01 May Crystal Meth Destroys the Body and Mind
Crystal meth is an illegal street drug that is highly addictive and terribly destructive. Although it comes from a prescription drug called methamphetamine, crystal meth is never safe to use. It becomes habit-forming very quickly and leads to numerous health problems as well as addiction. Many of the health issues caused by crystal meth are permanent.
What is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is an illegal form of a drug called methamphetamine. This is a prescription medication that belongs to the psychostimulant class. This means that it stimulates the central nervous system and alters the thinking, perceptions and mood of the user. As a prescription, methamphetamine is most commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Less often it may be used for obesity, narcolepsy, or severe cases of clinical depression. Effects of the drug on the mind and body include increased focus and energy, as well as mania and euphoria at higher doses. The pure, crystallized form of methamphetamine is a street drug called crystal meth, ice, crank, chalk, glass, speed, shards, crystal, and many other names.
Where Does It Come From?
All forms of methamphetamine are synthetic, meaning they are made in laboratories. It was first created over 100 years ago as a derivative of another synthetic drug, amphetamine. Prescribed methamphetamine may end up in the wrong hands when someone who has it for legitimate reasons gives it away or sells it.
Most commonly, however, crystal meth is created in makeshift laboratories. With chemicals that are easy to acquire and a little bit of equipment, it is possible to make crystal meth. It is very dangerous, though—people making meth in home labs often have accidents and explosions are not uncommon. The crystal meth made in home labs ends up on the street through drug dealers.
How Is It Used?
There are many ways in which an abuser may use crystal meth, but the most common method is to smoke it. Because it is a purified, crystalized form of the drug, it is possible to take it in by smoking. Alternatively, crystal meth may be crushed up and snorted or dissolved and injected. In the prescription form, methamphetamine is typically ingested as a pill or tablet.
What Are the Consequences of Using Crystal Meth?
There are many very serious and adverse consequences of using crystal meth, both in the short- and long-term, not least of which is addiction. Methamphetamine has a chemical structure that mimics a brain chemical that triggers a pleasure pathway. This pathway allows people to feel pleasant sensations. When overly stimulated—by drugs like crystal meth, for instance—the pathway becomes damaged. The crystal meth user finds that he needs more and more of the drug just to feel that natural sense of pleasure. Life without the drug becomes dreary and unpleasant. Withdrawal symptoms also make it difficult to quit using. These include extreme fatigue, intense cravings and depression.
Short-term consequences of using crystal meth include heavy sweating, acne, irritability, paranoia, headaches, anxiety, depression, bad breath, dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, high blood pressure and heavy, labored breathing. With long-term use, crystal meth users experience serious tooth decay, a nasty effect called meth mouth, liver and kidney damage, suicidal thoughts, psychotic behavior, permanent brain damage and even death.
What Are the Signs of Methamphetamine Addiction?
Crystal meth is one of the most addictive substances around. There is no such thing as casual use of this drug, because the chances of becoming dependent are so high. Look for some of the signs of addiction if anyone you know is using this drug:
- Excessive weight changes
- Unusual changes in behavior and in relationships
- Bad breath and tooth decay
- An unpleasant body odor
- Scratching and biting the face and mouth
- Memory loss
- Hallucinations and violent or aggressive behavior
When to Help
If anyone you know is using crystal meth, he needs help now. Addiction can happen so quickly that there is no time to waste in trying to get someone to stop using. Once dependence sets in, quitting becomes extremely difficult. Watch out for signs of overdose or allergic reaction. If you see any of these signs, seek emergency help right away:
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling in the face or throat
- Severe chest pain
- Pain in the face accompanied by headache and fever
- A severe nosebleed
- Serious abdominal pain
- Vomiting that brings up blood
- Redness and swelling around an injection site
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