Commonly Abused Drugs –

Methamphetamine

Scientific name: N-methyl-alpha-methylphenethylamine.

Classification: Neurotoxin and psychostimulant.

Legal status in US: Illegal to possess, manufacture, sell or prescribe without legal accreditation. Is very occasionally used legally under strict control to treat depression, ADHD and obesity.

Origin: Synthetic blend of amphetamines and chemicals.

Estimated use: 11 million Americans have tried it at least once.

Street names:  Meth, Crystal Meth, Crystal, Ice, Chalk, Glass, Tina.

Appearance: White odorless crystals, sometimes powdery, with bitter taste.

Other forms: "Crank" is low-grade, low purity methamphetamine. The crystals appear dirtier. "Lith" is a paste made using lithium from batteries.

Administering: Can be swallowed, injected, snorted or smoked.

The Hazards of Meth Labs 

Methamphetamine is made using a dangerous combination of chemical ingredients. A "meth lab" is an illegal and clandestine location where the drug is manufactured.

Some of the most commonly used ingredients for manufacturing or cooking meth include ephedrine, phosphorus, hydrochloric acid, pseudoephedrine, anhydrous ammonia and various household solvents. Sometimes even the lithium strips from batteries are used in the process.

During and after manufacturing, poisonous gases and toxic wastes are produced. These pose an extreme danger of explosion, fire and contamination. Producing meth endangers the lives of those making it and those in the surrounding area. Proper clean up requires a highly trained team. Clean up teams operate at great risk due to the unstable and toxic nature of the chemicals and because they are never quite sure what materials may have been used.

Methods of Taking Meth

The chunky crystals are administered by swallowing, smoking or snorting. Some users dissolve them in water or alcohol and then inject intravenously or even syringe the liquid into the rectum.

Short-Term Effects of Using Methamphetamine

Meth has a strong effect on the central nervous system. The effects of one dose can last from four to eight hours. A user will usually experience alertness, increased energy, dry mouth, lack of appetite, flushed and clammy skin, rapid eye movements, dilated pupils, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

Some users display difficulty speaking and can behave in erratic and even violent ways.

A large dose or overdose of methamphetamine can cause nausea, vomiting, extreme violence, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, hearing things, delusions, convulsions, seizure, stroke, cardiac arrest, and death.

Meth has such a strong and immediate effect on the brain that users are known to become desperate for more of the drug - even after just one use - to take away the after-effects.

Long-Term Effects of Using Methamphetamine 

When a person uses this drug for a prolonged period of time, very severe changes occur.

Initially the person may experience depression, severe mood swings, feelings of rage, dramatic weight loss, blurred vision, dizziness, malnutrition and anxiety.

Further abuse will cause "meth mouth"*, sores on the body, shocking change of appearance, paranoia, hallucinations, inflamed lining of the heart, psychotic episodes, brain damage and possibly death.

* "Meth mouth" is the term given to dental conditions that arise from abusing the drug. It is characterized by severe tooth decay, loss of enamel, gum disease, teeth falling out, and teeth fracturing easily.

Meth Addiction Treatment 

Chronic meth use will cause chemical changes in the brain. Its effects on the brain will persist for a long time after a person stops taking the drug.

Professional treatment is definitely required. Withdrawal symptoms are very severe. Always seek help from a rehab center or professional and ensure treatment for addiction is handled under careful supervision.

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