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Article Summary

About Crystal Meth

"Crystal Meth" is one of the street names used for methamphetamine. It is also known as "speed," "meth" or "chalk." In its smoked form, it can be referred to as "ice," "crystal," "crank," and "glass." Methamphetamine belongs to a family of drugs called amphetamines - powerful stimulants that speed up the central nervous system. The drug can be made easily in clandestine laboratories with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. Methamphetamine is a drug with high potential for widespread abuse.

When methamphetamine is injected or taken by mouth, the effects may last 6 to 8 hours. When it is smoked, the effects can last 10 to 12 hours. As with other amphetamines, users experience increased wakefulness, decreased appetite and a sense of well being when they take the drug. Often people that use methamphetamines use it in a "binge and crash pattern" which can have harmful effects on the person's health and can lead to dependence on the drug.

Crystal Meth can be smoked, snorted, taken orally, or injected. Depending on how it is taken, the drug can alter mood differently:

  1. Smoking or injecting Crystal Meth can produce effects within seconds.
  2. With smoking or IV methamphetamine use, there is an intense rush or "flash" that lasts only a few minutes, which is described as being extremely enjoyable.
  3. Snorting or oral ingestion produces euphoria - a high, but not intense as with smoking or injection.

The rush and the high are believed to be due to the release of high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that is responsible for pleasure.

Crystal Meth Effects

The way methamphetamine makes you feel depends on a variety of factors that include, weight, age, how much you've taken, how long you've taken it, the method used to take it in, etc. Methamphetamine produces effects like euphoria and stimulation that are much like cocaine, except the effects last much longer. Methamphetamine is in the brain for longer, which can lead to prolonged stimulant effects.

  1. Tolerance can develop with long-term use of methamphetamine, which means the user will need larger amounts of drug to achieve the same desired effects. Long-term use can result in addiction.
  2. High dose use can result in violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia and weight loss.
  3. Methamphetamine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and death.
  4. Other effects include risk of convulsions, respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia.
  5. With long-term use, psychosis can develop including paranoia, mood disturbances, delusions and hallucinations. For example, people may feel the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, and as a result scratch and pick at their skin until there are open sores, which can become infected.
  6. Another problem found among Crystal Meth users is "Meth mouth." Many users often have rotting teeth and it's not known exactly why, although it may be because of a reduced blood flow to the teeth and gums, and dry mouth from less saliva.

Some of the warning signs for parents that your child may be using Crystal Meth include "Meth mouth," unexplained appetite loss, anorexia (with high dose and long-term use) or increased wakefulness and activity.


It is very important for parents and the general population to know the signs of an overdose to make sure it can be treated quickly and effectively. They include:

  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Faster breathing
  • Seizures or uncontrollable twitching
  • Overheating
  • Racing or irregular heart beat
  • Chest pain

The danger of overdose from methamphetamines substantially increases with poly-drug use. Among particularly dangerous drug combinations are methamphetamine combined with GHB, alcohol, ecstasy or Viagra.

If someone you know is overdosing, send for emergency medical help. Call 911 right away, because it could be a life or death situation.

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