Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, crank, glass and shards, is today’s street drug of choice. A popular stimulant among club-goers, it induces a long-lasting and euphoric high, preceded by a very intense low. Smoking crystal meth is the most common method of use, but it can also be ingested, injected, or snorted.
Why is meth so popular?
Crystal meth’s prevalence in society is due to three main factors:
- Easy to make – Crystal meth is composed of easily accessible ingredients which can be purchased over-the-counter at local drugstores. Its production is inexpensive, and the drug can be fabricated in a home-made laboratory, as is often the case.
- Cheap – A real ‘bang for your buck’, crystal meth is as inexpensive to make as it is in relation to the length and strength of the high. Users can be stoned from 6 to 10 hours, experiencing an exhilarated state of mind. Other effects include wakefulness, a curb in appetite, and increased energy.
- Highly addictive – Crystal meth is as addictive as cocaine and heroine, and some would argue that it is even more so. The day after its use brings waves of depression, anger and sadness to the user. A common cure among addicts is, unsurprisingly, more meth. As per the Drug and Alcohol Services Information System, (DASIS), the percentage of treatment admissions for crystal methamphetamine abuse more than doubled between 1995 and 2005, from 4 percent to 9 percent – a total of 169,500 admissions recorded in the U.S. in 2005.
The dangers of Crystal Methamphetamine
The chemical make-up of crystal meth is similar to that of a common amphetamine, but with stronger ingredients. The dangers of meth are two-fold: hazardous to those who purposely ingest it and to those who come in contact with a clandestine meth lab.
- Physical and Mental – Crystal meth is not only addictive, but also a tolerance-building drug, that is, the more you take the more you can handle. As the drug attacks the body’s central nervous system, it causes increased blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term use can trigger mental psychoses such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and brain damage comparable to Alzheimer’s disease. Overdoses are common, often causing strokes and sometimes death. Crystal meth eventually damages the gums and teeth, an effect commonly referred to as ‘Meth mouth’ – not particularly attractive to say the least.
- Health Hazard – Crystal meth is relatively easy to make and can be concocted in a warehouse, a common suburban household or even in the trunk of a car. The mixing and heating of the lethal chemicals creates a potentially explosive mixture that poses a threat to anyone within close proximity. For every pound of methamphetamine created, between 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste is left behind. All those in contact with this residue risk burning their eyes and exposed skin. A casual mistake can cause a powerful fire.
U.S. law enforcement officials seized 3,275 firearms in connection with crystal meth labs in 2003, proving another dangerous type of crime related to the fabrication of the drug.
Road to Recovery
Those addicted to crystal meth and seeking help can call 1-800-662-HELP. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) will assist individuals in locating a support group or treatment center nearby.