Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is extremely addictive. It severely affects the central nervous system. It is made in illegal labs from easy to find ingredients. One of the greatest dangers of crystal meth abuse is the dangerously unpredictable, irrational, violence it can produce.
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It is also called meth, speed, ice, crystal, crank, glass, or chalk, and can be easily dissolved in liquid. Meth can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed to get the user high.
Meth was originally developed from amphetamine for use in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. It is prescribed for obesity, narcolepsy and even attention deficit disorder. A medical professional must closely monitor the prescriptions, which are not refillable.
Methamphetamine causes increased activity, suppressed appetite, and a sense of well-being. Crystal meth stimulates the release of dopamine, activating the brain’s pleasure center, as most illicit drugs do. Meth users develop an instant tolerance to the drug, constantly needing more crystal meth to get high as the body adapts to its effects.
Methamphetamine abuse has three typical patterns that users fall into: low intensity, binge, and high intensity.
Low-intensity meth abusers are not yet psychologically addicted but use methamphetamine casually. They seek extra stimulation, in the way that caffeine or nicotine is sometimes used to stay awake, gain more energy, or suppress the appetite.
Crystal meth users who binge on methamphetamine are psychologically addicted to its euphoric rushes. Binge and high-intensity crystal meth abusers prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine for a faster, stronger high.
There are 7 stages in the cycle of crystal meth bingeing:
1. Initial Rush
After smoking or injecting methamphetamine, crystal meth users experience increased heartbeat, metabolism, and blood pressure.
2. The Crystal Meth High
Meth often makes a user feel more intelligent and confident, and they may become more aggressive and argumentative than usual.
3. The Crystal Meth Binge
As the end of the meth high approaches, the user seeks to continue the high by smoking or injecting more methamphetamine. However, the euphoric rush is diminished each time after the initial dose, as tolerance is experienced immediately. A binge meth user will continue to use crystal meth over a 3 to 15 day period, until no rush or high is experienced, and become mentally and physically hyperactive, avoiding sleep.
4. Crystal Meth Tweaking
Toward the end of the crystal meth binge, the meth user experiences a crash with feelings of sadness and emptiness. This state is called “tweaking”. While tweaking, crystal meth users may take alcohol or heroin, to relieve the dismal feelings. Meth tweaking can produce extremely unpredictable, violent behavior, hallucinations and paranoia.
5. The Crystal Meth Crash
A crystal meth binge user eventually crashes when their body’s supply of epinephrine is depleted. They require immense amounts of sleep to replenish the body, often over 1 to 3 days.
6. Return to Normal
After crashing and replenishing the body, a crystal meth user returns to normal. However, the user’s condition will be somewhat deteriorated from what it was before using methamphetamine.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine often sneaks up on a crystal meth user – one to three months may pass after using meth before withdrawal symptoms are recognized.
There are no acute, immediate symptoms of physical distress. However, the crystal meth user in withdrawal will slowly become depressed and unable to feel pleasure, lacking energy. Craving for methamphetamine can hit suddenly, and combined with the feelings of depression may lead to suicide.
Withdrawal symptoms end as soon as crystal meth is used again, making it extremely difficult to break the cycle of meth use. Those who continue to use crystal meth become high-intensity abusers pursuing the rush they felt the first time they used crystal meth. But instead, they experience less euphoria with each rush, using more and more crystal meth. Each high is diminished, with more frequent binges on more methamphetamine.