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FAQ About Meth



meth addiction treatment and drug rehab centers

Q.) What is meth?

A.) Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central nervous system. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth is made of highly volatile, toxic substances (based on such chemical "precursors" as methylamine and amyl amine) that are melded in differing combinations, forming what some have described as a "mix of laundry detergent and lighter fluid."


Q.) What are the slang terms for meth?

A.) Street names for the drug include "speed," "meth," "crystal," and "crank." Crystallized methamphetamine known as "ice," "crystal," or "glass," is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug.


Q.) How is meth used?

A.) Meth can either be snorted or injected, or in its crystal form 'ice' smoked in a pipe, and brings on a feeling of exhilaration and a sharpening of focus. Smoking meth results in an instantaneous dose of almost pure drug to the brain, giving a huge rush followed by a feeling of euphoria for anything from 2-16 hours.


Q.) How long do the effects of meth last?

A.) The effects of meth can last 6 to 8 hours. After the initial "rush," there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.


Q.) What are the effects of meth?

A.) Meth's effects increases arousal in the central nervous system by pumping up levels of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. At low doses, meth boosts alertness and blocks hunger and fatigue. At higher doses, meth causes exhilaration and euphoria. At very high doses, the effects of meth can cause agitation, paranoia, and bizarre behavior.


Q.) What are the psychological effects of meth?

A.) Anxiety, emotional swings, and paranoia are the most common psychological effects due to chronic use of meth. Symptoms increase with long-term use, and can involve paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Violence and self-destructive behavior are common.


Q.) What are the side effects of meth?

A.) The side effects of meth include: paranoia, short term memory loss, wild rages and mood swings as well as damage to your immune system.

Meth side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing "voices")
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Aggression
  • Suspiciousness, severe paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Long periods of sleep ("crashing" for 24-48 hours or more)
  • Prolonged sluggishness, severe depression
  • Weight loss, malnutrition, anorexia
  • Itching (illusion that bugs are crawling on the skin)
  • Welts on the skin
  • Involuntary body movements
  • Paranoid delusions

Q.) What is meth addiction?

A.) Meth addiction has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Low-intensity abuse describes a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug but uses meth on a casual basis by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically addicted to meth and prefer to smoke or inject meth to achieve faster and stronger high. Binge abusers use meth more than low-intensity abusers but less than high-intensity abusers. As far as we know, meth does not create a physical addiction in the user although meth is extremely psychologically addictive.


Q.) How widespread is meth addiction?

A) Meth addiction, long reported as the dominant drug problem in the San Diego, CA, area, has become a substantial drug problem in other sections of the West and Southwest, as well. There are indications that it is spreading to other areas of the country, including both rural and urban sections of the South and Midwest. Meth, traditionally associated with white, male, blue-collar workers, is being used by more diverse population groups that change over time and differ by geographic area.

According to the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 4.9 million people (2.3 percent of the population) have tried meth at some time in their lives. In 1994, the estimate was 3.8 million (1.8 percent), and in 1995 it was 4.7 million (2.2 percent).

Data from the 1996 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which collects information on drug-related episodes from hospital emergency departments in 21 metropolitan areas, reported that meth-related episodes decreased by 39 percent between 1994 and 1996, after a 237 percent increase between 1990 and 1994. There was a statistically significant decrease in methamphetamine-related episodes between 1995 (16,200) and 1996 (10,800). However, there was a significant increase of 71%between the first half of 1996 and the second half of 1996 (from 4,000 to 6,800).


Q.) What are the symptoms of meth withdrawal?

A.) Meth withdrawal, length and severity of depression is related to how much and how often Meth was used. Withdrawal symptoms including, cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion, restlessness, insomnia, deep or disturbed sleep, may last up to 48 hours.

Meth Withdrawal symptoms included but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Long, disturbed periods of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Intense hunger
  • Moderate to severe depression
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Anxiety

Q.) What are the symptoms of a overdose of meth?

A.) An overdose can occur at relatively low levels (50 milligrams of pure meth for a non-tolerant user). Metabolic rates vary from person to person, and the strength of the Meth varies from batch to batch, so there is no way of stating a "safe" level of use. Because stimulants such as meth affect the body's cardiovascular and temperature-regulating systems, physical exertion increases the hazards of Meth use. Methamphetamine kills by causing heart failure, brain damage and stroke.

Symptoms of a Meth overdose include:

  • Sudden and dangerous increase in blood pressure
  • Dangerous rise in body temperature
  • Sweating
  • User could see spots (due to pressure on the nerves of eye)
  • Chances of heart attack, stroke, or coma.
  • High fever
  • Convulsions
  • Cardiovascular collapse

Q.) How is meth produced?

A.) Methamphetamines can be produced virtually anywhere. Motel rooms, trailer parks, and suburban homes can all be turned into clandestine "meth" labs capable of producing substantial quantities of the drug. The technical know-how needed to produce methamphetamines can easily be found on the Internet. These peculiarities make the production of methamphetamine unique and especially difficult to control. Recent analyses have indicated that methamphetamine from these labs can be as high as 97-99 percent pure.

About the only thing that stands in the way of widespread production and distribution of methamphetamine is the limited availability of the chemicals required to make it. Ephedrine and hydriotic acid, two components of methamphetamine, are tightly controlled in the United States. Yet the recent surge in methamphetamine use suggests that drug traffickers are finding ways around this impediment.

Although the precursor chemicals may be effectively regulated in the United States, in Mexico they are not. Highly organized Mexican drug trafficking syndicates have taken advantage of their country's lenient regulatory practices to dominate the United States' methamphetamine trade. Utilizing the same trafficking routes through which up to 70 percent of the cocaine arriving in the United States now passes, the Mexican trafficking organizations have been able to deliver the chemicals needed to produce methamphetamine to associates living in the United States. These associates then "cook-up" and distribute the final product. In addition to this practice of illicit chemical diversion, these criminal groups also smuggle methamphetamine produced in Mexico to the United States.


Q.) When did the use of meth start?

A.) Amphetamines - Amphetamine, dextroamphetamine and methamphetamine are collectively referred to as amphetamines. Their chemical properties and actions are so similar that even experienced users have difficulty knowing which drug they have taken.

Amphetamine was first marketed in the 1930s under the name Benzedrine in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion. By 1937, amphetamine was available by prescription in tablet form and was used in the treatment of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy and something called minimal brain dysfunction (MBD), which today is called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). During World War II, amphetamine was widely used to keep the soldiers going. During this period, both dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methamphetamine (Methedrine) became easily available.

As use of amphetamines spread, so did the tendency to become addicted. Amphetamines became a cure-all for helping truckers to complete their long routes without falling asleep, for weight control, for helping athletes to perform better and train longer, and for treating mild depression. Intravenous amphetamine abuse spread among a subculture known as "speed freaks." As time went on, it became evident that the dangers of abuse of these drugs outweighed most of their therapeutic uses.

In 1965, greater attempts to control amphetamines were instituted with amendments to the federal food and drug laws to curb the black market in amphetamines. Many pharmaceutical amphetamine products were removed from the market and doctors prescribed those that remained with reluctance. In order to meet the ever increasing black market demand for amphetamines, illegal laboratory production mushroomed, especially methamphetamine laboratories on the West Coast. Today, most amphetamines distributed to the black market are produced in clandestine laboratories.