Crystal Meth

Crystal Meth

The downside of using crystal meth is so devastating, we’re surprised that anyone is even trying it.

If you don’t care about the fact that crystal meth can forever alter your brain’s ability to naturally regulate such things as dopamine production, muscle movement, memory and decision making, maybe you’ll care about losing your teeth.

Crystal meth users report severe dental damage, usually in the two front teeth.

If you don’t care about the loss of your ability to produce natural dopamine, the chemical that lets you feel pleasure and reward, maybe you will care that crystal meth users suffer from welts and itching that causes them to pick at their skin until they form deep, acne-like lesions called “crankbugs” that can leave lifetime scars on the face and body.

And maybe the fact that crystal meth can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and the inability to sleep for anywhere from three to 15 days or that it takes seven to eight days to feel okay again doesn’t bother you, but maybe it will bother you that an ammonia odour of crystal meth leaks out of the pores of heavy users making them smell like they’re soaked in pee.

If you’re a guy, maybe you’ll think that prolonged sex on a crystal meth high is a good thing, but maybe it won’t seem so good when you learn that the incidence of HIV among users is greatly increased partly because of abrasions caused by lengthy friction and that syphilis is on the rise among users. And worst of all that, over time, you become unable to maintain an erection.

So why does anyone use it? The main attraction of crystal meth is feeling euphoric, powerful, sexy, joyful, filled with energy and able to conquer the world. Athletes may get a short increase in performance and some use the drug to avoid fatigue. Unfortunately, tolerance builds up quickly. Maintaining that high requires more and higher doses and the drug sets up a powerful craving so that users repeatedly dip into the supply until it’s all gone.

Eventually users encounter irritability, insomnia, anxiety and panic. At higher doses (and increasingly higher doses are part of the profile), the euphoria may turn into a pattern of psychosis, including fear, paranoia, aggressiveness and antisocial behaviour. You hear voices, think twisted thoughts.

While the highs of crystal meth are said to last longer but similar to the high of crack cocaine, the down sides are enormous, beginning with its highly addictive nature that sets off extreme cravings that make it hard to be a casual user.

Extremely dry mouth and difficulty urinating are two of the milder side effects. Others include dehydration, rapid heartbeat, ringing ears, dizziness, kidney problems, blood pressure, chest pain, seizures, strokes, nose bleeds, rapid jaw movement, jerking, twitching, skin picking and so on.

Crystal meth is not new. It’s a variation on methamphetamine or speed and was developed, in 1919, by a Japanese named A. Ogata. It was used in the Second World War to give kamikaze pilots “courage” and by other military to suppress fear and promote aggressive behaviour. It is said that Hitler injected it.

Crystal meth is one of the amphetamines, derived from ephedrine, or pseudo-ephedrine, mixed with a number of other ingredients. These can include noxious preparations such as acetone (nail polish), Drano, iodine, muriatic acid (poolside cleaner) battery acid and so on, and the crystals are sometimes laced with strychnine or cyanide. It is inhaled, which is said to rot the front teeth; snorted, which causes deterioration of the nasal cartilage (your nose rots over time) and injected.

It works by boosting the neurotransmitters of dopamine and serotonin. Because crystal meth acts like a neurotransmitter, the neurones absorb the drug, displacing and ultimately destroying the natural transmitters dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin, and reducing the re-uptake of dopamine.

This contributes to the craving because even after withdrawal chronic users can’t find satisfaction in everyday pleasures, since they no longer have the use of the natural dopamine.

Highly concentrated crystal meth, which is heated and inhaled, looks much like some of its street names: glass, ice and hot ice. Other street names include crank, jib, tweak, go-fst, cristy, tina or teena, sketch, yaba and zip to describe a more adulterated substance that comes in a fine or coarse off-white to yellow powder and is often sold in plastic wrap, tin foil or capsules.

The consequences of using crystal meth are so devastating that it is surprising anyone uses it. It destroys your looks and brains and, in the process, your life and your future.

We try not to be judgmental at SMART Careers, knowing that you are all intelligent people, able to make your own informed decisions. In this case, however, I’m breaking the rule. Don’t use crystal meth. It just isn’t worth it.

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