What is Methamphetamine?
A drug with immense abuse potential, methamphetamine (known on the street as "speed," "meth," "crank," "crystal-meth," and "glass") is a central nervous system stimulant of the amphetamine family. Like cocaine, it is a powerful "upper" that produces alertness, and elation, along with a variety of adverse reactions. The effects of methamphetamine, however, are much longer lasting then the effects of cocaine, yet the cost is much the same. For that reason, methamphetamine is sometimes called the "poor man's cocaine."
Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant.
The drug works directly on the brain and spinal cord by interfering with normal neurotransmission. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances naturally produced within nerve cells used to communicate with each other and send messages to influence and regulate our thinking and all other systems throughout the body.
The main neurotransmitter affected by methamphetamine is dopamine. Dopamine is involved with our natural reward system. For example, feeling good about a job well done, getting pleasure from our family or social interactions, feeling content and that our lives are meaningful and count for something, all rely on dopamine transmission.
As with many drugs, methamphetamine, if prescribed by a physician, is legally available in the United States for the treatment of attention deficit disorders and obesity. Unfortunately, much of the methamphetamine available on the street is illicit methamphetamine from clandestine laboratories in the United States. In the 1970s methamphetamine became a Schedule II drug - a drug with little medical use and a high potential for abuse.
How is Meth TAKEN?
Methamphetamine can be ingested, inhaled, or injected. It is sold as a powder or in small chunks which resemble rock candy. It can be mixed with water for injection or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked. Chunks of clear, high-purity methamphetamine ("ice," "crystal," "glass") are smoked in a small pipe, much as "crack" cocaine is smoked. Since methamphetamine will vaporize rapidly, some heat the drug and inhale the fumes that are released.
What are the SYMPTOMS OF USE?
Some of the symptoms of methamphetamine use are:
Loss of appetite and weight loss
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Elevated body temperature
Skin ulceration and infection, the result of picking at imaginary bugs
Increased blood pressure
For pregnant women - premature labor, detachment of the placenta, and low birth weight babies with possible neurological damage.
For intravenous (I V) users - AIDS, hepatitis, infections and sores at the injection site, and infection of the heart lining and valves.
How is meth made?
The processing required to make methamphetamine from precursor substances is easier and more accessible than ever. There are literally thousands of recipes and information about making meth on the Internet. An investment of a few hundred dollars in over-the-counter medications and chemicals can produce thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine. The drug can be made in a makeshift "lab" that can fit into a suit case. The average meth "cook" annually teaches ten other people how to make the drug.
Clandestine labs known as "mom and pop" labs are found in rural, city and suburban residences; barns, garages and other outbuildings; back rooms of businesses; apartments; hotel and motel rooms; storage facilities; vacant buildings; and vehicles.
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