What is Crystal Meth? Facts, Effects, Side Effects and Dangers

Crystal meth is a narcotic that has a stimulatory effect on the central nervous system (psychostimulant). It is known by several different street names globally including ‘meth’, ‘ice’, ‘white’, ‘snap’, ‘crank’, ‘P’, ‘tik’, ‘batu’ and ‘shabu’. The popularity of crystal meth, apart from it being highly addictive and the usual euphoria associated with illicit drug use, is that it is cheap when compared to other illicit psychostimulants like cocaine. Crystal meth use has spiked throughout the world and is a common drug among teenagers and young adults, thereby leading to a life of addiction.

Facts About Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine and other amphetamines are a group of prescription drugs used in medicine for the treatment of among other conditions, ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and obesity. Crystal meth is an illicit form of this psychoactive drug, manufactured in crude laboratories and sometimes mixed or ‘cut’ with cheap over-the-counter substances such as rat poison, fertilizer and even lithium from batteries. Its popularity among drug dealers is that it is very easy to manufacture with most of the raw materials being sourced easily from over-the-counter medication like cold and allergy medicines, it is highly addictive thereby ensuring return of the customer and does not need to be imported from foreign locations.

Crystal meth is only one form of illicit methamphetamine. It looks like small chunks of white crystals hence the common names such as ‘ice’ and ‘whites’. Crystal meth is usually smoked which is one of the fastest routes of methamphetamine administration, creating a euphoria within 5 to 10 seconds. It can also be injected and is rarely ingested. Due to the corrosive substances within crystal meth, it causes tooth decay when smoked and the dental effects are one of the characteristic features of an addict. Other features such as baggy eyes, dark lips, significant weight loss and changes in personality also make crystal meth users easy to spot.

Effects of Crystal Meth

Crystal meth causes a flood of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Usually dopamine is released in small quantities in the reward centers of the brain and this is associated with pleasure in activities like eating and sex. It is the gratification that one experiences with these activities. Prescription methamphetamines also increase dopamine secretion but this is carefully regulated. However, with crystal meth use, the release is massive and induces a state of euphoria. This can last anywhere between 2 to 24 hours during which time a user will also experience :

  • Increased energy levels
  • Raised alertness and concentration
  • Reduction in hunger
  • Greater self confidence

However, there are also numerous negative effects that accompany crystal meth use, including paranoia, aggression, anxiety and depression. As with any drug, the individual tolerance increases over time and a user will require larger amounts of the drug to elicit the same effect.

Side Effects and Dangers of Crystal Meth

The effects of crystal meth can sometimes make it appear to be a desirable drug. It is therefore popular among club goers who want the energy and exhilaration of a night of fun and partying.  However, crystal meth use is associated with a host of dangerous effect which can even be fatal. It can increase the heart rate and blood pressure and lead to palpitations often accompanied by sweating. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and insomnia are some of the other negative effects.

Some of the more dangerous effects of crystal meth use includes hyperthermia, brain damage, heart attacks, and strokes. This can lead to a coma or even death. Despite these dangers, the highly addictive nature of crystal meth compels users to keep consuming crystal meth, in increasing doses as time goes by. Rehabilitation and recovery is extremely difficult as is the case with most narcotic substances and crystal meth addiction is often reported to have some of the lowest rates of recovery.

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