Everything you need to know about crystal meth

Everything you need to know about crystal meth/ Crystal meth, or methamphetamine, is a stimulant drug that carries a high risk for physical dependence. In the United States, a different formulation of methamphetamine called Desoxyn is available by prescription to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Crystal meth has a number of street names, including ice and glass. It resembles shiny “rocks” or fragments of glass of varying sizes. It is the most potent form of meth.

The drug is odorless and colorless. As a stimulantTrusted Source, it speeds up activity in the central nervous system, which can cause a person to feel euphoric, powerful, and alert.

Illegal labs make the drug by combining ingredients derived from over-the-counter drugs, especially cough and cold medications, with toxic substances.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 0.9% of people in the U.S. will have used meth at some point during the last 12 months. In 2020, 23,837 people died of overdoses from stimulants in the U.S. Methamphetamine was responsible for most of these overdoses.

Recreational use

A picture of crystal meth crystals.
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Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant drug that can causeTrusted Source feelings of euphoria and high energy. People may choose meth because of these euphoric effects.

Meth can also cause rapid weight loss, a higher libido, and intense feelings of alertness and concentration.

Some people self-medicate for these effects, hoping to lose weight, improve their sexual performance, reduce depression, or concentrate more at work or school.

For most people, the effects of crystal meth last for 6–12 hours, making the “high” much longer than that of other stimulants, such as cocaine. Some people choose meth because of its longer lasting effects.

However, as with most addictive substances, the body begins to tolerate Trusted Source meth with prolonged use. This reduces the intensity of the high a person gets. It also reduces other desired effects of the drug, including improvements in libido and concentration. This tolerance may cause a person to use more crystal meth to get the same high they once got with a lower dose.

Over time, this can lead to addiction. People with a substance use disorder may use these types of drugs, and others, to feel normal. If they stop using them, they may experience painful withdrawal effects.

How do people take it?

A person can snort or inject crystal meth. The way a person takes meth may affect the high. For example, smoking offers a shorter and more intense high, including a “rush” when a person first smokes.

How crystal meth affects the brain

Crystal meth boostsTrusted Source the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and stops its reuptake. As a result, it increases the levels of dopamine in the body.

Dopamine plays Trusted Source an important role in motor function, motivation, reward, and how the brain experiences and interprets pleasure.

The dopamine rush in the reward centers of the brain gives a person a sense of euphoria soon after taking the drug.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), brain imaging studies on people who have inappropriately used methamphetamine for a long time suggest that dopamine system activity changes in such a way that it can seriously compromise a person’s verbal learning and motor skills.

Crystal meth can also severely affect the brain’s structure and function. It affects areas of the brain linked to emotion and memory, as well as structures associated with judgment. Due to this, it may radically change behaviors and emotions.

This may explain why people who chronically use crystal meth often develop emotional and cognitive difficulties.

Some of the changes to the brain that result from inappropriate crystal meth use remain long after a person has stopped taking the drug. Other changes to the brain may reverse after long periods of abstinence, but this could take a year or more.

Repeated use can have some psychological effects. Everything you need to know about crystal meth

These include:

  • anxiety, irritability, and aggressive or violent behavior
  • alertness and increased concentration
  • hyperactivity and insomnia
  • increased energy, libido, self-esteem, confidence, and sociability
  • delusions of grandeur with a sensation of power and invincibility
  • hallucinations and paranoia
  • psychomotor agitation and compulsive skin picking, leading to skin sores
  • repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • psychosomatic disorders, in which a mental disturbance causes an apparent physical symptom or ailment

When people take crystal meth regularly or in high dosages, it can cause drug-induced psychosis.

A person who regularly uses crystal meth also has a high risk of becoming overly reliant on the drug or developing a substance use disorder. Everything you need to know about crystal meth

How crystal meth affects the body

The drug can also lead to some physical effectsTrusted Source.

These include:

  • anorexia, meaning a loss of appetite
  • blurred vision
  • face sores
  • gum disease and cracked teeth
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and skin
  • hyperthermia, which is a high body temperature
  • flushing
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • numbness
  • pale skin
  • profuse sweating
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness, twitching, and tremors
  • abnormal heart rhythm, rapid heartbeat, and palpitations

Using the drug can lead to lowered inhibitions and behaviors that put the person in danger.

Chronic use or an overdose can lead to convulsions, stroke, and heart attack. It can even be fatal.

Oral decay

People who regularly use crystal meth may develop tooth decay, cracked or broken teeth, or gum disease.

Several factors contribute to tooth decay in people who use crystal meth:

  • They frequently grind and clench their teeth while high.
  • The use of the drug tends to dry the mouth, reducing the levels of protective saliva.
  • They experience a high and may crave sugary drinks.
  • People often neglect oral hygiene during the long lasting euphoric period.

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