Crystal meth is part of a category of drugs known as “methamphetamines.” Methamphetamine (MA), which is known by various street names including “speed”, “meth”, “crystal meth” and “chalk”, is a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol.
It can be snorted, swallowed, injected or smoked. In its smokable form it is referred to as “ice”, “crank”, “crystal”. “glass” or “tina” because if its transparent, sheet-like crystals, and is smoked in a pipe like crack cocaine. The smoke is odourless and leaves a residue that may be resmoked. Immediately after smoking or injecting the drug, the user experiences an intense rush that lasts for only a few minutes but is extremely pleasurable. This rush is followed by a prolonged euphoria, or “high”. Snorting or taking the drug orally produces euphoria but not the rush. Snorting produces effects within 3-5 minutes and oral use produces effects withing 15-20 minutes. The duration of the effects can vary and depends on the amount taken. MA is a powerful stimulant that increases attention, decreases fatigue, increases activity, decreases appetite and increases respiration.
The actual prevalence of crystal meth use amongst adolescent students is low (4%) compared to alcohol (58%), marijuana (37%) and mushrooms (13%). However, this number jumps dramatically for street youth; 70% have used crystal meth.
The addictive potential of crystal meth is much higher than that of other drugs, meaning that it’s very difficult to use meth in moderation. Many people who try it, even experimentally, end up becoming dependent. Tolerance to the effects of methamphetamine builds up quickly in regular users, which means they need more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. When dependent users stop taking methamphetamine, they have strong cravings for the drug, and within a few days will experience withdrawal symptoms including stomach pain, hunger, headaches, shortness of breath, tiredness and depression.
Crystal meth can present very dangerous threats to people who use it occasionally, or even to first time users. Methamphetamine causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise. Since the content of the drug sold varies widely, it is difficult to judge the size of a dose. An overdose of methamphetamine can result in seizures, high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke and death. The risk of overdose is highest when the drug is injected.
The effects of crystal meth on the brain, body and behaviour can be severe and long-lasting. These include
// Delusional thoughts and psychosis
// Mood swings
// Rage and violence
// Possible long-term damage to brain cells
Below is the original article previously published in Drugs & Addiction Magazine.
January 13, 2015