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Article Summary

Meth Facts

  • Methamphetamine works by tricking the brain into releasing large amounts of dopamine, the brain chemical responsible for the sensation of pleasure and well-being.1
  • As an addict goes through meth withdrawal (a state known as "tweaking"), they can often become intensely paranoid and violent.1
  • Immediately after injection, the user experiences a "rush," a sudden feeling of intense pleasure. Snorting and oral ingestion of meth take several minutes to take effect and do not produce a rush in this way.1

Effects of Meth

  • Heavy usage often takes the form of binges, known as "runs," in which the addict injects meth every two to three hours. During a run the meth addict does not eat and stays awake for days at a time.1
  • Unlike opiates, methamphetamine often increases libido. Because of this, the drug is often used in conjunction with sex, which increases the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.1
  • Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.
  • An estimated 8.8 million people (4.0 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at some time in their lives.1
  • Methamphetamine comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or injected.1
  • Methamphetamine is commonly known as "speed," "meth," and "chalk." In its smoked form, it is often referred to as "ice," "crystal," "crank," and "glass."
  • Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that dramatically affects the central nervous system.1

BehavioralEffects of Meth

  • Methamphetamine has mood-altering effects, behavioral effects such as increased activity and decreased appetite, and a high lasting 8 to 24 hours.2
  • Although there is an initial general sense of well-being, methamphetamine use has been associated with both long- and short-term problems such as brain damage, cognitive impairment and memory loss, stroke, paranoia, anorexia, hyperthermia, hepatitis, HIV transmission, and violence.2
  • Researchers have reported that as much as 50 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of methamphetamine.2
  • Methamphetamine poses a particular problem because it can be produced in clandestine laboratories using over-the-counter drugs, house-hold products, and other readily available chemicals. These laboratories are subject to a high risk of explosion, causing fires and releasing toxic gases.2

1 NIDA Research Report: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction
2 Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force: Final Report (2000)
3 Homes Doubling as Drug Labs Pose Serious Dangers to Kids
4 Prescott Valley Tribune - WHITE LIES: Methamphetamine (August 2001)

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