Crystal meth is the common name for a certain type of methamphetamine. The way it’s produced causes the appearance of small, clear, crystal chunks or shiny bluish-white rocks. The most common way to ingest this form of meth is to smoke it in a small pipe, but it can also be crushed or dissolved to be snorted or injected. It can also be swallowed. Especially when smoked, this drug causes a quick rush of intense euphoria. It may only last for a few minutes, causing people to “binge” by smoking many times in a row.
The fast, intense high contributes to its highly addictive nature. The fact that it’s typically made out of harsh household chemicals also means that it’s incredibly hard on the body. The combination of these two realities makes it one of the most dangerous drugs available.
As a powerful stimulant, meth fills users with energy and a feeling of being invincible. They may experience increased alertness and better ability to focus as well as hyperproductivity. At the same time, it often creates a number of unpleasant side effects, including:
- Hyperthermia (high body temperature)
- Mood swings
- Violent behavior
- Premature aging of the skin
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay
Most of these symptoms will subside soon after intake of the drug stops, particularly the emotional symptoms. Tooth and skin damage, however, may take time to reverse or repair. The most concerning aspects of meth are its long-term risks and side effects. The more an individual takes meth, the worse the short-term effects tend to become until they become long-term problems. More awareness of this problem has started to curb the epidemic of meth labs and abuse of the drug in the US, but about 1.2 million people use the drug at least once each year.
The psychological effects of crystal meth can get so intense that many chronic users end up experiencing suicidal or even homicidal thoughts. Addicted individuals become completely obsessed with the drug and may feel very sick and agitated without it. These people are referred to in the drug culture as “tweakers” due to frequent twitching, skin picking, and nervous behaviors. This is often the point at which people addicted to meth seek help, and if they don’t, there are worse things to come.
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Odd behaviors
- “Crawling” skin
- Body sores from skin picking
- Respiratory issues from smoking
- Damage to the blood vessels
- Gum disease
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased risk of heart issues
- Liver and kidney damage
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Worsening hallucinations
Enough use of meth can even result in serious brain damage. Long-term users can experience symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. They can even develop seizures and other symptoms of epilepsy.
Additionally, intravenous users put themselves at risk of infection at the injection site and risk contracting life-threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. However, all methods of meth use carry considerable risk. Due to the intensely addictive nature of meth, it’s best to avoid any use of this drug. If addiction is suspected, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.