“Meth” is the short name for methamphetamine. It is a stimulant derived from the earlier drug, amphetamine. Its ability to produce feelings of euphoria, pleasure, heightened alertness, or a sense of invincibility has led to widespread abuse. However, meth highs are followed by a “crash” where the user feels exhausted. The meth user who has crashed may also feel very unhappy and anxious. Over time, prolonged use of meth may harm the brain’s ability to feel pleasure. Additionally, the drug can produce psychological and behavioral changes such as paranoia, hallucinations, aggression and violent behavior, insomnia, and confusion.
Like heroin, dependence on meth can lead to drug tolerance and the need for larger amounts to achieve the same intoxication experienced early in its use. This cycle of tolerance and increased use sets up a risk for overdose.
Meth’s street names vary from Shabu and Crank to Ice, Crystal, and Tweak (although there are many other names). Meth comes in a variety forms that allow it to be smoked in a pipe, swallowed in pills, injected intravenously, or snorted through the nose.
This article will briefly summarize:
- Some of the basic issues around methamphetamines
- The differences between meth and crystal meth
- Health problems caused by prolonged meth abuse
- Detox and recovery from meth
The Basics of Meth Use in America
The government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that over two million Americans used methamphetamines in the past year. This figure represents almost one percent of the population age 12 and older. More disturbing is that 1.6 million Americans are considered to have a methamphetamine use disorder during this same period. With respect to meth-related deaths, the national average has risen from 1.3 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 2011 to 7.3 in 2021. This trend represents a fatality increase over 460 percent in ten years.
Meth vs Crystal Meth
While meth and crystal meth both refer to methamphetamines, there are differences between the two. Meth can be in the form of pills, powder, and liquid. Crystal meth, in contrast, is in the form of small transparent rocks. Crystal meth is a more concentrated form of methamphetamine and produces stronger intoxication effects for the user. The high produced by crystal meth can also last longer than that of meth. This greater intensity and length of effect are thought to give crystal meth an even greater addictive potential than regular meth. Crystal meth’s greater intensity and length of effect has other implications as well. As compared to traditional meth, crystal meth may produce an overdose at a lower dose than regular meth because its purity and concentration is higher.
Health Problems Caused by Meth
An overdose of meth may cause a heart attack, a stroke, convulsions, or organ damage. These conditions can produce permanent organ damage or they can result in death. Less severe physical issues include tooth decay, weight loss, and sores on the skin. Psychological problems may include depression, anxiety, memory loss, and psychotic thinking.
Begin Recovery with Detox
People struggling with meth addiction should remember that meth recovery is achievable and it’s been a reality for countless people. The first step in this process is medical detox. Detoxification is the elimination of meth from the body. The process may take more or less than a week. Treatment involves medications to reduce meth cravings and treat the body’s response to withdrawal. Inasmuch as this is medical detox, a patient’s health and progress are monitored by licensed healthcare professionals (such as physicians and nurses). These professionals specialize in recovery medicine and the proper care of people suffering from addiction. They understand that the less discomfort someone experiences in withdrawal, the more likely he or she will continue with detox until the completion of the process.