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Meth or Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal Meth - Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a central nervous system stimulant with a high potential addiction, abuse and dependence.

What is the scope of methamphetamine abuse in the US? Methamphetamine abuse, long reported as the dominant drug problem in the San Diego, CA, area, has become a substantial drug problem in other sections of the West and Southwest.

STREET NAMES: Speed, Crank, Crystal, Meth, Uppers, Bennies, Whiz, Billy, Tweak, Bitch are a few of the common names for this class of drugs.

Other Forms: Pharmaceutical drugs that are also amphetamines are Dexedrine, Desoxyn, Ritalin and Cylert.

Methamphetamine, a potent stimulant of the amphetamine class of drugs, is usually illicitly manufactured and sold in powder, liquid, or tablet form. Normally mixed with various cutting agents (the purity varies), methamphetamine is the commonly abused member of the amphetamine class, which includes Benzedrine, biphetamine and Dexedrine. These drugs have limited but legitimate medical uses for hyperactive children, severe obesity, narcolepsy, and depression; they are consumed by oral ingestion, sniffing or injection. (2)

Many regular users inject methamphetamine every four to five hours. A first-time user can remain high for up to twenty-four hours. On a "run," users may inject every hour or so until they finally stop, or "crash," due to exhaustion. After sleeping for eighteen to forty-eight hours, the user will awaken depressed, hungry, and then craving methamphetamine will begin another "speed-run."

Habitual users will inject about 0.25 grams ( teaspoon) to 0.5 grams at a time; users on a binge have been known to inject as much as 1,000 milligrams every two to three hours. When the drug is injected, a "rush" or "flash" of intense euphoria occurs within seconds and lasts from four to eight hours. When the drug is consumed orally, the effects will occur in twenty to thirty minutes but there may be no rush or euphoria as with injection. Snorting produces similar effects, but they are not as intense. Low doses of methamphetamine stimulate the central nervous system, resulting in increased blood pressure, respiration and pulse rate. Short-term use affects one's ability to drive a car, do complex mental tasks, or perform precise muscle functions; high doses depress the central nervous system and may cause sedation.

Although only a blood or urine test can give a definite diagnosis of methamphetamine use, however use can be suspected if a person has such symptoms as enlarged pupils or a pupils that react slowly to light challenges; acne or chapped lips; needle marks on the arms; an underweight or undernourished appearance; hyperactivity (the person walks or talks too fast); violent, argumentative, unpredictable tendencies; an inability to concentrate, reason, or remember; insomnia; paranoid or delusional behavior; or sores on the face, arms, or legs (caused by excessive scratching). Because of the aforementioned effects, the person on methamphetamine is often violent and is probably one of the most dangerous drug users in society.

Chronic use produces many physical, mental, and social complications, including sinusitis, bronchitis, and respiratory ailments; nasal ulcers and/or perforation of the nasal septum; paranoia; mental confusion and forgetfulness; severe depression and lack of energy between doses; addiction or dependence; loss of interest and motivation in work or school; chemical changes in the brain; a distorted sense of time (the person is frequently late or forgets appointments); violence or fights; family and interpersonal difficulties; switches to heroin or alcohol; and frequent accidents. Alcohol and other drugs multiply the influence of methamphetamine and its relatives, and such combinations of drugs commonly cause accidents.

It's not unusual to become addicted to methamphetamine. Withdrawal from it stimulates several symptoms, including severe depression, lack of energy, sleep disorders, tremor, muscle aches, nausea, and an intense craving for methamphetamine; these symptoms are mainly resolved after about three weeks. The methamphetamine user who consumes the drug less often than once a day is probably not addicted. To cease entirely, this infrequent user usually needs to solve personal problems related to stress, peers, family, interpersonal relations, motivation, self-esteem, or life-style. Persons who use methamphetamine several times a day, however, may require rehabilitation to terminate use of the drug.

Research shows that the vast majority of persons who cannot stop consuming methamphetamine have altered the chemistry in their nervous systems to the point where their bodies crave the substance. The major problem is that methamphetamine drives out the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin; when this happens and methamphetamine isn't taken, withdrawal symptoms set in.

Below is the description used in classification of Amphetamine Addiction used in the DSM-IV (3) Amphetamine Dependence

The patterns of use and course of Amphetamine Dependence are similar to those of Cocaine Dependence because both substances are potent central nervous system stimulants with similar psychoactive and sympathomimetic effects. However, amphetamines are longer acting than cocaine and thus are usually self-administered less frequently. As with Cocaine Dependence, usage may be chronic or episodic, with binges ("speed runs") punctuated by brief drug-free periods. Aggressive or violent behavior is associated with Amphetamine Dependence, especially when high doses are smoked (e.g., ice') or administered intravenously. As with cocaine, intense but temporary anxiety, as well as paranoid ideation and psychotic episodes that resemble Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type, are often seen, especially in association with high-dose use. Tolerance to amphetamines develops and often leads to substantial escalation of the dose. Conversely, some individuals with Amphetamine Dependence develop reverse tolerance (sensitization). In these cases, small doses may produce marked stimulant and other adverse mental and neurological effects.