You may have taken a stimulant, essentially “speed” in college, to study before finals or given it, with a doctor’s prescription, as Adderall or Ritalin pills to your kids to calm them down for their ADD behavior. Or, perhaps, you’ve taken “diet pills” for a time to lose weight. They all contain methamphetamine.
Crystal Meth is different and can send you into orbit. What is it, exactly? It’s an odorless, colorless form of d-methamphetamine, a synthetic psychostimulant. It can be snorted, smoked, taken orally or injected. It’s in the same class as cocaine, but its effects last longer: usually 6 to 8 hours, but can last as long as 24 hrs.
Why Is It Popular Now?
The street names of this illicit drug are: Tina, Chrissy, Crank, Jib, Shards, Gak, Tweak, Glass. In the 12 months ending in May 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that deaths linked to psychostimulants, such as methamphetamines increased by 35%. This rise in illicit drugs, I think, are attributable to the economic loss, isolation of the Covoid pandemic as 40% of adults in the United States have been struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. Rates of depression and anxiety have risen since 2019, according to CDC findings.
Despite the opioid epidemic in this country, “A national meth scourge is surging today,” reports Dr. Nora D. Volkow, NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) Director, “driven by cheap imports funneling in from Mexico. A substantial portion of meth’s growing use appears to be among people who also use drugs like heroin or fentanyl, who may look to stimulant drugs to balance out opioid’s depressive effects.” It’s popular now after a synthesis of a smokable form of crystallized (blue rock or clear crystal chunks) methamphetamine (d-methamphetamine hydrochloride).”
You can make Crystal Meth (highly flammable) in your house or a lab like Chemistry teacher Bryan Cranston did in show “Breaking Bad.” Some of the ingredients are Draino and pseudoephedrine found in many cold medicines. The latter component is carefully regulated by pharmacies so NyQuil and other cold meds don’t fly off the shelves.
Here’s How It Works
Like many illicit drugs, Crystal Meth floods your reward centers of your brain with dopamine, “the feel good” neurotransmitter. Its side effects are confidence, hyperactiveness, energy, euphoria, as well as decreased appetite.
It is highly addictive and powerful. Because the high from the drug both starts and fades quickly, users often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. The binging is known as a “run.” If you take the drug every few hours, you can stay up for days without food and sleep.
Here are the psychological side effects:
- Severe depression
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Drug cravings
These symptoms can continue at least 2 to 3 days after you stop using crystal meth. Brain scans have shown that it can cause long-term cognitive and mental health problems. Crystal Meth is associated with memory loss, aggression, paranoia, and psychotic behavior.
The Physical Symptoms
Crystal Meth will age you prematurely and leads to irreversible dental problems known as “meth mouth.” Other symptoms are: acne, itchy skin, blurred vision, constipation or diarrhea, dilated pupils, dizziness, dry mouth and skin, high body temperature, flushing, high blood pressure, headache, numbness, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid breathing, restlessness, twitching and tremors, abnormal heart rhythm, rapid heartbeat and palpitations. It can lead to a heart attack and overdose as it did to my son in 2016.
Popular in the Gay Community
Especially with the use of needles to inject Crystal Meth, there is a risk of contracting HIV & Hepatitis in the LGBT community. It has been used as a Pnp (“party ‘n’ play”) in clubs and other social places.
In November 2019, researchers at the City University of New York published findings in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The ongoing study of nearly 5,000 sexual and gender minorities who have sex with men (BSM) found that the participants’ odds of contracting the virus during the study were 4x higher among those reporting recent meth use and 7x higher among those reporting persistent use of the drug.
Is There A Cure for Crystal Meth Addiction?
There are no government-approved medications, but a national research team has reached a milestone by developing what its recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial has established is the first safe medication-based treatment for addiction to crystal meth.
Investigators are hoping that the combination of daily bupropion (Wellbutrin) and injections every three weeks of naltrexone (used to treat alcoholism and opioid use disorder) along with cognitive behavioral therapy that help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with situations likely to trigger use again will lead to a successful treatment rate. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas is the study’s lead author.
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.