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What are methamphetamines?

Methamphetamines are powerful synthetic drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. It was originally produced for nasal decongestants and inhalers. Methamphetamines are still used to treat legitimate medical problems like narcolepsy and attention-deficit disorder.

Often, people start to use methamphetamines illegally because they want to feel more alert, but they don’t realize that the drug can immediately — and permanently — damage the body and especially the brain. Methamphetamines make the body release dopamine into the brain’s pleasure area. It is this area of the brain that sustains damage when methamphetamines are used. Methamphetamines can also cause convulsions, dangerously high body temperature, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, stomach cramps, and shaking.

How are methamphetamines used?

They can be taken orally, injected, smoked, or snorted. In its crystal form it is usually heated and the vapors it produces are inhaled. Methamphetamine’s crystallized form has different street names such as “ice,” “crystal,” or “glass.” No matter what you call it, in this crystalized form, meth is highly addictive and toxic.

It has many other common names such as: speed, chalk, blue mollies, methlies quick, mexican crack, crank, quartz, crystal shabu, glass sketch, go-fast speed, ice stove top, crystal meth,  LA glass west coast, and meth yellow bam.

What are the effects of methamphetamines on your body?
First-time users may mistakenly think that methamphetamine or other stimulants will keep them more awake for work or pleasure.

When users take methamphetamine, it releases high levels of the neutrotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. Methamphetamine use also damages brain cells that contain dopamine and serotonin, another neurotransmitter.

People can become addicted to Methamphetamines after just one dose — that’s how powerful this drug is! Users fell like they have more energy and less appetite. When the high fades, the super-alert feeling hangs around for awhile and makes users forget about basic physical needs like sleeping and eating. Prolonged use will result in a build up of tolerance to the drug. These users find that they have to take more and more of the drug to acheive the same high. This causes even more damage to their bodies.

What happens when people take methamphetamine?

Short term effects include:
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
What are the symptoms of methamphetamine use?

  • Increased alertness
  • Very talkative
  • Paranoia
  • Inceased physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Euphoria

Methamphetamines abusers may seem more:
  • Irritable
  • Anxious
  • Confused
  • Aggressive
  • Unable to sleep

Some methamphetamine users may experience amphetamine psychosis 36 to 48 hours after taking a large dose of methamphetamine. The effects include hallucinations and delusions. Sometimes methamphetamine users have convulsions that result in death. Most meth users take the drug continously for several days at a time. During these “runs,” they usually do not eat or sleep. Meth runs are always followed by a “crash,” during which users sleep for days at a time and experience anxiety and severe depression. While depressed, suicide is a major concern.

Longtime use
Read the true life stories of people who have recovered from meth addiction.

Addiction to methamphetamines can cause violent behavior and psychotic behavior. Addicts may be paranoid and have hallucinations, picking “bugs” from under their skin or having wild mood swings. Their bodies grow gaunt, they forget about hygiene, and their brains are permanently damaged. Psychotic symptoms can last years after the last use of this drug. Long-term brain damage from methamphetamine use can produce symptoms simillar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

Unlike other stimulants, methamphetamines stay in the body’s system for longer periods of time, which means it also has more time to wreak havoc with a person’s nervous system. Methamphetamine also stays in the brain longer, which ultimately leads to prolonged stimulant effects.

It’s important to know that most meth is made in illegal labs, so users have no idea of what other chemicals have been added to their dose of methamphetamines. 

A few of the products listed below are often used in the production of methamphetamine:
  • Anhydrous Ammonia
  • Lye (Red Devil, Drano, other drain cleaners
  • Ephedrine/pseudo-ephedrine (Sudafed, cold tablets, decongestants, bronchial dilators, Mini-Thins)
  • Solvents (toluene, denatured alcohol, Coleman fuel)
  • Starter fluid (ether)
  • Iodine
  • Coffee filters
  • Aluminum foil
  • Red Phosphorous - A.K.A. “Red P” - (matchbook covers, flares)
  • Lithium metal (camera batteries)
  • salts - table, kosher, rock

Are the effects of methamphetamine permenent?

Yes, meth damages the body — and the brain — permanently. Users sometimes take meth in tandem with other drugs like alcohol, cocain, or herion, damaging their bodies even more.

What are the risks of using methamphetamine during pregnancy?

Women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breastfeeding should never use methamphetamine. In addition to the problems normally associated with the drug, use during pregnancy can cause premature labor, separation of the placenta, and other problems.

Babies born to mothers who use methamphetamine during pregnancy often experience problems that follow them for many years. They often have stunted growth, tremors, poor feeding habits, disturbed sleep patterns, and poor muscle tone. They also show elevated heart rates, rapid breathing, and an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

How bad is the methamphetamine epidemic?
The bad news on methamphetamines:
  • More than 10,000 people went to hospital emergency rooms in 1999 after using methamphetamines.
  • As much as half the brain’s dopamine producing cells can be damaged after exposure to even low levels of meth. The result: a brain that looks as if it has had strokes or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Meth can also cause cariovascular problems, hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperatures), and convulsions, all of which can result in death.
  • Drug users often practice unsafe sex, putting them at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS
  • Selling or producing methamphetamine can mean up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
  • In 2000, individuals who lived in metropolitan areas were more likely than those in non-metropolitan areas to have used an illicit drug during the past year.

How do I say no?
If someone tells you that meth will make you feel good or more alert so that you can stay awake to study or work longer hours each day, remember that meth will make you a paranoid, gaunt shell of your former self who doesn’t even care about bathing, much less studing or making it to work on time. Then tell them “No , thanks” and walk away. Getting away from the situation is important, because meth users can become violent and even dangerous in seconds. Respect yourself, your future and your family by never trying meth or any illicit drug!

What else should I know about methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine has been one of the most common illegal drugs in the United States since the 1970’s. It’s hard to imagine how a drug that makes you paranoid enough to scratch your skin until it bleeds has become so prevalent. But that’s just how dangerous methamphetamine addiction is.

The addiction to the false euphoria of the drug makes people steal and become violent so that they can get enough money to buy more methamphetamine to achieve their high and avoid withdrawl symptoms. The drugs make people forget to take care of even the most basic things like bathing, eating and sleeping. It has a stranglehold that can make people jittery long after the last dose was taken. It can steal your youth — and your life.

If you suspect someone is manufacturing methamphetamine, call the Meth Tip Hotline toll-free at 1-866-638-4847. The call is anonymous and confidential.

Visit the DEA web site for more info about Methamphetamines
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