- Classification: Stimulant CSA
- Schedule: Schedule II
- Trade or Other Names: Crank, Crystal, Glass, Ice, Meth, Shard
- Medical Uses: Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, Narcolepsy, Weight control
- Physical Dependence: High
- Psychological Dependence: High
- Tolerance: Yes
- Duration (hours): 2–4
- Usual Method: Oral, injected, smoked, snorted
- Possible Effects: Increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite
- Effects of Overdose: Agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, possible death
- Withdrawal Syndrome: Apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, disorientation*Source: Drug Enforcement Administration.
Crystal Meth, officially called Methamphetamine (synthesized from N-Methylamphetamine), is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is illegally sold and used as a recreational drug. Medically, it can be utilized for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and as a short-term component of weight-loss treatments, but these uses are limited and it is rarely prescribed.
It was developed in 1893 from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Chemically speaking, this drug exists as two enantiomers: levo-methamphetamine and dextro-methamphetamine.
This illicit substance is a mixture which has an equal amount of levo-methamphetamine and dextro-methamphetamine in their pure amine forms. Scientists determined that dextro-methamphetamine is a much stronger CNS stimulant than levo-methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine is not commonly prescribed by doctors due to concerns involving the high human neurotoxicity, possible recreational use as a euphoriant, and the availability of safer drugs with better or at least comparable treatment efficacy.
Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) has been classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II stimulant, which makes it legally available only through a nonrefillable prescription. In small doses, methamphetamine can elevate mood, alertness, concentration and energy in fatigued individuals, reduce appetite and promote weight loss. At higher doses, its use can induce psychosis, seizures, the breakdown of skeletal muscle and strokes. Chronic users can experience unpredictable and quick mood swings, delusions and violent behavior.
Origin of Meth Use
Amphetamine-type stimulants, which include methamphetamine and amphetamine, were developed as synthetic alternatives to ephedra. Ephedra is a botanic extract of Ephedra sinica and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 5000 years. In 1885, ephedrine, the active alkaloid present in ephedra, was extracted and studied. Ephedrine was recognized to be similar to epinephrine, which was also isolated around the turn of the 20th century, but could be taken orally, had a longer duration of action, produced more pronounced and dependable CNS stimulation, and had a larger therapeutic index. The search for a synthetic ephedrine substitute resulted in the development of amphetamine-type stimulants, produced via modification of the ephedrine skeleton with the pharmaceutical goals of CNS stimulation, bronchodilation, or nasal vasoconstriction. Japanese chemist Akira Ogata first synthesized methamphetamine in 1919 using ephedrine as a precursor. Early amphetamine use was primarily via nasal insufflation. In 1932, Smith, Kline, and French began marketing the amphetamine inhaler Benzedrine for use in asthma and congestion. The insufflated amphetamine caused vasoconstriction of the nasal mucosa, decreasing mucosal swelling and edema, and the inhaler was initially available without a prescription. In 1959 the S. Pfeiffer Company began producing Valo inhalers that contained 150-200 mg of methamphetamine.
Desirable “side effects” associated with amphetamine-type stimulant inhalers were noted, resulting in expanding indications for amphetamines and the introduction of oral amphetamine-type stimulant medications. For example, the side effect of wakefulness suggested its value in treating narcolepsy and conditions of drowsiness or exhaustion. Its appetite depressant effects led to the use of amphetamines, including methamphetamine, for weight loss. Other early indications and off-label uses for methamphetamine included schizophrenia, asthma, morphine addiction, barbiturate intoxication and narcosis, alcoholism, excessive anesthesia administration, migraine, heart block, myasthenia gravis, myotonia, enuresis, dysmenorrhea, Meniere’s disease, colic, head injuries, hypotension, seasickness, persistent hiccups, heart block, head injuries, infantile cerebral palsy, codeine addiction, tobacco smoking, pediatric behavior issues, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Amphetamines and their analogs were being presumptively promoted as effective and safe without risk of addiction. In 1940, methamphetamine tablets under the commercial name Methedrine were introduced to the market by the Burroughs Wellcome Company.
Methamphetamine was also used by the military. In World War II, methamphetamine was available to military personnel as Pervitin in Germany and Philopon in Japan. Temmler Pharmaceutical Company introduced Pervitin in 1938 to the European market. Pervitin was available as 3 mg tablets that physicians could provide for the German military units. Dainippon Pharmaceutical Company made Philopon available in Japan in 1941. Methamphetamine in Germany and Japan and amphetamine use in the USA were used to increase alertness, reduce fatigue, and suppress the appetite of soldiers. Use of methamphetamine extended to include war-related industry workers to improve shift work abilities. Later, the USA military used amphetamines in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Today, the use of stimulants, like amphetamines and methamphetamine, is permitted to treat combat fatigue and promote wakefulness in combat. A survey of Persian Gulf War pilots reported the substantial use of stimulants to decrease fatigue during combat.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, methamphetamine was liberally prescribed for numerous indications, and large quantities of it were licitly produced. A broad segment of the population used methamphetamine for a variety of reasons. Housewives, truck drivers, students, and professionals used amphetamines and methamphetamine to promote wakefulness, improve mood or attention, and lose weight. Numerous users gradually increased the doses they used as they developed tolerance to the effects of the drugs. The ways in which the medications could be misused spread quickly. Inhalers could be broken open and the contents ingested directly, or filters could be soaked in alcohol or coffee to reduce irritation of the mouth. Extracting drugs from inhalers for intravenous injection was another method of abuse, first being reported in 1959. Reports of robberies, murder, and other violent acts were linked to inhaler misuse. Prison populations also abused these inhalers, which could be smuggled within containers or letters. Methamphetamine abusers would combine the drug with illicit substances, such as heroin or barbiturates. Use in conjunction with a barbiturate produced what was referred to as “bolt and jolt,” a street term for the increased pleasure associated with this combination of drugs.
In response to a Food and Drug Administration warning of misapplication of the inhalers, some pharmaceutical companies responded by adding a denaturant to deter ingestion. Abusers adapted by injecting the product after boiling off the denaturant. In 1959, the Food and Drug Administration restricted amphetamine and dextroamphetamine inhalers to prescription-only distribution. Methamphetamine inhalers, such as Valo, continued to be marketed until 1965. Starting with Benzedrine in 1949, most of these nasal inhalers were removed from the market by 1971.
How Meth is Consumed
Methamphetamines can be used and abused in many different ways. The drug’s effects change depending on the consumption method. Methamphetamine can be taken orally, smoked, snorted or injected into a vein.
The oral abuse of methamphetamines is not a very common way of consumption among the users. That is because of the fact that it takes a longer period of time to get the desired effects of the drug when taken this way. Oral methamphetamines do not produce an intense high. The user might need to take an increased dose of oral methamphetamines to get the desired effects. These effects can be easily obtained by simply changing the method of consumption.
A second way of abusing the drug is by snorting them into the nose. When snorted, the methamphetamines reach to the brain faster than when they are taken orally. A user will feel the desired effects in about five minutes.
Some people dissolve methamphetamines in water and inject the mixture into the vein with a needle. Once the drug gets into the bloodstream, it can cause the desired effects within seconds, causing a powerful high and extreme feelings of pleasure.
Smoking methamphetamine is a common practice among the abusers. They can use a homemade smoking device made from a light bulb and a water bottle cap. The crystallized substance is then put into the smoking device, and the user melts the drug with a flame. When the substance gets heated in the light bulb, it turns into a liquid form and then forms vapors. After that, the individual inhales the vapors and waits for the effects to appear.
Effects of Methamphetamine Use
Short Term Use Effects:
• Loss of appetite
• Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
• Dilation of pupils
• Disturbed sleep patterns
• Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
• Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
• Panic and psychosis
• Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses
Long Term Use Effects:
• Damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
• Liver, kidney and lung damage
• Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
• Breathing problems if smoked
• Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
• Malnutrition, weight loss
• Severe tooth decay
• Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
• Strong psychological dependence