Methamphetamine

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Pure Crystal Meth
Chemical structure of Meth

Methamphetamine (also called meth or speed) is a man-made stimulant drug.[1][2] Many people use it illegally, but it is occasionally used legally by prescription to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obesity as "Desoxyn".[1][3][4]

Methamphetamine has two isomers, "left-handed" and "right-handed". Left-handed methamphetamine helps fight stuffy nose and is legal. Right-handed methamphetamine makes people feel high and is mostly illegal. This page is mostly about the right-handed form.

Methamphetamine is very addictive.[2] This means that when people start taking the drug, they will want to keep taking more, even if it is making them sick.

Methamphetamine can be in powder or crystal form, and can be snorted, smoked, injected, or eaten.[5][6] In its smoked form, methamphetamine is known as "ice," "crystal," "crank," "batu," "barang," "cerita," or "glass".

History[change | change source]

Methamphetamine has been around for a very long time, though the procedures for manufacturing the drug have changed throughout the years and made it much more potent. In Germany, in the late 1800s, amphetamine was developed, and in 1919, Japan created methamphetamine, which was easier to produce than amphetamine. The drug was widely used in combat during World War II to promote wakefulness. After World War II, there was an epidemic of methamphetamine abuse in Japan, according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

Ways of using methamphetamine (routes of administration)[change | change source]

Snorting[change | change source]

When methamphetamine is snorted, the crystals are ground up and made into little lines (also called rails). Then they are inhaled through the nose with rolled-up paper, rolled-up dollar bills, empty plastic pen tubes, short plastic straws, or other things that can be made into a small "tube" shape.

When methamphetamine is snorted, its effects last longer than when it is smoked or injected. The effects can last as long as twelve hours.[7] However, it takes longer to feel the effects,[6] and there is not as strong of a "rush" (a very happy feeling called euphoria).[8]

Snorting methamphetamine can damage the nasal septum on the inside of the nose. Also, if people share the same snorting tube, they can get infections.

Smoking[change | change source]

When methamphetamine is smoked, the crystals are placed into a glass pipe (called a "meth pipe") or a hollowed-out lightbulb. The crystals are warmed up from underneath by a flame (like from a lighter or matches). The methamphetamine is not actually "smoked" this way; it is heated up until it melts. When it melts, it turns into a gas that the user then breathes in.

Smoking methamphetamine causes euphoria to happen very quickly in the person using it, and causes strong euphoria. However, the vapor (gas) can damage the lungs.

Injecting[change | change source]

Methamphetamine can be mixed with water, then put into a needle and injected. Methamphetamine can be injected under the skin (this is called "skin-popping"); into a muscle (intramuscular injection); or into a vein (intravenous inection). Injecting methamphetamine into a vein causes the quickest, strongest euphoria.

Injecting methamphetamine can damage the body in many ways. It is very addictive. People can get infections (including HIV, hepatitis C, and many others) from dirty needles. People sharing a needle can also cause diseases in their blood.

Eating[change | change source]

If methamphetamine is eaten, it gets absorbed into the body from the digestive system. Although the effects take longer to be felt when compared to other routes of administration (between fifteen and forty five minutes), they tend to outlast the highs achieved through smoking, injecting, and snorting. The onset is comparatively gentler, but can cause gastrointestinal problems for the user and is not considered one hundred percent safe. The body naturally filters out some toxins when methamphetamine is ingested orally, but due to the potency of the drug, addiction is still a strong risk factor.

Effects[change | change source]

Desired effects[change | change source]

Desired effects are the things people want to feel when they take methamphetamine. These include:

  • Euphoria
  • Having a lot of energy
  • Being able to stay awake for a long time
  • Losing weight
  • numbing emotions

Adverse effects[change | change source]

Adverse effects are the bad things that using methamphetamine can cause. Methamphetamine has many adverse effects. For example:

Addiction[change | change source]

Methamphetamine is very addictive.[2][9] This means that when people start taking the drug, they will want to keep taking more, even if it is making them sick or depressed.[10]

One of the reasons methamphetamine users who quit the drug go back to using it is the craving to use more because of how good it feels. The euphoria is so strong that many users claim to have an uncontrollable urge to get more of the drug after using it.[11] Cravings to use more methamphetamine can make the user obsessed with getting more and getting the same high.

When people are addicted to methamphetamine, they can also have withdrawal symptoms[12] when they do not take the drug after the high goes away. Withdrawal symptoms can include a wide range of feelings of emotional pain or suffering. Without methamphetamine, addicts can feel anhedonia. This means they cannot feel good without using the drug.

Dependence

Methamphetamine can make a user psychologically dependent. This means that without using the drug, someone who is dependent experiences withdrawal symptoms. These include depression, anxiety, paranoia, not being able to sleep and other symptoms involving what's going on in the user's head. These symptoms are more intense in methamphetamine users than other drug users.

Physical dependence is when a user experiences withdrawal symptoms like, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold sweats, muscle and joint pain and other symptoms involving negative things happening to the user's body. Some who are physically dependent report pain all throughout their body and not going away for days or weeks. Physical dependence is more common among people who use opioids (strong, addictive pain relievers that can cause euphoria in non-medical situations) like morphine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. Physical dependence doesn't happen in users of stimulant drugs like methamphetamine.

Overdose[change | change source]

Overdosing (commonly called "OD'ing") on methamphetamine (taking too much) can make a person very sick. Some of the symptoms of methamphetamine overdose are very dangerous, and can even kill a person. Methamphetamine overdoses resulting in the user dying are very rare, but in once instance in Thailand, a dose of 200mg in 2 people's systems was enough to kill them. Overdosing on the drug can cause:[13]

"Meth Mouth"[change | change source]

A suspected case of meth mouth

"Meth Mouth" is a term used to describe destroyed or decayed teeth in people that use methamphetamine. Meth mouth can happen very quickly. A new addict can go from having healthy teeth to losing all of their teeth in as little as one year. The decay (rotting teeth) is not caused by methamphetamine itself, but by users not brushing their teeth, having a lot of sugary drinks, and having dry mouth.

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of a methamphetamine addict is 5–10 years.[14]

Other effects on the body[change | change source]

Methamphetamine's effects on the body can include:[15]

Effects on feelings and behavior[change | change source]

Methamphetamine's effects on feelings and behavior can include:[15]

Long-term effects[change | change source]

Taking methamphetamine for a too long can cause Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, a teenager taking methamphetamine can show symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.[16]

People who take methamphetamine over a long period of time time often have serious psychological problems, such as:[13]

  • Mood swings (very quick changes in mood like quickly going from calm to angry)
  • Delusions (believing things that are not true)
  • Very bad paranoia

Co-occurring disorders[change | change source]

Some of the mental health disorders that often occur with methamphetamine addiction include:[17]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "METHAMPHETAMINE (Trade Name: Desoxyn®; Street Names: Meth, Speed, Crystal, Glass, Ice, Crank, Yaba)" (PDF). Office of Diversion Control. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "NIDA – Research Report Series – Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction". drugabuse.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  3. "DESOXYN" (PDF). accessdata.fda.gov. Food and Drug Administration. pp. 1, 7. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  4. "CRS Report for Congress" (PDF). house.gov. May 22, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 5, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  5. "NIDA – Research Report Series – Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction". drugabuse.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Methamphetamine Fast Facts". justice.gov. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  7. "Illinois Attorney General – Basic Understanding Of Meth". illinoisattorneygeneral.gov. Archived from the original on September 10, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  8. "CEWG Publications – 6/99 Seattle Advance Report – Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse – NIDA". archives.drugabuse.gov. Archived from the original on August 18, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  9. "Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment Options". River Oaks. Retrieved 2021-02-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "What are the Dangers of Methamphetamine Abuse?". Project Know. Retrieved 2021-05-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Effects of Meth on the Body | What Does Meth Do to Your Body?". DrugAbuse.com. Retrieved 2021-08-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms & Treatment (+ Timeline)". Oxford Treatment Center. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Heller, MD, MHA, Jacob L. (April 5, 2013). "Methamphetamine Overdose". United States National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved December 31, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. "WHAT IS THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A METHAMPHETAMINE ADDICT?". DRS. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "DrugFacts: Methamphetamine". www.drugabuse.gov. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. January 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  16. "Signs of Methamphetamine use in youths – Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information – Vermont Department of Health". healthvermont.gov. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  17. "Methamphetamine and Co-occurring Disorders". Laguna Treatment Hospital. Retrieved 2021-02-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)