystal meth’.
- Meth can be smoked, injected (effects from these methods appearing within seconds), snorted (effects appearing in 3 to 5 minutes) or eaten (effects appearing in 20 minutes). Its effects can last up to 20 hours.
- Along with cocaine and amphetamines, methamphetamine is one of the most powerful reinforcers.
- Methamphetamine is legally prescribed for attention deficit disorder (ADD) under the brand name Desoxyn, for children and adults.
*Reactions and experiences may vary dramatically from person to person.*
Effects on brain:
- Methamphetamine primarily mimics dopamine and other monoamine neurotransmitters. It is therefore absorbed in the pre-synaptic cell along with natural neurotransmitters. This overload forces the neurotransmitter into the synapse, leading to an overstimulation of the postsynaptic cell and blocking its reuptake.
- Possible long term effects include reduction of the brain’s natural neurotransmitters production sites (leading to dependence), and neurotoxic damage of brain tissue, resulting in loss of cells in many parts of the brain including the fontal cortex.
Effects on body:
- Stimulation of sympathetic synapses, mimicking sympathetic arousal and eliminating fatigue on most cognitive and perceptual tasks and on athletic activity.
- Increased energy, euphoria, increased physical activity, self-confidence, desire to communicate, reduced inhibition, decreased appetite, dry mouth, increased heart rate and breathing, insomnia, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle tremors, dizziness and sweating.
- ‘Tweaking’ - the common term for coming down from meth. Tweaking will usually cause a person to become irritable, anxious, aggressive, paranoid, and has resulted in bizarre suicides and accidental deaths.
- Irreversible damage to the immune system and metabolism
- Dental decay ('meth mouth'), scars from scratching, stroke, organ failure, hair loss, stroke, speeding up of aging signs, extreme weight loss, co-ordination difficulties
- Neurotoxicity (affecting memory and motor skills)
- Rupture of blood vessels in the brain, hyperthermia, heart failure, seizures and/or coma related to overdose, all of which can result in death.
Effects on behavior:
- Possible short term effects include heightened alertness, euphoria, decreased need for sleep, increased libido, excessive talking, irritability, paranoia, aggressiveness, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, panic, and scratching of the skin past the point of bleeding due to an itching sensation.
- Possible long term effects include exacerbation of underlying mental problems, memory impairment, paranoia, recurring hallucinations, and clinical depression.
Addiction: Highly addictive, physically and psychologically (cravings)
Tolerance: Tolerance usually develops quite quickly, metabolic, neurological and contextual to most psychological effects (excluding blocking of sleep and some physical effects on body temperature and blood pressure).
Withdrawal Symptoms: Symptoms can be intense and long-lasting symptoms and include: depression, fatigue, lengthy but disturbed sleep, intense hunger, dysphoria, inability to experience pleasure and pyschosis.
*Disclaimer! Nothing you do can make using meth, or crystal meth completely safe. All drug use has inherent risks and dangers. The suggestions in this section can only help you reduce some of the associated risks. The best way to avoid the harms related to drug use is to not take the drug at all.*
- Methamphetamine is illegal, therefore if you are caught possessing, exchanging, buying or selling this drug it can result in criminal charges.
- Drug use affects the developing mind and body differently than developed ones. Waiting until your mind and body have more fully developed before using substances can have long term health and mental benefits.
- Swallowing is the safest method of administering methamphetamine. This also makes its effects last longer.
- Avoid sharing equipment (straws, syringes, spoons) since this could lead to transmission of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV
- When injecting, use new, clean syringes and equipment. Prepare your shot on a clean surface. Clean the area you are planning to inject with soap and water or an alcohol pad. You can get clean injection supplies from a syringe exchange, a pharmacy, or your local health department.
- Cleaning needles and works is not risk-free; it’s a last resort. Rinse with cool water 3 times, bleach for 30 seconds, then clean water 3 times.
- Regular and repeated injection can cause abscesses, collapsed veins, infections and other complications. Regular smoking can cause chest pain and breathing difficulties.
- Do not take too much at a time; overdose can result in permanent brain and body damage or death. There is no antidote for meth overdose; if you think someone might be overdosing, call 911.
- If you have been taking meth for an extended period of time, it is recommended you take vitamin and calcium supplements, as well as looking after your weight.
- Mixing methamphetamines with other drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol is extremely dangerous, putting extra strain on the heart and increasing the risk of adverse reactions.
- Resting after coming down is important to let your body refuel and reduce your risk of contracting illnesses (habitual methamphetamine use can cause a run-down immune system).
- Use with people you know and trust. When you use methamphetamine, you may become disoriented, paranoid and nervous. Have someone with you who will look out for you if you need help.