The drug, methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a human-made psycho-stimulant known to affect the brain’s neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin). The drug is ingested into the body either by smoking, snorting, injection, or even oral ingestion.
The drug is pharmaceutically manufactured and prescribed by medical doctor’s to treat patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), weight loss (for Obesity), and other similar conditions. However, when used recreationally without the guidance of a medical physician, the user has a very high risk of developing an addiction or disorder that can lead to permanent damage physically to the central nervous system and cardiovascular system, psychologically (psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations), or emotionally.
It pays for everyone to know the signs of methamphetamine use disorder so they can be in a position to help anyone they know has the problem to get the treatment they need.
For the individual’s challenged with methamphetamine use disorder intervention and help can take on many forms through Online Counseling with a Recovery Coach, Drug Counselor, or with a family member.
What is Crystal Meth or Methamphetamine?
While methamphetamine is a legal drug that can be issued by your physician to treat certain conditions, Crystal Meth is a potent and illegal substance that used recreationally. As they point out at DrugAbuse.com,
Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug by the United States Controlled Substances Act and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) meaning:
• It has a high potential for use and abuse.
• It is currently accepted has medical uses for ADHD and Weight Loss.
• The Use of Methamphetamine Abuse leads to severe psychological dependence.”
The drug that is currently sold on the streets has no medical application and is usually the drug that leads to a methamphetamine use disorder. If you suspect that someone you know is showing the signs of a methamphetamine use disorder, it is vital to help them find treatment as soon as possible.
Continued use of Crystal Meth can lead to extraordinarily damaging and possibly long-term if not permanent damage to the physical, mental, and emotional health.
Common Names for Methamphetamine
Some of the more common “street names” and slang for Methamphetamine are Speed, Crank, Crystal, Glass, Crissy, Ice, Go or “Go Fast,” Whizz, or Tina. Illicit methamphetamine manufactured by criminal organizations and found on the “streets” appears either as a white powder or as transparent, translucent shards of glass hence getting the name “Glass,” or “Crystal.”
10 Signs That Your Loved One May be Using Methamphetamine
Chronic use of methamphetamine can lead to some significant physical signs.
1. They may experience a loss of appetite that can lead to a substantial drop in weight in a very short amount of time.
2. They may have an involuntary eye twitch or other similar body reactions. Their muscles may uncontrollably switch every couple of minutes.
3. You may witness significant changes in their mood, especially when the user is taking high doses of the drug.
4. There may be instances when they are incredibly hyper. According to Addictions.com,
“Hyperactivity can be a symptom that can be hard to detect if the person was very hyperactive before they started using the drug. When a meth addict gets their high, they may become very hyper and can’t stop moving. They can become very dangerous to people around them or themselves.”
5. They will develop a highly repetitious behavior where they want to take things apart and put them back together again only to take them apart once more.
6. Dilated pupils are another symptom common to meth addicts. Since many meth addicts hide their eyes behind sunglasses, you may not be able to see these signs directly, but if you were able to look behind those sunglasses, the symptom could be easy to identify since the condition lasts for up to 26 hours after taking the drug.
7. Users will often have a harsh body order that seems similar to cat urine. This odor is from the chemicals in the drug, and it usually comes out of the pores when they sweat.
8. When under the influence of meth, the meth user may experience periods of paranoia for no apparent reason. They may show schizophrenic tendencies and want to hibernate in their homes.
9. The meth user may develop dry, and itchy skin all over their body and in some cases can be so bad that they draw blood from the constant scratching.
10. There may be a condition from gradual tooth decay and other mouth problems commonly referred to as meth mouth. The drug is known to cause the teeth to rot, blacken, and fall leaving behind sore gums that are red and sensitive.
How is Methamphetamine Manufactured?
As with most if not all illicit drugs (i.e. Cocaine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and, Cocaine) Methamphetamine is imported into the United States from Mexico by way of Mexican Drug Cartels who utilize “mules” (runners) and undocumented (“illegal aliens”) who cross the border with large quantities of methamphetamine.
Drug cartels located in Mexico set up clandestine labs and obtain the active ingredient pseudoephedrine from China that makes up the final product methamphetamine. China is also the largest manufacturer and exporter of fentanyl to Mexico. Methamphetamine manufactured in Mexico gets smuggled into the United States in a liquid or powder form and is then processed into “crystal meth” in the United States.
The powder form of methamphetamine is more commonly processed and pressed into tablets or pills to make it more appealing to a first time user of methamphetamine.
The manufacturing of methamphetamine causes environmental hazards since it involves using poisonous and caustic chemicals to produce chemicals such as acetone, anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), ether, red phosphorus, and, lithium. These chemicals are so toxic that when a meth lab is busted by law enforcement, the lingering effects from these chemicals remain long after the lab is shut down.
Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use and Abuse
Continued use of the drug could lead to extremely severe long-term effects that can be damaging to one’s quality of life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Chronic abusers of methamphetamine may exhibit symptoms that can include significant confusion, anxiety, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display several psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions, Psychotic and psychological symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit.”
These and other problems, if not addressed, can actually lead to an interruption in their quality of life for them as well as anyone close to them. For this reason, it is imperative that treatment is started as soon as possible to help relieve the person of their dependence on the drug so they can reclaim their life. The sooner treatment starts, the sooner everyone can begin to bring some stability to their lives. Some of the more common short term and Long Term Effects and damage of chronic methamphetamine use are
• Dependence and Addiction
• Psychosis, including paranoia, hallucinations, and repetitive motor activity
• Chemical changes in brain function and structure
• Deficits and changes in thinking and motor activity skills
• Increased chances of Parkinson’s Disease
• Methamphetamine-induced Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
• Increased chances of strokes
• Memory Loss
• Violent and Aggressive behavior
• Mood Disturbances
• Dental (Teeth) problems; erosion of enamel and jaw bone
• Weight Loss
• Increased Chance of Cancer due to Chemicals used to make Methamphetamine.
Statistics On Methamphetamine Use In The United States
• 1.7 Million people (0.55 Percent of the Population) reported using methamphetamine in the past year.
• 1 Million people (0.45 Percent of the Population) reported using methamphetamine in the last month.
• The average age of new methamphetamine users in 2016 was 22.3.
• 1 Million people aged 12 or older (0.45 Percent of Population) has a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017.
• More than 75 percent of local law enforcement agencies on the West coast of the United States report methamphetamine, Heroin, Cocaine and Fentanyl as the greatest drug threat in their region due to the proximity to Mexico.
• According to Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), nationwide treatment admissions for methamphetamine dropped from 67 per 101,000 individuals in 2005 to 49 per 100,000 in 2015. (1)
• About 18 percent of all drug overdose deaths involve methamphetamine in 2017, and 50 percent involved opioids and fentanyl. (2)
• In 2018, 5 of the 12 NDEWS sites reported increases in methamphetamine overdose deaths in the states of Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Georgia.
(1)Moszczynska A. Neurobiology and clinical manifestations of methamphetamine neurotoxicity. Psychiatric Times 2016 Sept 30.
(2) CDC. CDC Wonder Multiple Cause of Death.