There can be a lot of frequently asked questions when it comes to meth….and addiction. Here are some of the ones I hear the most. If you have a question, please submit it here or scroll down below for consideration. We look at, and add FAQ’s all the time. Thanks!
- 1. Meth Addiction Information
- 1. Are you addicted?
- 2. What is meth?09.12.15More
Methamphetamine -- its slang terms include 'crystal,' 'crank,' 'glass,' 'ice,' 'speed' and 'Tina' -- is a powerful, addictive synthetic stimulant that causes the brain to release a surge of dopamine, creating a high that lasts from six to 24 hours.
Like cocaine, meth comes in two forms: powder or rock. The powder form is usually white, odorless and bitter-tasting and can be snorted, smoked, eaten, dissolved in a drink and ingested, or heated and injected. The purer form of the drug, called "crystal," "glass" and "ice," appears as clear, chunky crystals that are usually smoked or injected. Meth can also come in small, colored tablets, but they are less common. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/faqs/
- 3. How is meth made?09.12.15More
Making methamphetamine is a multi-step cook process. The key ingredient is ephedrine or its cousin, pseudoephedrine. Both are chemicals found in over-the-counter cold, cough and allergy medicines. Additional chemicals are used to isolate the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, cook it into meth, and process it into a form for consumption. These chemicals can be cheap, everyday household items like ammonia, lye, and red phosphorus scraped from matchbook covers. Start to finish, the cook process takes about 48 hours and can be hazardous because at one or more stages, the solution needs to be heated, producing toxic fumes and the chance of explosion.
- 4. What effects does meth have on the body?09.12.15More
Methamphetamine causes the body to release large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, resulting in a prolonged sense of pleasure or euphoria for the user; however, over time, this causes severe side effects. With repeated use, meth depletes the brain's stores of dopamine and actually destroys the wiring of the dopamine receptors. This is a major reason why users become so addicted to the drug; without it they are no longer able to experience pleasure (a condition known as anhedonia), and they usually slip into a deep depression. Although dopamine receptors can grow back over time, studies have suggested that chronic meth use can cause other permanent brain damage, such as declines in reasoning, judgment and motor skills.
In addition, meth is a powerful stimulant that causes the heart to race and the blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to a number of serious medical problems, including heart attack, stroke and even death. During these energy-fueled meth "runs," which can last days, users generally exhibit poor judgment and dangerous, hyperactive behavior. For instance, many addicts have committed petty and violent crime when high on the drug, and even for casual users the drug can increase the libido and lead them to engage in risky, unprotected sex. Long-time users have been known to develop symptoms of psychosis, including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and delusions.
- 5. How does one recover from meth addiction?09.12.15More
Experts once thought cases of meth addiction were hopeless -- a high percentage would always relapse -- but today they know that recovery is possible, although it may take years of medication and behavior therapy.
Because methamphetamine changes the brain's wiring by destroying its dopamine receptors, users need almost a year to allow those receptors to regrow. Until then, addicts cannot experience pleasure without the drug, and most slip into a deep depression that may cause them to relapse. This depression can be treated with psychopharmacology, and now many treatment programs include prescriptions for anti-depressants.
In addition, meth addicts must relearn certain behaviors. Because meth has trained them to associate all pleasure with the drug, they need to learn to modify their thinking and expectations. Counseling helps them cope with their cravings, examine the personal issues that lead to the abuse, and help them avoid situations that may cause a relapse. Many treatment experts insist that out-patient treatment is essential to recovery, with some programs starting to work with addicts even while they are still using the drug. In addition, some experts believe that because the disease is so debilitating and the recovery process so protracted, meth addicts also need help and reinforcement from the criminal justice system; many newly-formed drug courts keep track of users in recovery and install penalties for not participating in treatment programs.
- 6. How does meth differ from other stimulants such as cocaine?09.12.15More
Although both cocaine and methamphetamine are psychostimulants that trigger the release of dopamine, the drugs are quite different. For one thing, methamphetamine produces a stronger and longer-lasting high than the high produced by cocaine. Animal studies conducted at UCLA show that cocaine releases 350 units of dopamine, while methamphetamine releases almost four times as much -- about 1,200 units. Similarly, smoking meth produces a high that lasts from six to 24 hours, while smoking cocaine produces a high that lasts only 20 to 30 minutes. And it takes the human body about 12 hours to remove about 50 percent of methamphetamine, compared to only one hour for cocaine.
In addition, drug enforcement officials have a better opportunity to limit the spread of methamphetamine than cocaine because of the way the drugs are produced. Cocaine is a natural (as opposed to synthetic) drug derived from plants that can be grown throughout the world. Methamphetamine is a man-made drug that requires a supply of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, chemicals found in cold and cough medicines and produced in bulk by only nine factories around the world. If drug enforcement officials could tighten control over the supply of these chemicals and to whom they are sold, experts says the meth epidemic could be stopped.
- 7. How is meth classified by the DEA and what are the sentences applied for meth possession or meth-related crimes?09.12.15More
The DEA classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II controlled substance, the second-highest classification that also includes cocaine and morphine. According to the Controlled Substances Act, Schedule II narcotics are described as having a high potential for abuse, leading to severe psychological or physical dependence while having an appropriate medical use in certain situations.
The federal government sets minimum sentencing requirements for traffickers of methamphetamine depending on the amount of meth seized and previous offenses. One example: the federal government requires that first-time methamphetamine traffickers with possession of more than 50 grams be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.
- 8. Who is using meth?09.12.15More
There are 1.4 million meth users in America, and the number is rising. Although meth has generally been associated with white, male, blue-collar workers in rural areas of the western United States, with meth's spread to the East Coast there's now more diversity among users. The National Association of Counties reports that users are both high school and college students and white and blue collar-workers as well as people in their 20s and 30s who are unemployed. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more men than women have tried meth in their lifetimes, and vastly more whites than African-Americans, Latinos and Hispanics.
- 9. What is meth's impact on a community and families?09.12.15More
On families the impact can be devastating. Local officials are finding that meth brings increased cases of child endangerment, abuse and neglect. When parents crash after days of speeding on meth, their children are left to fend for themselves, sometimes for days. Parents under the influence of meth may also sexually or physically abuse their children. And, with parents cooking up meth at home, the children are exposed to toxic, combustible chemicals.
For a community, meth brings a crime wave. Property crimes, car theft and identification theft soar because addicts need money for their habit. Local jails have to house newly-arrested meth users and health care facilities must treat patients who overdose or are injured in lab explosions. Altogether, meth affects the whole range of a community's social and health services.
- 10. How have the makers of pseudoephedrine cold and cough remedies dealt with the problem of their products being turned into meth?09.12.15More
Ever since the federal government first tried getting DEA regulations in the mid-80s to deal with the meth problem, pharmaceutical companies have known that these products could be misused and turned into meth.
By the 1990s, with the DEA keeping up pressure to constrict the supply of ephedrine and pseudoepedrine going to meth, Pfizer, maker of the popular Sudafed, tried including additives that would make it harder for meth cooks to extract pseudoephedrine. However, the additives made it harder for the body to absorb the decongestant and the work was abandoned.
And Warner-Lambert Co., now owned by Pfizer, holds the patent to another possible solution: a "mirror image" form of pseudoephedrine that can't be turned into methamphetamine. But product development hasn't been pursued because getting FDA approval would be a long, very expensive road. (See interview with Pfizer's Steven Robins). Over the years, Congress has not seriously debated financing research into a cold remedy that can't be turned into meth, or making it easier for Pfizer to get federal approval for its "mirror image" drug.
Pfizer now has on the market a version of Sudafed, Sudafed PE, with the decongestant phenylephrine that can't be turned into meth. But time will tell if it's as popular with consumers as Sudafed, which Pfizer continues to sell. Other companies are beginning to put phenylephrine into their cold remedies, as well as other alternatives such as the combination of acetaminophen and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
Critics of the pharmaceutical companies say their long opposition to regulating ephedrine and pseudoephedrine at the wholesale and retail level so that it can't be diverted to the meth trade has been a key factor in the growth of meth abuse that now affects 1.4 million Americans.
- 11. Am I a crystal meth addict?09.12.15More
- Have you tried to stop or reduce your crystal use and failed?
- Is crystal making you feel depressed or hopeless?
- Are you using more crystal: greater amounts or more often?
- Are you missing work, social commitments, and family obligations due to your crystal use?
- Are you spending more money on crystal than you would like?
- Do you regret things you do while using?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might be an addict.
- 12. Is using meth dangerous?09.12.15More
We know from personal experience that using crystal meth can be dangerous. Many of us have suffered serious consequences from using crystal meth. Some of us have ended up in emergency rooms, psych wards, or jails. Many of us became paranoid, hearing voices and believing we were being watched by the authorities or persecuted by other people. Some people claim that their crystal use led to HIV infection; others are resistant to many HIV medications because they stopped taking them while they were using. Hepatitis C, staph infections, syphilis, and other STDs were contracted by others. Other personal experiences have included:
- Fatigue, insomnia
- Weight loss/wasting
- Heart problems
- Lung collapse
- Stroke or seizure
- Brain hemorrhage
- Skin abscesses
- High blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts