What’s Meth made of?
Methamphetamine is closely related to amphetamine but has longer lasting and more toxic effects on the user’s system. Meth is a white, odorless powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol. Production of the drug begins with common chemicals, including ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Ephedrine-containing pills and powders were banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004. However, as of mid-2005, illicit supplies were still available through the Internet. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in cold medicines and asthma drugs. Other ingredients include: drain cleaner, rubbing alcohol, cold pills, acetone, engine starter fluid, lye, battery acid, cleaning products, red phosphorous, and gasoline anti-freeze.
Methamphetamine is relatively easy to produce in homemade laboratories. Meth cooks routinely brew small batches of the drug in their home labs using household goods that they purchased legally in stores. Many Meth cooks use recipes they find on the Internet posted by amateur chemists. As such, the strength and toxicity of each batch can vary considerably.
How addictive is Meth?
Methamphetamine addiction can occur easily. Meth has an addictive hook that is almost unequalled. It’s an addiction that can take over from the first hit.
Users who want to lose weight take Methamphetamine to decrease their appetites. Others might try it for the burst of energy it provides to cram for exams or work extra hours. But, the effects of Meth are so intense that occasional or even first-time users most often find themselves wanting more.
Who mostly uses Meth?
Meth has not only expanded geographically across the country, but also broadened demographically. Before the past decade, Meth abuse was common among white males, with particularly extensive use among biker gangs and truck drivers. Meth also had a spell of popularity in the hippie culture of the 1960s Currently, Meth has become widely used by women, Latinos, gay and bisexual males, arrestees, and increasingly among adolescents. Meth users also include young people at raves, nightclubs and parties, and cocaine users who substitute Methamphetamine for its cocaine-like effects.
What do Meth users look like?
One of the best ways to fight Meth is to be aware of users, who can be recognized by their appearance and behavior. Meth addicts are extremely nervous, and they often have jerky body movements. Many have a skeletal appearance, with skin blotched by sores and a grayish leather appearance. Other physical signs include body odor, rotting teeth and thinning hair.
Mentally, a Meth user becomes delusional, paranoid and aggressive. Even family and friends can become the target of an addict’s imagined fears. For this reason, it’s best to keep your distance when you see a radical behavior change that concerns you. Share your thoughts with a trusted person who might be able to get help for the suspected user. Remember, talking with someone doesn’t make you a snitch, but it could make you a lifesaver.
You can also make a difference in the anti-Meth fight by reporting signs that a Meth lab might be in your neighborhood. It’s a mistake to think they couldn’t be in your own backyard. Meth can be made in motel rooms, apartments and even car trunks.
How does Meth make you feel?
Immediately after smoking Methamphetamine or injecting it into a vein, the user experiences an intense surge of euphoria, called a “rush” or “flash.” Snorting Methamphetamine produces effects within three to five minutes; swallowing Meth takes effect in about 15-20 minutes. Meth makes people feel alert and energetic, confident and talkative. They feel little need for food or sleep. On the other hand, users are also likely to feel the many unwanted effects of the drug, including racing of the heart, chest pain, dryness of the mouth, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and physical tension. Many report an anxious “wired” feeling of restlessness and irritability. The negative effects of Methamphetamine can be extreme and alarming, including paranoid delusions, hallucinations, aggressive behavior and impulsive violence.
Is there hope of recovery from Meth addiction?
Though not impossible, Meth addiction is a difficult disorder to treat. While there’s not severe physical withdrawal with Methamphetamine, there is an inability to experience pleasure, that can last for months and which leads to a lot of relapse. This appears to correspond with the period when the brain is recovering and producing abnormally low levels of dopamine.
Unlike heroin addicts, who can be weaned off the substance with Methadone, there are no pharmacological treatments for Meth. The only currently available treatment is behavioral therapy.
Methamphetamine addicts often resist any form of treatment or intervention. They feel that they’ll be able to quit on their own when they’re ready. Among addicts who do seek help, the treatment process is typically lengthy. It can continue for months or even more than a year after the user has quit the drug. Antidepressant medications may be used to help battle the depression that can accompany withdrawal.
However, drug therapy usually is most helpful when combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). According to the Drug-Rehabs.org Web site, the most effective treatment for Methamphetamine addiction consists of behavioral interventions such as individual and group counseling. These treatments help addicts establish a new circle of non-using friends and improve their coping skills to deal with everyday stressors.