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What is Methamphetamine?
A) Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related
to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central
nervous system. Street names for the drug include "speed,"
"meth," "crystal," and "crank."
Methamphetamine is used in pill form, or in powdered form
by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine
known as "ice," "crystal," or "glass,"
is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug.
How widespread is Methamphetamine addiction?
Methamphetamine use has spread to all areas of the United States
and continues to be on an upswing. Estimates from the Drug Abuse
Warning Network (DAWN) indicate that methamphetamine-related
emergency room episodes increased 346 percent from 1991 to 1995.
What are the effects of Methamphetamine addiction?
A methamphetamine-induced "high" artificially boosts
self-confidence, many users are overcome by a so-called "superman
syndrome." In this state, methamphetamine abusers ignore
their physical limitations and try to do things which they are
normally incapable of performing. Meth is highly addictive because
people often continue using the drug to avoid an inevitable
crash that comes when the drugs' positive effects begin to wear
off. Even first time users experience many of meth's negative
negative effects include, but are not limited to, the following:
Severe amphetamine induced depression and/or psychosis
Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system, causing
chemical reactions in the brain and tricking the body into believing
it has unlimited energy supplies and draining energy reserves
needed in other parts of the body. This is why meth addicts
tend to stay awake for long periods of time and then eventually
crash, feeling tired, depressed and much worse than they did
before they took the drug. Chemical imbalances in the brain
and sleep deprivation commonly associated with continued meth
use result in hallucinations, extreme paranoia and often bizarre,
causes extensive damage to the body, and can cause death or
permanent physical damage.
effects of methamphetamine use include:
Abnormally high blood pressure; rapid and irregular heart rate
and rhythm; seizures; damage to blood vessels in the brain (stroke);
accumulation of excess fluid in lungs, brain tissue and skull;
continuous/excessive dilation of the pupils; impaired regulation
of heat loss; Hyperpyrexia (body temperatures higher than 104°);
internal bleeding; damage to other organs caused by disruption
of blood flow; and breakdown of muscle tissue, leading to kidney
to other drug substances, smoking and inhaling meth damages
the lungs and nasal passages, and intravenous use can lead to
spread of the AIDS virus.
drug appeals to the abuser because it increases the body's metabolism
and produces euphoria, alertness, and gives the abuser a sense
of increased energy. But high doses or chronic use of meth,
also known as "speed," "crank," and "ice,"
increases nervousness, irritability, and paranoia.
How is Methamphetamine used?
Methamphetamine addiction has three stages:: low intensity,
binge, and high intensity. The binge and high-intensity abusers
smoke or inject meth to achieve a faster and stronger high;
the patterns of abuse differ in the frequency in which the drug
is abused and the stages within their cycles.
binge abuse cycle is made up of these stages: rush, high, binge,
tweaking, crash, normal, and withdrawal.
(5-30 minutes) -The abuser's heartbeat races and metabolism,
blood pressure, and pulse soar. Feelings of pleasure.
(4-16 hours) -The methamphetamine addict often feels aggressively
smarter and becomes argumentative.
(3-15 days) -The methamphetamine addict maintains the high for
as long as possible and becomes hyperactive, both mentally and
-The most dangerous stage of the cycle. See section below.
(1-3 days) -The addict does not pose a threat to anyone. He
becomes very lethargic and sleeps.
(2-14 days) -The abuser returns to a state that is slightly
deteriorated from the normal state before the abuse.
(30-90 days) -No immediate symptoms are evident but the abuser
first becomes depressed and then lethargic. The craving for
methamphetamine hits and he may becomes suicidal. Taking methamphetamine
at any time during withdrawal can stop the unpleasant feelings
so, consequently, a high percentage of addicts in treatment
return to abuse.
abusers, often called "speed freaks," focus on preventing
the crash. But each successive rush becomes less euphoric and
it takes more meth to achieve it. The pattern does not usually
include a state of normalcy or withdrawal. High-intensity abusers
experience extreme weight loss, very pale facial skin, sweating,
body odor, discolored teeth and scars or open sores on their
bodies. The scars are the results of the abusers' hallucinations
of bugs on his skin, often referred to as "crank bugs,"
and attempts to scratch the bugs off.
The most dangerous stage of meth abuse for abusers, medical
personnel, and law enforcement officers is called "tweaking."
A tweaker is a methamphetamine addict who probably has not slept
in 3-15 days and is irritable and paranoid. Tweakers often behave
or react violently and if a tweaker is using alcohol or another
depressant, his negative feelings and associated dangers intensify.
The tweaker craves more meth, but no dosage will help re-create
the euphoric high, which causes frustration, and leads to unpredictability
and potential for violence.
tweaker can appear normal: eyes can be clear, speech concise,
and movements brisk. But a closer look will reveal the person's
eyes are moving ten times faster than normal, the voice has
a slight quiver, and movements are quick and jerky. These physical
signs are more difficult to identify if the tweaker is using
are often involved in domestic disputes and motor vehicle accidents.
They may also be present at "raves" or parties and
they may participate in spur-of-the-moment crimes, such as purse
snatchings or assaults, to support their habit.
Where does Methamphetamine come from?
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.
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
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.
When did Methamphetamine abuse start?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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