Crystal Methamphetamine, Crystal Meth is a very pure, smokable form of methamphetamine. It is an extremely addictive stimulant. Crystal Meth is also called jib, crank, meth, crystal, ice, speed. Often distributed as a capsule, powder, or in chunks resembling pieces of ice, it is difficult to know the exact strength of the drug or what dangerous chemicals it has been cut with, even when buying from a familiar supplier. Taking crystal meth with other drugs, including alcohol, greatly increases the risk of overdose and death. Meth is highly addictive, produces extreme cravings, and can have very negative effects. Long-term effects include problems with thinking, memory, and movement.
Immediately after smoking or injection, the user experiences an intense sensation that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Snorting or swallowing meth produces euphoria – a high, but not a rush. After the initial rush, there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior. Other possible immediate effects include increased wakefulness and insomnia, decreased appetite, irritability/aggression, anxiety, nervousness, convulsions and heart attack.
Meth is extremely addictive, and users can develop a tolerance quickly, needing larger amounts to get high. In some cases, users forego food and sleep and take more meth every few hours for days, ‘binging’ until they run out of the drug or become too disorganized to continue. Chronic use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behavior (such as compulsively cleaning, grooming or disassembling and assembling objects), and delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin. Users can obsessively scratch their skin to get rid of these imagined insects. Long-term use, high dosages, or both can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis (often exhibited as violent, aggressive behavior). This violent, aggressive behavior is usually coupled with extreme paranoia. Meth can also cause strokes and death.
An explanation of the brain’s reward system is important to understanding the addiction to methamphetamines. When monitor cells in the brain have been stimulated, a signal is sent to the tip where a small amount of this reward chemical is released. The chemical or neurotransmitter then reaches and stimulates the reward center, causing a feeling of well-being. When the amphetamine molecule comes in through the blood stream, it bypasses the natural nerve cells and causes the artificial release of normal, chemical messengers for positive feelings. Amphetamines lie to both the Reward Center and to the monitor cells in the brain. The cell adapts to the excess stimulating effect of amphetamine by shutting down production of the natural stimulatory chemistry, to try to keep a balance. This short-circuits the survival mechanism, because the reward center cell can’t tell the difference between the drug and the natural chemical messenger. Often the result is addiction and dependence to the immediate, fast, and predictable drug that caused the effect. A meth user’s brain is less able to make life’s normal rewards work for them anymore.
Most addictive drugs are able to produce pleasurable effects by chemically mimicking certain normal brain messenger chemicals that produce positive feelings in response to signals from the brain. Crystal meth is able to produce these artificial feelings of pleasure and leaves users with a chemical imbalance in their brain that drives them to use again and again. Eventually, this reward system of the brain malfunctions and can be permanently damaged.
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