Methamphetamine is commonly
known as "speed," "meth," and "chalk." In its
smoked form it is often referred to as "ice," "crystal,"
"crank," and "glass." It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting
crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. The drug was developed
early in this century from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally
in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Methamphetamine's chemical structure
is similar to that of amphetamine, but it has more pronounced effects on the
central nervous system. Like amphetamine, it causes increased activity, decreased
appetite, and a general sense of well-being. The effects of methamphetamine
can last 6 to 8 hours. After the initial "rush," there is typically
a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.
Methamphetamine is a Schedule
II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available
only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. There are a few accepted
medical reasons for its use, such as the treatment of narcolepsy, attention
deficit disorder, and -- for short-term use -- obesity; but these medical uses
Methamphetamine abuse has
three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Low-intensity abuse
describes a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug but uses methamphetamine
on a casual basis by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers
are psychologically addicted and prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine to
achieve faster and stronger high. Binge abusers use methamphetamine more than
low-intensity abusers but less than high-intensity abusers.
Low-intensity abusers swallow or snort methamphetamine, using it the same way
many people use caffeine or nicotine. Low-intensity abusers want the extra stimulation
the methamphetamine provides so that they can stay awake long enough to finish
a task or a job, or they want the appetite suppressant effect to lose weight.
These people frequently hold jobs, raise families, and otherwise function normally.
They may include people such as truck drivers trying to reach their destination,
workers trying to stay awake until the end of their normal shift or an overtime
shift, and housewives trying to keep a clean house a well as be a perfect mother
Even though a law enforcement
officer is not likely to encounter low-intensity abusers, these individuals
are one step away from becoming binge abusers. They already know the stimulating
effect that methamphetamine provides them by swallowing or snorting the drug,
but they have not experienced the euphoric rush associated with smoking or injecting
it and have not encountered clearly defined stages of abuse. However, simple
switching to smoking or injecting methamphetamine offers the abusers a quick
transition to a binge pattern of abuse.
Binge abusers smoke or inject
methamphetamine and experience euphoric rushes that are psychologically addictive.
Rush-The rush is the initial response the abuser feels when smoking or injecting
methamphetamine and is the aspect of the drug that low-intensity abusers do
not experience when snorting or swallowing the drug. During the rush, the abuser's
heartbeat aces and metabolism, blood pressure, and pulse sore. Meanwhile, the
abuser can experience feelings equivalent to ten orgasms. Unlike the rush associated
with crack cocaine, which lasts for approximately 2 - 5 minutes, the methamphetamine
rush can continue for 5-30 minutes.
The reason for the methamphetamine
rush is that the drug, when smoked or injected, triggers the adrenal gland to
release a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline), which puts the body in a
battle mode, fight or flight. In addition, the physical sensation that the rush
gives the abuser most likely results from the explosive release of dopamine
in the pleasure center of the brain.
High-The rush is followed
by the high, sometimes called the shoulder. During the high, the abuser often
feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative, often interrupting other
people and finishing their sentences. The high can last 4-16 hours.
Binge-The binge is the continuation
of the high. The abuser maintains the high by smoking or injecting more methamphetamine.
Each time the abuser smokes or injects more of the drug, a smaller euphoric
rush than the initial rush is experienced until, finally, there is no rush and
no high. During the binge, the abuser becomes hyperactive both mentally and
physically. The binge can last 3-15 days.
at the end of the binge when nothing the abuser does will take away the feeling
of emptiness and dysphoria, including taking more methamphetamine. Tweaking
is very uncomfortable, and the abuser often takes a depressant to ease the bad
feelings. The most popular depressant is alcohol, with heroin a close second.
Tweaking is the most dangerous
stage of the methamphetamine abuse cycle to law enforcement officers and other
individuals near the abuser. If the abuser is using alcohol to ease the discomfort,
the threat to law enforcement officers intensifies. During this stage, law enforcement
officers must clearly identify the underlying dangers of the situation and avoid
the assumption that the tweaker is just a cocky drunk.
Crash-To a binge abuser,
the crash means an incredible amount of sleep. The body's epinephrine has been
depleted, and the body uses the crash to replenish its supply. Even the meanest,
most violent abuser becomes almost lifeless during the crash and poses a threat
to no one. The crash can last 1-3 days.
Normal-After the crash,
the abuser returns to normal--a state that is slightly deteriorated from the
normal state before he used methamphetamine. This stage ordinarily lasts between
2 and 14 days. However, as the frequency of binging increases, the duration
of the normal stage decreases.
Withdrawal-No acute, immediate
symptoms of physical distress are evident with methamphetamine withdrawal, a
stage that the abuser may slowly enter. Often 30-90 days must pass after the
last drug use before the abuser realizes that he is in withdrawal. First, without
really noticing, the individual becomes depressed and loses the ability to experience
pleasure. The individual becomes lethargic; he has no energy. Then the craving
for more methamphetamine hits, and the abuser often becomes suicidal. If the
abuser, however, takes more methamphetamine at any point during the withdrawal,
the unpleasant feelings will end. Consequently, the success rate for traditional
methamphetamine rehabilitation is very low. Ninety-three percent of those in
traditional treatment return to abuse methamphetamine.
The high-intensity abusers
are the addicts, often called speed freaks. Their whole existence focuses on
preventing the crash, and they seek that elusive, perfect rush--the rush they
had when they first started smoking or injecting methamphetamine.
With high-intensity abuser,
each successive rush becomes less euphoric, and it takes more methamphetamine
to achieve it. Each high is not quite as high as the one before. During each
subsequent binge, the abuser needs more methamphetamine, more often, to get
a high that is not as good as the high he wants or remembers.
Tweaking for the high-intensity
abuser is still the most dangerous time to confront him because tweakers are
extremely unpredictable and short-tempered. The crash is often spoken of in
terms of I never sleep, or I sleep with one eye open. In an attempt to appear
normal, perhaps because of an appointment with a doctor, lawyer, or court official,
high-intensity abusers will make themselves take short naps; otherwise, they
see no need to come down from the high.
Meth withdrawal, length
and severity of depression is related to how much and how often Meth was used.
Withdrawal symptoms including, cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion,
restlessness, insomnia, deep or disturbed sleep, may last up to 48 hours.
Meth addiction recovery
is a process that a drug addict goes through on their way to sobriety. Meth
addiction recovery generally takes place in drug addiction treatment centers.
People recover from Meth addiction every single day, but they rarely do it alone.
The process of Meth addiction recovery is multi-step. Individuals who are recovering
from Meth addiction first need to realize that they have a problem and are willing
to work towards a solution. At this point, the addict should enroll in a drug
addiction treatment program. Long term drug addiction treatment programs are
proven to have a higher success rate due to the fact that the individual is
given more time to gain the benefits of the treatment community.
Initially the drug addict
will go through a detoxification process as part of their drug addiction recovery.
This is only part of the initial steps of drug addiction recovery; many individuals
misinterpret this vital step as the "only" step and feel that they
have accomplished their goal of drug addiction recovery. After detoxification
the recovering drug addict must learn life's lessons and come to an understanding
of why they began to use drugs. There are many steps that follow and each drug
addiction treatment center will go through them at a different pace and hit
unique points that are of importance on the road of drug addiction recovery.
The most important key to finding and remaining in a drug addiction recovery
program is that it is right for you.