Meth was produced from ephedrine back in 1893 and it wasn't until the 50's that crystallized meth was produced. Methamphetamine prescriptions were prescribed for many people in the 50's for treating medical health problems such as narcolepsy and obesity.
Today, meth is one of the most threatening abused illegal drugs in many areas throughout the United States among teens, young and many older adults. Meth labs seizures and incidents are still on the rise. In 2011 there were a total of 3,809 meth lab busts nationwide.
That's why we decided to do an updated versoin of the original article Crystal Methamphetamine (Meth) Addiction and Treatment written in 2007 to continue educating individuals are the dangers of this drug.
Today meth is produced illegally in foreign countries and domestically in the U.S. in various sized labs for the purpose of selling to drug dealers and meth users. Throughout the past several years the production of meth has changed and is produced in superlabs, small mom and pop labs and can even be produced in 2 liter soda bottles. Clandestine labs can be found throughout the United States in many areas and poses a threat not only to meth users but those who produce the stimulant drugs, surrounding neighborhoods and the environment.
There are several different colors meth can be found in today white, yellow, brown or pink and it comes in rock type pieces or in crystalline powder form. On the streets it's often referred to as meth, crank, crystal and speed. A third of the meth found in the U.S. is produced in smaller illegal labs that are found in hotels, vacant buildings, barns, homes, apartments, and even in the bed of a truck or trunk of a car. The largest portion of meth comes from Mexico and Southern California. The production is on a much larger scale and manufactured in large super labs and then illegally trafficked throughout the country.
Main Ingredients Used in the Production of Meth
Some of the main chemicals that are used today for manufacturing methamphetamine in illegal labs include an ingredient that's found in cold medications called pseudoephedrine, anhydrous ammonia that's mostly used as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant, and red phosphorus that's used in matches.
There are several ways meth is abused such as ingesting, snorting, injecting or smoking the stimulant drug. Today though, smoking meth is becoming the more common choice among users. When the user smokes meth it reaches the brain very fast and creates an intense high but at the same time, addiction can take place sooner also. Anytime a person abuses meth no matter how it's administered they risk overdose and death.
Common Effects Experienced from Crystal Meth Use
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Increased breathing
- A rapid heart rate
- An irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
An individual may also experience a euphoric rush (intensity depends on how the drug is administered and the amount used).
Physical and Emotional Consequences Associated with Long Term Meth Use
Not only can abusing methamphetamine lead to addiction but there are many physical and psychological problems associated with the use of this drug. If a person continues to abuse meth they risk severe mental disorders, memory loss and very serious dental problems too. Other risks associated with the repeated use of meth over an extended period of time include:
- Unstable moods
- Violent behavior
- Meth mouth (severe dental problems)
- Dangerous weight loss
- Hallucinations (visual and auditory)
- Delusional feelings of bugs crawling under their skin
- Hepatitis B & C
Methamphetamines are abused by people in all age groups but fortunately in some areas throughout the United States the use of meth is dropping among young people. Many people today are still in need of intense therapy and treatment for meth addiction and continue to risk overdose and death. Unfortunately many people are chronic meth users taking large quantities of the drug during use. When administering meth in high doses a person can experience dangerous symptoms that could lead to overdose and death as well.
Methamphetamine Overdose Symptoms
- Chest pains
- Heart attack
- Problems breathing
- Damage to the kidneys
- Possible kidney failure
- Severe stomach pain
Treating Meth Addiction
The use of meth is extremely dangerous as you can see but unfortunately many meth users combine their use of meth with alcohol, other street drugs, or prescription drugs as well. This just intensifies their physical and emotional health risks and increases their chance of overdose and death. Because meth is such a powerful, destructive and addictive stimulant if a person is a frequent user and has abused the drug for an extended period of time, intense therapy is needed in order to overcome their addiction.
Many frequent or chronic meth users also abuse alcohol or other drugs which makes overcoming addiction more complex. Not only can withdrawal symptoms be more intense but a person's mental and physical health has been extremely jeopardized as well. It's important that detoxification is overseen by medical professionals in order for a person to safely detox and manage their withdrawal symptoms.
A full psychological and physical assessment is important for anyone entering treatment for meth addiction. If treatment isn't individualized specifically for that person recovery won't be as successful and the chance of relapse will be much higher. Everyone's life is different and so are their personalities. Individualized behavioral therapy focuses on an individual's thoughts, feelings, habits, behaviors, and triggers. Professional counselors and therapists help a person identify areas of their life that lead to and fuel negative behaviors and thinking patterns and develop helpful changes, strategies and skills to manage their recovery.
A full assessment also identifies any mental health problems a person may have such as bipolar disorder, major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder. Mental health illness is more common than people may think for person's battling addiction. Mental health problems can fuel substance use and substance abuse makes mental health disorders worse. When a person suffers from a mental health illness and is addicted to meth or any other substance it's referred to as a Co-Occurring Disorder or Dual Diagnosis.
Effective individualized treatment will then focus on mental health issues as well as meth addiction making their recovery process much more effective and manageable. This is why professional help is so important for anyone seeking recovery from meth addiction. Meth detoxification is just the first step towards recovery. There are many different areas of a person's life that need to be addressed and modified in order to successfully manage their recovery with long term success.