Facts and Adverse Effects of Meth

Pleasure centers of the brain are adversely affected by the stimulant effects of the Methamphetamine (Meth) which is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant. Even more addictive than heroin. Meth is sometimes referred to as "Speed," "Chalk," "Ice," "Crystal," "Glass," "Crank," "Yaba," "Fire," Tina," and "Tweak." Meth releases high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhances mood and body movement, and regulates feelings of pleasure. With repeated use, Meth can "turn off" the brain's ability to produce dopamine, leaving users unable to experience any kind of pleasure from anything other than more and more Meth.

Meth is derived from amphetamine, and is commonly made using the base chemicals ephedrine or pseudoephedrine found in over-the-counter medicines. Other common household products can be added to make Meth, including: acetone (nail polish remover), iodine, anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), hydrochloric acid (pool chemicals), lithium (batteries), red phosphorus (matches or road flares), sodium hydroxide (lye), sulfuric acid (drain cleaner), and toluene (brake fluid).

Although there are multiple ways to produce Meth, most involve the use of toxic and volatile substances that can pose a threat to the surrounding area. An odor similar to that of cat urine and other offensive fumes often signify that an illegal Meth lab is in operation. When manufactured by amateurs, the production of Meth can be extremely dangerous and create harmful, toxic gases. One production method involves heating anhydrous ammonia - an extremely reactive ingredient that is prone to explosion. In fact, many illegal Meth labs are only discovered after fires or explosions occur due to the improper handling of these toxic chemicals. Clean-up is both hazardous and expensive.

Meth can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected, or inserted anally. Depending on the method of intake, the high from Meth can last from 6 to 24 hours. Injection, one of the more popular methods of administration, is associated with other serious risks such as skin rashes, often referred to as, "speed bumps," and infections at the injection site. Sharing needles when injecting Meth can spread deadly diseases such as hepatitis and HIV; additionally, these diseases are further spread through unprotected sex - a common activity among Meth addicts. While it is true that Meth sometimes increases sexual desire and stamina, it ultimately decreases the user's desirability and performance. Many Meth users admit the inability to reach an orgasm at all.

Users have also reported an increased level of energy, a decrease in appetite, and may be more likely to engage in reckless or unwanted sex while under the influence. Other common side effects include a lack of hygiene and personal care, anxiety, agitation, blurred vision, hallucinations, diarrhea, sleeplessness, and even stroke or heart attack. Without the drug, many users slip into a deep depression, making the cycle of addiction hard to break.

Meth's parent drug, amphetamine, was widely distributed to army personnel during World War II. Amphetamine-laced chocolate was routinely given to German soldiers. From 1942 to 1945, Adolf Hitler reportedly received daily Methamphetamine injections to treat depression and fatigue. Some attribute his Parkinson's-like symptoms to his use of this drug. Meth users are often seduced by the intensity of the initial high, a high many say is unlike anything they have experienced before. Almost immediately, users build up a tolerance for the drug, causing them to vary the quantity, frequency, or method of intake in an effort to recreate that first experience. This incites a form of binging known as a "run," sometimes using as much as a gram of the drug every 2 to 3 hours for several days until the drug is either gone or the user is too disoriented to continue.

Even with sustained low-level usage, a person will often begin to experience symptoms such as drug craving, extreme weight loss, loss of muscle tone, and tooth decay, along with withdrawal-related depression and other symptoms. High doses can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal levels, as well as cause convulsions. As tolerance sets in, the user will often begin to use Meth more frequently in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Although there are no physical manifestations of withdrawal syndrome when Meth usage is stopped, several symptoms including depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, extreme aggression, and an intense craving for the drug may occur.

Long-term Meth abuse may result in many damaging effects, including: violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling on the skin). Neurotoxicity (brain damage), irregular heartbeat, respiratory problems, and irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain--producing strokes, heart and kidney damage, cardiovascular collapse, and death are a few well known symptoms of frequent usage of this.