Crystal Meth, or just meth, is the colloquial term for methamphetamine and is the most prominent form of the drug that is sold illegally on the streets. Crystal meth is the crystalline from of methamphetamines as opposed to the powder and rock forms of this drug. The crystalline form provides the most rapid access to the blood stream and therefore, produces that quickest and easiest high, which is the desired outcome that crystal meth users are seeking. Methamphetamine is a psych-stimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs. Clinically, methamphetamine increases alertness, concentration, and energy and in larger doses produces the desired euphoria. Along with this euphoria, is a feeling of increased sexual desire and self-esteem.
These clinical manifestations are the foundation of its street appeal and the psychological cause of its high addictive potential. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II Controlled Substance under the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of the United States Government.
The addiction at the physiological level comes from the drug's ability to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, that is part of man's reward systems that causes feeling of mental strength, self-confidence, and pleasure after performing pro-survival acts such as eating, sex or finishing a difficult task. By artificially stimulating the release of dopamine at elevated levels, the brain changes its relationship to this chemical and attempts to re-absorb the excess dopamine leaving the meth user in a state of depression or even symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia after prolonged use has been observed in 20% of meth users.
The damage that is done to the delicate dopamine uptake system will linger long after the discontinuation of the drug and the user will feel that the only way to end these anxiety-producing feelings is to use more of the poison that has produced the mental dysfunction. Crystal meth addicts report that these negative feelings will last up to a year or more after one has been using the drug daily for an extended period of time.
Chronic abuse or acute overdoses of meth cause physical damage to other parts of the body, including cardiovascular damage resulting in chronic high blood pressure and weakened blood vessels. The list of physical effects from normal doses of crystal meth use include anorexia, hyperactivity, headaches, rapid heart beats, blurred vision, dizziness, twitching, insomnia, with convulsions, heart attacks, strokes and death from chronic use or taking of high doses of this drug.
Crystal meth is a very seductive drug and since it produces elevated feelings that occur naturally in man, it has a very high addictive potential with many long-term or chronic users who expected to "just experiment" with the drug initially. Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin and chronic use is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's Disease and is responsible for causing persisting cognitive problems with one's memory and the inability to concentrate or stay on task long after the cessation of the use of the drug.
The metabolism of meth challenges the calcium/magnesium balance in the body causing a lowering of calcium, which leads to it being taken from the larger bones and the teeth to ensure that the heart has enough calcium to perform its functions. This robbing of calcium leads to meth addicts loosing their teeth a rates far above the normal population so much so that this problem has been given the name of meth mouth.
Methamphetamine isn't a recently discovered drug, but first synthesized from ephedrine in 1893 by the chemist Nagayoshi Nagal. The crystalline form was developed by Akira Ogata in 1919, however methamphetamine wasn't approved for commercial pharmaceutical use until 1943 when Abbott Labs requested approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to produce the drug for the treatment of narcolepsy, mild depression, parkinsonism, chronic alcoholism, cerebral arteriosclerosis and even hay fever. All of these "treatable" symptoms have been removed from the drug's present functions.
Once the FDA approved meth, it was given to the US military that were in combat in World War II. Millions of tablets of this drug were distributed throughout the war on both the Allied and Axis forces and from the elite forces to the combat soldiers. The ability to hide battle fatigue and remove many of the psychological barriers that are inherent in taking another human's life were seen as real benefits of this newly developed drug.
In 1983 laws were passed in the United States and the next year in Canada to prohibit the possession of chemical precursors and equipment that are used to manufacture "homemade" crystal meth. There are many recipes for the home manufacture of this dangerous drug, but they all require ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as the root from which the drug is altered to produce crystal meth. Many states as well as major pharmacy retailers have created laws and rules that limit the amount of "cold medications" that can be purchased over-the-counter that contain these drugs, which has helped to curb local manufacture of the drug, but have by no means stopped this illegal activity.
Many Midwestern states from Texas and Oklahoma to Michigan have enacted laws that have curtailed the ease of creating large home manufacturing labs, but new and easier synthesis recipes have allowed from what has been called "shake n' bake" labs that can operated on very small doses of ephedrine and to hide from detection, these have been found in motel rooms and there have even been cases of these labs operating in the back seat of cars being driven about town to hide from the detection of the lab's chemical odors.
The meth that can't be manufactured with home labs or diverted from US pharmaceutical companies is supplanted by smuggled crystal meth from other countries, mainly Mexico.
Crystal meth addiction is a severe problem in the United States and other affluent countries and is a major drug treatment challenge because of its highly toxic chemical nature. Few rehab programs address the physical toxic problems associated with meth addiction and certainly with the problematic physiological affects documented above. As with many illicit drugs, the ultimate challenge is education and prevention to combat the myths about how this drug is virtually harmless. Even the slightest investigation shows the tremendous dangers connected to the possession and use of this drug.
If you know someone suffering from methamphetamine addiction, please contact a Narconon drug rehabilitation counselor immediately.