Awareness In The News
Methamphetamine abuse has become a tremendous challenge for the
entire Nation. Education, prevention, and community involvement
are key parts of our National Strategy to reduce the demand for
meth. People who know about the destructive effects of meth on
the user and the community, are far less likely to use meth.
Please share what you learn about meth with everyone you know and
together we will end the scourge of methamphetamine.
What is methamphetamine?
How is meth made?
How does meth affect a user?
How does meth affect everyone else?
WHAT IS METHAMPHETAMINE?
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant drug
that dramatically affects the central nervous system. It
is usually illegally produced and distributed.
Meth comes in several forms, including powder, crystal, rocks,
and tablets. When it comes in the crystal form it is
called “crystal meth.”
Meth can be taken by swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting
it with a hypodermic needle.
HOW IS METH MADE?
Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which are
derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of
store bought chemicals.
The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine,
commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process
the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. The
ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include:
ether, paint thinner, Freon®, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine
crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium
(taken from inside batteries).
Meth is often manufactured or “cooked” in very crude
laboratories. Many of these labs are not sophisticated operations
and do not require sophisticated chemistry equipment. And
the people who cook the meth usually do not have any chemistry
training. Cooking meth is relatively simple, but highly dangerous
There are two basic categories of meth labs:
Superlabs produce large quantities of
meth and supply organized drug trafficking groups that sell the
drug in communities across the U.S. Most of the larger labs are
controlled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating
in the U.S. and Mexico.
Small Toxic Labs produce smaller quantities
of meth. These labs can be set up in homes, motel rooms,
inside automobiles, and in parks or rural areas -- really almost
HOW DOES METH AFFECT A USER?
Using meth causes an increase in energy and alertness, a decrease
in appetite, and an intense euphoric “rush.” That’s
in the short term.
With sustained use, a meth user can develop a tolerance to it. The
user may take increasingly higher doses of meth trying to catch
that high she first experienced. She may take it more frequently
or may go on binges. She may change the way she takes meth. For
example a user may have started by taking a pill, but as she develops
a tolerance she may begin injecting it. Addiction is likely.
In the long term, a person using meth may experience irritability,
fatigue, headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, aggressive
feelings, violent rages, cravings for more meth, and depression. They
may become psychotic and experience paranoia, auditory hallucinations,
mood disturbances, and delusions. The paranoia may lead to
homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
A fairly common hallucination experienced by meth users is the
so-called crank bug. The user gets the sensation that there
are insects creeping on top of, or underneath, her skin. The
user will pick at or scratch her skin trying to get rid of the
imaginary bugs. This scratching can create open sores that
may become infected.
Photos courtesy of Sheriff’s
Department, Multnomah County, Oregon
Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth.
Meth users also consume excess sugared, carbonated soft drinks,
tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench
their jaws, leading to what is commonly called “meth mouth.” Teeth
can eventually fall out of users’ mouths—even as they do simple
things like eating a sandwich.
Photos courtesy of: Sharlee Shirley, RDH, MPH; Jim Cecil, DMD,
MPH, University of Kentucky, School of Dentistry
High doses of meth can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes
lethal, levels. High doses can also cause convulsions.
People can die as a result of using meth.
Because meth is so addictive, the distance between the short and
long term effects may not be very long.
HOW DOES METH AFFECT EVERYONE ELSE?
As you can imagine, all those toxic chemicals used in the meth
manufacturing process take a toll on the environment. Every
pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste
that may seep into the soil and groundwater.
The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes. These
fumes can severely harm anyone exposed to them. Meth labs
also generate highly explosive gases.
Meth also has a very serious impact on children. Many children
are rescued from homes with meth labs or meth using parents. Meth,
chemicals, and syringes are all within reach of these children. Parents
high on meth neglect their children. And the mental, physical,
and emotional consequences for these Drug Endangered Children are
Millions of our tax dollars are spent each year to clean up meth
labs, to care for Drug Endangered Children, and to pay for law
enforcement to deal with the meth problem.
by: Cheyenne Albro, Director of the Pennyrile Narcotics
Task Force, (Marshall Co. lab); Kentucky Drug Endangered
Children Training Network.
Photo provided by: Det.
Tim Ahumada & Det. Joyell Lucero, Phoenix Police Dept.
Now that you know about meth, pass it on.
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