Crystal meth is the crystalline form of methamphetamine. It is a fine powder reminiscent of pieces of ice or fragments of glass, which is why it is known among users as “ice,” “crystal,” “glass,” and “quartz.”
Crystal meth was earlier used by the poorer classes instead of cocaine. Today it is widespread among people of different educational and financial status. So, for example, in North Korea, the upper class give it as gifts during the new year, the middle class use it as a cure for illnesses, while North Korea’s poor population uses crystal meth to relieve hunger.
That this drug is taking the lead when it comes to drug use is also shown by statistics. According to a recent survey, as many as 27 million people worldwide use methamphetamine. It is especially popular with the younger generation as an additive to “wild time” at parties.
Considering the increasing use of crystal meth, this article introduces you to the dangerous consequences of consumption of the drug, how to identify addiction, and the best means to treat it.
The History of Crystal Meth
While the world was largely discovering cocaine and its effects, in 1893, Nagai Nagayoshi synthesized a new substance called ephedrine from the Chinese plant Ephedrasinica. This Japanese chemist hoped to find a cure for asthma, but his discovery was not accepted by pharmaceutical companies, so ephedrine was soon forgotten.
Based on Nagayoshi’s work in 1919, Japanese pharmacist Akira Ogata managed to develop an easier and faster process for synthesizing crystal meth. His recipe was accepted by the British company Burroughs Wellcome & Co. Thanks to this company, it was introduced to psychiatric practice for treating attention disorders and hyperactivity (ADHD).
However, it was not until World War II that crystal meth faced mainstream usage as “Pervitin”, the anti-fatigue agent that was used by German soldiers to stay awake during their night missions. At the same time, it was known in Japan as “Filopon,” and especially high doses were given to kamikaze pilots. Its negative effects were discovered as early as 1940, which included violent behavior that was being seen in soldiers.
Unfortunately, this knowledge did not reduce its use. In the mid-20th century, crystal meth was incorporated into Obetrol, an anti-obesity preparation. Despite its continued use as a medication thought to have health benefits, it was soon classified as an illicit psychoactive substance.
The Addictive Potential of Crystal Meth
Crystal meth is a major concern around the world, primarily because of its easy and cheap production. The ingredients needed to create it are simple. This is why users themselves quickly learn how to make it at home. The real danger is in the fact that it causes a stronger addiction than even heroin and cocaine.
It is most commonly consumed by smoking, although it can also be snorted, taken orally, or injected intravenously. Crystal meth releases large amounts of dopamine, lifting the mood, so immediately after consuming the person feels intense euphoria, the so-called flash. The effects last depending on the intake method. The longest effect duration is found with swallowing – 15 to 20 minutes; while with snorting, the pleasure wears off after 5 minutes.
The effect lasts much shorter than the blood drug level drops, and if users take a new dose, tolerance develops within minutes, which makes it a very dangerous drug.
The Symptoms and Signs of Crystal Meth Addiction
A crystal meth addict abuses it for the euphoria that they feel, but the drug comes with an array of effects that the addict does not desire. These signs and symptoms of crystal meth usage can easily be seen by others and can be indicative of a person who has an addiction.
If you notice any of the following crystal meth symptoms in someone that you know, they may have a drug problem.
- There is difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss due to reduction in appetite
- Increased energy and talkativeness
- Increased heart rate
- Faster breathing
- Scratches, sores, and scars due to formication
- Bad dentition and gum disease
- Changes in behavior, such as aggressiveness or irritability
- Lack of proper hygiene and disregard for appearance
- Requesting money frequently or stealing
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The Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse
Although the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are considered the most severe, crystal meth drug leaves serious consequences with a frequently fatal outcome. It is very important for addicts to try and quit the drug as soon as they can, as the effects it can leave behind can be devastating. These can be either short term or long term crystal meth side effects.
The Short Term Effects of Crystal Meth
Short-term side effects of crystal meth include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Changes in blood pressure, either increase or decrease
- Changes in bowel habits, either diarrhea or constipation
- Increased body temperature
- Impaired vision
The Long Term Effects of Crystal Methamphetamine
The damage that crystal meth can do in various systems of the body should never be underestimated. It can be very serious and many crystal meth effects can significantly alter the person’s quality of life or result in death.
- Central Nervous System: Initially, psychoactive action accelerates the body, increases physical activity and alertness. That is why it is often encountered among students and employees who constantly work overtime. However, long-term use reduces dopamine levels in the brain. This results in damage to nerve endings and the appearance of symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s disease.
It has also been shown to cause psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety in those who abuse it long-term. People on crystal meth may also display psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, and having hallucinations and delusions.
- Cardiovascular: Also, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure lead to permanent damage to brain blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke. Cardiac arrhythmias can also lead to ineffective pumping of the heart, and can lead to a heart attack.
- Respiratory: At the same time, there are problems with the respiratory system. These occur primarily in those who smoke meth. There is an increased risk of pneumonia as well as respiratory failure.
- Dental: Due to the consistent teeth grinding, dryness of the mouth, and the neglect for personal hygiene, meth addicts may develop what is referred to as ‘meth mouth’. This is characterized by loss of teeth and severe tooth decay. They may have an array of dental problems.
- Infectious: Crystal meth addicts are prone to contracting infectious diseases, particularly STIs, as there are changes in libido and they are more impulsive and have poor judgement. This can result in them contracting hepatitis, HIV, and other infections. The sharing of drug paraphernalia is another route by which these can be gotten.
Treatment Options for Crystal Meth Addiction
Quitting crystal meth is not something that an addict should attempt to do on their own. Suddenly stopping without supervision can result in intense and extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This is why treatment for crystal meth addiction should be done in a proper treatment center in order to ensure safe, effective and pain-free detoxification.
- Outpatient treatment: This involves the patient coming from their residence to the treatment center during the day. This can be convenient for patients who are busy and can not take time off work. However, it is less effective as the stressors and sources of crystal meth are accessible.
- Inpatient treatment: This is preferred and is the most effective means of crystal meth recovery. The patient will reside in the facility for the duration of their treatment. They will be constantly supervised by an expert medical team and kept as safe as possible.
How to Take the First Step in Treating Crystal Meth Addiction
In order to prevent dangerous health problems, hospital treatment for crystal meth addiction is necessary. At VIP Vorobjev clinic, modern methods of treatment for addictive disorders are applied, which are determined on the basis of the psycho-physical condition of the patient.
We apply painless detoxification. In this way, this phase of crystal meth treatment gets more comfortable for the patient, as difficult physical symptoms of withdrawal, as well as depressive episodes, are avoided.
In the treatment of mental addiction as well, the clinic has gone a step further with its revolutionary Ibogaine treatment. It is a natural substance that targets receptors in the brain that are affected by crystal meth. At the same time, Ibogaine has a psychotherapeutic effect and the patient sees the bad side of crystal meth, which completely eliminates the desire to continue using it after only one therapy session.
Apart from unique treatment methods and a top medical team appreciated worldwide, we provide luxury accommodation with modernly furnished rooms, and also accommodation for family members to facilitate the treatment. A gym, swimming pool, and hot tub are also available for this purpose.
Caring for every patient is paramount. That is why VIP Vorobiev clinic staff respect the privacy of all patients at all times, even after successfully completing treatment. As well, there is a follow-up within the first year after discharge to make sure everything goes well.
It is important to identify that crystal meth is not worth the euphoria it gives. Crystal methamphetamine side effects can be catastrophic in the life of an addict. The sooner the addict is able to quit crystal meth, the better. And we are here to help.
Book a free online consultation to learn about the treatment program and how to start your detoxification
Frequently Asked Questions
How is Crystal Meth Used?
It has various routes of abuse, which can make it hard to discover when someone is abusing it. It can be swallowed, crushed into powder and snorted, injected, or smoked. Those who inject or smoke will typically have paraphernalia to enable this, and this can be a pointer to addiction.
What is the Average Age of a Crystal Meth User?
Most individuals start using the drug in their early 20s, with the average age being 23 in 2016. The typical user tends to be between 19 and 30 years of age.
Is it Impossible to Get Over a Meth Addiction Alone?
No, it is not impossible. However, the dependence makes it hard for an addict to function without the drug. And even when they try to stop, the crystal methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may get unbearable, paired with the cravings, which eventually lead them back to the drug.