What is methamphetamine?Alongside alcohol and marijuana, methamphetamine is currently one of the most frequently used and abused drugs. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive, extremely potent psycho-stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system.
Where does methamphetamine come from?Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in the 1890s. Ephedrine is similar in molecular structure to its derivatives, amphetamine and methamphetamine, and is derived from several shrub-like plants in the genus Ephedra.
What was methamphetamine used for historically?In the 1940s, the FDA approved methamphetamine for treating such things as narcolepsy, mild depression, chronic alcoholism and hay fever. Although most of these approvals were subsequently revoked, both methamphetamine and amphetamine are still currently FDA-approved for treating ADHD and obesity.
What is the difference between methamphetamine and amphetamine?Like methamphetamine, amphetamine is also derived from the genus Ephedra and works to stimulate dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. They have the same short and long-term effects, withdrawal symptoms and are both highly addictive drugs of abuse. The only difference is amphetamine is a controlled substance (in pill form) and while it is available on the illicit market, it is also marketed as a prescription drug. Amphetamine was synthesized in the 19th century for use as a decongestant. Today amphetamine can be found, as prescribed by a doctor, in several medical applications to treat such conditions as ADHD, brain injuries and chronic fatigue syndrome.
What are some common street names for methamphetamine?
How is it meth made?The main ingredients used to make crystal meth are ephedrine and pseudo ephedrine. Both of these ingredients are commonly found in cold and allergy medications. The most common way to produce methamphetamine is with a quick-cook process that only takes a few hours, wherein the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are reduced and the ephedrine is hydrogenated. In as early as the 1960s, people began making homemade methamphetamine for sale and/or personal use. As one of the most popular drugs of abuse, rampant homemade production of methamphetamine continues to this day. The process itself is very dangerous and can often result in explosions and/or deadly exposure to highly toxic chemicals. Methamphetamine production is especially dangerous for those who lack training in organic chemistry, as its production requires the safe handling of harmful chemicals and heavy metals as contaminants. White phosphorus in combination with sodium hydroxide can produce a highly poisonous phosphine gas, which can lead to meth lab explosions. Other harmful vapours associated with methamphetamine production include chloroform, ammonia, iodine, hydroiodic acid, mercury, hydrogen gas, ether, acetone, lithium and sodium. In an effort to save money, those who produce methamphetamine often cut meth with a number of different fillers. These fillers make methamphetamine use even more dangerous. While some fillers are sometimes benign and “harmless” other fillers can be quite toxic, unbeknownst to the user.
How can methamphetamine be administered?Just like crack cocaine, crystal meth is most often smoked in glass pipes. It can also be swallowed, inserted into the anus or urethra, snorted or injected. Meth injection can be dry or dissolved in water.
Why do people use meth?As a popular stimulant, meth increases concentration levels, energy and alertness. Many people also take meth as it decreases appetite and fatigue and leads to extremely rapid weight loss. Methamphetamine is only a short-term weight loss solution though. Once the user stops taking methamphetamine, any lost weight is quickly regained. This often leads to repeated and frequent use, especially since methamphetamine is highly addictive. Crystal meth is also popular for its long-lasting high, which can last as long as 12 hours. Additionally, methamphetamine users often take the drug to self-medicate depression, increase libido and enhance sexual stimulation and pleasure.
What are the common physical characteristics of a meth user?Meth users often demonstrate extreme energy, paranoia and/or aggressive behaviour. They are in a state of euphoria that can produce both auditory and visual hallucinations and substantial bouts of insomnia (that can last up to 2-3 days), which often causes them to act irrationally, irresponsibly, out-of-control and/or psychotic. Meth users often grind their teeth and obsessively pick at skin on the face and body.
What are the short-term effects of methamphetamine?Methamphetamine increases dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. This causes several short-term side effects including euphoria, increased energy and alertness, decreased appetite, decreased fatigue, depressive thoughts and/or elevated moods. Other short-term side effects include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, paranoia, psychosis, irritability, anxiety and excessive sweating.
What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine?Methamphetamine use causes long-term damage to brain chemistry and specifically in the neurotransmitter systems of the brain. This damage can reduce various cognitive abilities such as memory, reasoning, learning and judgment. Even after months of not using the drug, the brain is not entirely healed. Past users may also experience withdrawal symptoms, intense cravings and troubling nightmares for months on end.
Can you overdose on meth?Absolutely. The effects of methamphetamine use are extremely hard on the body. It increases heart rates, blood pressure and constricts blood vessels. These factors cause the organs of the body to work harder and often result in strokes, heart failure and/or kidney failure. Death as a result of a methamphetamine overdose is most commonly characterized by a comatose state, extreme shock and sudden kidney failure. Fatal meth overdoses ultimately result in the body’s entire circulatory system failing.
What are the effects of methamphetamine withdrawal?Meth withdrawal is most often characterized by extreme depression, anergia (lack of energy) and intense anhedonia (lack of motivation to perform normal tasks and/or experience pleasure). Other common symptoms include irritability, an increased appetite, feeling hopeless and fearful, anxiety, intense drug cravings, insomnia, nausea, heart palpitations, excessive sweating, shakiness and possible hyperventilation. The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms relies heavily on how much of the drug was consumed and for how long.
How is meth use associated with viruses like HIV and Hepatitis?Firstly, crystal meth has a tendency to increase sexual desire and enhance sexual pleasure. Since crystal meth also leaves the user uninhibited, this often results in uninhibited and unprotected sex. Secondly, users who take any kind of drug via injection run the risk of transmitting or contracting various viruses including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.