Methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly called crystal meth is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Slang terms for the drug include ‘crank,’ ‘ice,’ or ‘speed.’ Crystal meth can be smoked, injected, ingested, snorted, or taken rectally. Between 2015-2018, an estimated 1.6 million U.S. adults reported methamphetamine use with 22.3% reported injecting meth in 2018. (1)
Crystal meth is usually found as a white, odorless, bitter-tasting, crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol. It may take on different shades of yellow or blue depending on purity.
This chemical itself is dangerous even before it’s consumed as it is toxic and corrosive. Many of the chemicals used to produce crystal meth are either flammable or explosive or can be in combination. Crystal meth production generates toxic vapors and liquids that often cause water and soil pollution in the places where it is made.
Effects of Crystal Meth
Methamphetamines release dopamine, a neurochemical which is a component of the brain’s ‘pleasure center’. This leads to feelings of euphoria, a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. A person on a meth binge may stay awake for days with no desire for food or drink. Users of crystal meth often report feeling euphoria, tremendous amounts of energy, enhanced sexual performance, and reduced appetite.
The reasons why people use crystal meth vary. Women are more likely than men to use it, in part for weight loss. Men frequently report improved sexual performance as a motivator. Crystal meth can provide the energy to dance for hours and increase libido. This may explain its prevalence in club culture. It is also associated with high-risk sexual behavior. While crystal meth does not have the type of physical withdrawal effects associated with opioid, cessation of use often proves incredibly difficult.
Stopping a regular crystal meth habit suddenly and without a medical detox often results in some intensely unpleasant symptoms. These can include psychosis, extreme fatigue, depression and gnawing anxiety. Regular crystal meth users often go for days without sleeping, which has a severe effect on both mental and physical health. Most of us have seen the terrifying before and after photos of crystal meth users. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The effects crystal meth has on the mind and body are devastating.
There are several warning signs to look for if you suspect a loved one is using meth:
- Unusual Hyperactivity
- Twitching or jerky movements
- Dilated pupils or rapid eye movement
- Sudden weight loss
- Skin Sores
- Burns on lips or fingers
Consequences of Long-Term Use
Long-term use of crystal meth increases the user’s tolerance. Eventually, larger and more frequent doses are necessary to achieve the desired effect. Some of the Long-term consequences of crystal use can include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Heart problems
- Tooth decay
- Weight loss
There may be ongoing episodes of psychosis, severe craving, and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure or happiness). Treating crystal meth dependence can be challenging. It’s often difficult to get sufferers to willingly admit themselves for treatment. No pharmacological therapy has yet shown to be effective for treating methamphetamine dependence. (2) Typical treatments are offering patients tangible rewards to lead to stop them from using and therefore, the mainstays of treatment are contingency management and talk therapy. Treating psychological symptoms and participation in lifelong recovery programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous often proves the best route.
Crystal meth is illegal, addictive, and incredibly dangerous.
Dependence is a serious worldwide public health problem with major medical, psychiatric, financial, and legal consequences. Recovery is about you. There is help available. Harmony Oaks can provide the tools necessary to treat the addiction and help improve the quality of life. Contact us at (423) 708-4961.