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Would you swallow a spoonful of drain cleaner? Does the thought of injecting brake fluid into your arm appeal to you? Care to top off your dessert with a bit of rat poison?

These are just a few of the common ingredients used in cooking Meth. One reason behind the explosive growth in Meth labs is the availability of the components. Even though these toxins are supposedly removed from the drug during processing, shoddy, inexperienced or uncaring Meth cooks may leave traces of one or many of them in their final product.

When users smoke, inject or drink Meth, this is may be what they are sending to their brain, cardiovascular system and throughout their bodies:

Some Common Meth Ingredients:

ingredients_smallIndividually, each product is legal and useful. But when mixed together and processed, the results are deadly – to the producer, user and innocent bystanders.

  • Alcohol – Gasoline additives/Rubbing Alcohol
  • Ether (starting fluid)
  • Benzene
  • Paint thinner
  • Freon
  • Acetone
  • Chloroform
  • Camp stove fuel
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • White gasoline
  • Pheynl-2-Propane
  • Phenylacetone
  • Phenylpropanolamine
  • Rock, table or Epsom salt
  • Red Phosphorous
  • Toluene (found in brake cleaner)
  • Red Devil Lye
  • Drain cleaner
  • Muraitic acid
  • Battery acid
  • Lithium from batteries
  • Sodium metal
  • Ephedrine
  • Cold tablets
  • Diet aids
  • Iodine
  • Bronchodialators
  • Energy boosters
  • Iodine crystals

meth_labSuper Lab

 Lab equipment – including tubing, unmarked Mason jars with tubes attached, stained coffee filters, 2-liter pop bottles, blenders, camera batteries, wooden matches, propane cylinders and hot plates – are tip offs to the production of Meth.

meth_cookingMeth being cooked

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an illegal drug in the same class as cocaine and other powerful street drugs. It has many nicknames – meth, crank, chalk or speed being the most common.

Methamphetamine is inexpensive and relatively easy to produce, making it affordable and readily available.

Crystal meth, for example, is used by individuals of all ages, but is most commonly used as a club drug, taken while partying in night clubs or at rave parties. Its most common street names are ice, glass, shards, or Tina.

It is a dangerous and potent chemical, and, as with all drugs, a poison that first acts as a stimulant, but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Thus it is associated with serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage.

Methamphetamine is a synthetic, (man-made) chemical, unlike cocaine, for instance, which comes from a plant. Meth is commonly manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories using various forms of amphetamine (another stimulant drug) or derivatives, mixed with other chemicals to boost its potency. Common pills such as cold remedies are often used as the basis for the production of the drug. The meth cook extracts the active ingredient in those pills, pseudoephedrine (a chemical derived from amphetamine), and combines it with dangerous or even deadly ingredients such as battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and antifreeze to increase its strength.

Those manufacturing methamphetamine use dangerous chemicals that are potentially explosive. Because of the volatile nature of the materials they employ, and the fact that the meth cooks are drug users themselves and disoriented, they are often severely burned and disfigured or killed when their preparations explode. Such accidents endanger others in nearby homes or buildings. 

The illegal laboratories create a lot of toxic waste as well the production of one pound of methamphetamine produces five pounds of waste. People exposed to this waste material can become poisoned and sick.

Highly addictive, meth burns up the bodys resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.

Crystal meths effect is highly concentrated and many users report getting hooked (addicted) from the first time they use it. I tried it once and BOOM! I was addicted, said one meth addict who lost his family, friends, his profession as a musician and ended up homeless.

Consequently, it is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat and many die in its grip.

What Does Methamphetamine Look Like?

different-methsColors of Meth

 Methamphetamine usually comes in the form of a crystalline white powder that is odorless, bitter-tasting and it dissolves easily in water or alcohol. Other colors of powder have been observed, including brown, yellow-gray, orange and even pink. It can also be compressed into pill form. As covered earlier it can be snorted, smoked or injected. Crystal meth comes in clear chunky crystals resembling ice and is most commonly smoked.

Street Names for Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine (meth) and crystal methamphetamine are referred to by many names:

  • Fast
  • Crink
  • Wash
  • Chalk
  • Crank
  • Getgo
  • Speed
  • Brown
  • Tweak
  • Crypto
  • Tick tick
  • Beannies
  • Cinnamon
  • Chicken feed
  • Methlies quik
  • Mexican crack
  • Yellow powder
  • Redneck cocaine
  • Yaba (Southeast Asia)
  • Pervitin (Czech Republic)

Crystal Methamphetamine

ice_image

Crystal Meth

  • Ice
  • Tina
  • Batu
  • Glass
  • Blade
  • Cristy
  • Shabu
  • Hot ice
  • Shards
  • Quartz
  • Crystal
  • Ventana
  • Stove top
  • Crystal glass

The Deadly Effects of Meth:

The short-term and long-term impact on the individual.

When taken, meth and crystal meth create a false sense of well-being and energy, and so a person will tend to push his body faster and further than it is meant to go. Thus, drug users can experience a severe “crash” or physical and mental breakdown after the effects of the drugs wear off.

Since the continued use of the drug decreases natural feelings of hunger, users can experience extreme weight loss. Negative effects can also include disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of power, increased aggressiveness and irritability.

Other worrying effects can include: insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, use can cause convulsions that lead to death.

Long-Range Damage

In the long term, meth use can cause irreversible harm: increased heart rate and blood pressure, damaged blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes or an irregular heartbeat that can, in turn, cause cardiovascular collapse or death, and liver, kidney and lung damage.

There are strong indications that users suffer brain damage, including memory impairment and an increasing inablility to grasp abstract thoughts. Those who recover are usally subject to some memory gaps and extreme mood swings.

Short-Term Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Hallucinations, hyper-excitability, irritability
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Excessive doses may lead to convulsions, seizures and death

Long-Term Effects:

  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Respiratory problems if smoked
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimers disease, stroke and epilepsy
  • Irreversible damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, stokes and death

How Methamphetamine Affects Peoples Lives

meth_faces_tuscon_arizona

When people take methamphetamine, it takes over their live in varying degrees. There are three categories of abuse.

Low-Intensity Meth Abuse: abusers swallow or snort methamphetamine. They want the extra stimulation methamphetamine provides so that they can stay awake long enough to finish a task or a job, or they want the appetite-suppressant effect to lose weight. They are one step away from becoming binge (meaning uncontrolled use of a substance) abusers.

Binge Meth Abuse: smoke or inject methamphetamine with a needle. This allows them to receive a more intense dose of the drug and experience a stronger rush this is psychologically addictive. They are on the verge of moving into high-intensity abuse.

High-Intensity Meth Abuse: The high-intensity abusers are the addicts, often called speed freaks. Their whole existence focuses on preventing the crash, that painful letdown after the drug high. In order to achieve the desired rush from the drug, they must take more and more of it. But as with other drugs, each successive meth high is less than the one before, urging the meth addict into a dark and deadly spiral of addiction.

The Stages of the Meth Experience

  1. The Rush- A rush is the initial response the abuser feels when smoking or injecting methamphetamine. During the rush, the abusers heartbeat races and metabolism, blood pressure and pulse soar. Unlike the rush associated with crack cocaine, which lasts for approximately two to five minutes, the methamphetamine rush can continue for 30 minutes or longer.

  2. The High- The rush is followed by a high, sometimes called the shoulder but more so called the peak or peaking. During the high, the abuser often feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative, often interrupting other people and finishing their sentences. The delusional effects can result in a user becoming intensely focused on a mundane or inconsequential item, such as repeatedly cleaning the same window for several hours. The high can last 4-16 hours or longer depending on how much was taken or how potent the dose was that was taken.

  3. The Binge- A binge is uncontrolled use of a drug or alcohol. It refers to the abusers urge to maintain the high by smoking or injecting more methamphetamine. The binge can last 3-15 days. During the binge, the abuser becomes hyperactive both mentally and physically. Each time the abuser smokes or injects more of the drug, he experiences another but smaller rush until, finally, there is no rush and no high.

  4. Tweaking- A methamphetamine abuser is most dangerous when experiencing a phase of the addiction called tweaking a condition reached at the end of a drug binge when methamphetamine no longer provides a rush or a high. Unable to relieve the dreadful feelings of emptiness and craving, an abuser loses his sense of identity. Intense itching is common and a user can become convinced that bugs are crawling under his skin. Unable to sleep for days at a time, the abuser is often in a completely psychotic state and he exists in his own world, seeing and hearing things that no one else can perceive. His hallucinations are so vivid that they seem real and disconnected from reality, he can become hostile and dangerous to himself and others. The potential for self-mutilation is high.

  5. The Crash- To a binge abuser, the crash happens when the body shuts down, unable to cope with the drug effects overwhelming it; this results in a long period of sleep for the person. Even the meanest most violent abuser becomes almost lifeless during the crash and poses a threat to no one. The crash can last one to three days.

  6. Meth Hangover- After the crash, the abuser returns in a deteriorated state, starved, dehydrated and utterly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. This stage ordinarily lasts between 2 and 14 days. This leads to enforced addiction, as the solution to these feelings is to take more meth. 

  7. Withdrawal- Often 30 to 90 days can pass after the last drug use before the abuser realizes that he is in withdrawal. First, he becomes depressed, loses his energy and the ability to experience pleasure. Then the craving for more methamphetamine hits, and the abuser often becomes suicidal. Since meth withdrawal is extremely painful and arduous, most abusers often revert; thus, 93% of those in traditional treatment return to abusing methamphetamine.

History of Methamphetaminekamikaze-281x300

Methamphetamine is not a new drug, although it has become more powerful in recent years as techniques for its manufacture have evolved. 

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 in Germany and methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was developed in Japan in 1919. The crystalline powder was soluble in water, making it a perfect candidate for injection.

Methamphetamine went into wide use during World War II, when both sides used it to keep troops awake. High doses were given to Japanese Kamikaze pilots before their suicide missions. And after the war, intravenous methamphetamine abuse reached epidemic proportions when supplies stored for military use became available to the Japanese public.

In the 1950’s, methamphetamine was prescribed as a diet aid and to fight depression. Easily available, it was used as a non-medical stimulant by college students, truck drivers and athletes and abuse of the drug spread.

This pattern changed dramatically in the 1960’s with the increased availability of inject able methamphetamine, increasing the abuse. Then, in 1970, the U.S. government criminalized it for most uses. After that, American motorcycle gangs controlled most of the production and distribution of the drug. Most users at the time lived in rural communities and could not afford the more expensive cocaine.

In the 1990’s, Mexican drug trafficking organizations set up large laboratories in California. While these massive labs are able to generate 50 pounds of the substance in a single weekend, smaller private labs have sprung up in kitchens and apartments, earning the drug one of its names, stove top. From there it spread across the United States and into Europe, through the Czech Republic. Today, most of the drug available in Asia is produced in Thailand, Myanmar and China.

meth_pic