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The Faces of Methamphetamine

The increasingly popular trend in drug use is methamphetamine, also known as speed, crank, ice, glass, crystal meth, sketch, go, junk, wake up, zoom, crystal, cridium, stuff, tweak, dope, and lines. It can be snorted, smoked, injected and eaten, making it a versatile drug to administer. Meth is typically sold in 1/4 gram ($20-25), one gram ($50-75), and 1/8 ounce ($140-180). It is cheaper and more accessible than cocaine and appears not to have the same stigma associated with it. Police say $100 can buy a cocaine user a twenty-minute high; the same amount can keep a meth user buzzed for a day or two. The crippling effect of Meth addiction has become rampant across America impacting society at all levels according to a recent study.

Law enforcement officials claim the epidemic is out of control in 30 of the 50 states and getting worse by the month. Meth now rivals cocaine as the drug of choice in many parts of the United States. Unlike cocaine, meth does not need to be smuggled into the United States. It costs less with similar effects and it can be made in people's homes. The Federal Government recently reported, "While cocaine use continues to slow, meth has taken its place as the most widely abused drug in the United States." At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice has named meth the "drug of choice" among youth.


Methamphetamine is both domestically produced and imported into the United States in an already processed form. For the local producers the processing required to make meth from the precursor substances is not only easier than it once was, but also more accessible. There is no specific recipe for making it. Methamphetamine is not derived from a plant, only chemicals. No smuggling or foreign connection is required. Meth is completely homemade; most of the chemicals required to manufacture meth are readily obtainable from hardware or drugstores. Meth normally contains ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine, which is found in over-the-counter cold medications. Depending on the recipe, other ingredients used in the cooking are that of the skull-and-cross bone labels: lye, rat poison, battery acid, and various chemicals such as acetone and gasoline.


 

Methamphetamine, or Phenyl Isopropyl Methyline, is a classified stimulant. Stimulants, by definition, are chemical compounds that accelerate activity within the central nervous system. Stimulants appear naturally in animals and in humans in the form of adrenaline and epinephrine. Much like natural stimulants, man made ones stimulate the body's ability to perform physical activity under situations of stress.

At low doses the drug can block hunger, focus attention, steady the heart and boost endurance. At high doses the drug briefly makes the body feel good, but kills the brain in the process. Meth sends a message to the brain cells to fire more dopamine, a feel-good chemical that is also critical to normal brain functioning. Hours after it is ingested, cell receptors begin to turn off to slow the flow of dopamine, and this is where meth differs from other stimulants, such as cocaine. While other stimulants allow brain cells to capture and repackage dopamine, meth does not. The brain cells respond by releasing an enzyme to knock out the extra dopamine. With repeated use, the enzymes eventually kill the dopamine cell, which leads to a chemical change in the way the brain works.

The physical effects of meth use include diarrhea, palpitations, dizziness, jaw clenching and facial ticks. Chronic use leads to sever weight loss and exhaustion, tremors, ataxia, disturbances of the cardiac rhythm, pain in the muscles and joints, and reduced resistance to infections. Meth decreases the appetite, blood flow, and saliva. It increases the heart rate to the extent that sudden heart failure can occur under strain. The rise of blood pressure and sugar levels and the vasoconstriction of peripheral blood vessels occurs. Other consequences include bronchial dilation, dilation of the blood vessels to the skeletal muscles, dilation of pupils and the emptying of the bladder and intestine. The most important central effects are an increase in alertness, sensitivity to stimuli, and self-awareness. Apart from the nervous system, meth damages multiple other organ systems including the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.

Meth abusers who overdose do not have any warning signs. Without these signs, death can be unexpected and very sudden. The heart rate will rapidly increase and the abuser will collapse and suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke. Medical professionals treating drug abusers maintain that heroin addicts can frequently live longer lives, whereas meth abuses often do not.

All types of people use meth. There are no boundaries. It includes all classes and all professions. Anybody and everybody...Meth is not a respecter of persons.

 

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