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Meth Addiction & Recovery Information

Methamphetamine (also referred to as methylamphetamine or desoxyephedrine) is a synthetic stimulant drug used for both medicinal and recreational purposes (see Legal issues). Methamphetamine is highly psychologically addictive. Like most stimulants, large doses of methamphetamine can result in a strong feeling of euphoria at the expense of physical fatigue and a strong "come-down" as the drug's effect wears off.

In the US, medically prescribed methamphetamine is distributed in tablet form under the brand name Desoxyn®.

Illicit methamphetamine comes in a variety of forms. Most commonly it is found as a colourless crystalline solid, sold on the street under a variety of names, such as: crystal meth or crystal. Crystal methamphetamine may also be referred to as shards, rock, P, upside-down b, pony, crissie, crystal, glass, ice, devil's dandruff, chimichanga, Jib, critter, Tina, Crawford, Working Man's Cocaine, Pook, or tik. It is also known as clear in the local street slang of Honolulu, Hawaii. People may confuse crack cocaine with methamphetamine.

It is also sold as a less-pure crystalline powder called crank or speed, or in crystalline rock form called dope, shit, tina, or tweak; both "dope" and "speed" are often used to refer to other drugs. Colourful flavored pills containing methamphetamine and caffeine are known as yaba (Thai for "crazy medicine"). At its most impure, it is sold as a crumbly brown or off-white rock commonly referred to as peanut butter crank. See the list of street names for a more comprehensive list of common street names for methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine found on the street may be pure, or adulterated with chemicals that were used to synthesize it. In some instances, it may be diluted or cut with non-psychoactive substances like inositol. In other instances, it may be mixed with other psychoactive drugs.

Methamphetamine is a highly psychologically addictive drug. The mental and social consequences of quitting can be severe and extremely difficult for the addict. As with all addictions, relapse is common. To combat relapse, many recovering addicts attend 12 Step meetings, such as Crystal Meth Anonymous.

In an article about his son's addiction to methamphetamine, a California writer who has also experimented with the drug put it this way:

[T]his drug has a unique, horrific quality. In an interview, Stephan Jenkins, the singer in the band Third Eye Blind, said that methamphetamine makes you feel 'bright and shiny.' It also makes you paranoid, incoherent and both destructive and pathetically and relentlessly self-destructive. Then you will do unconscionable things in order to feel bright and shiny again (David Sheff, "My Addicted Son," New York Times Magazine, February 6, 2005, p. 44).

Former users have noted that they feel stupid or dull when they quit using methamphetamine. This is because the brain is adapting a need for methamphetamine to think faster, or at what seems to be a higher level. Individuals with ADHD are often at especially higher risk for addiction to methamphetamine, because the drug often increases the user's ability to focus and reduces impulsivity, creating a mechanism by which one is better able to cope. For this reason, drugs like this should be used only under the supervision of a physician. The individual with ADHD is susceptible to meth's adverse effects (see below), so prescription stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin®), dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine®) and amphetamine salt (Adderall®) are overwhelmingly indicated.

Chronic use may result in a tolerance of the drug.

With long-term methamphetamine use, enough dopamine will have flooded the brain to cause chemical cell damage. This often leads to slow thinking (which in turn requires that the addict use meth to 'fix' it), and depression. This is known colloquially as "The Vampire Life." However, in a small unscientific study, researchers were able to reverse many of the addict's symptoms by treatment with fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids. This study has encouraged possible further research into the recuperative effects of omega-3 supplements on the psychological recovery of meth addicts.

Very serious long-term meth abuse correlates highly with poor hygiene and general self-care, and many of the health risks inherent in administering the drug are often severely exacerbated by this. Poor hydration and infrequent dental hygiene strongly increase the risks of damage to teeth from smoking or snorting, while infrequent bathing increases the chance that minor skin rashes or irritations on the arm from needle use will progress to infection and complications. Generally poor maintenance of living conditions can increase the general risk of exposure to illness through a wide variety of malaise-causing agents, such as bacteria that may grow in poorly cleaned living spaces. Finally, if methamphetamine does in fact attack the immune system, it follows that the ability of the individual to resist any illness is compromised, and that heavy meth users, over time, become more susceptible to poor health and illness in general. Severe cases of addiction are often marked by many of these symptoms and hallmarks, which can work in combination to almost completely destroy the user's health.

Methamphetamine has become a major focus of the 'war on drugs' in the US in recent years. In some localities (e.g., Pierce County in Washington state, in 2000), special task forces were formed by police to attack the problem of rampant methamphetamine production.

In some areas of the United States, manufacturing methamphetamine is punishable by a mandatory ten-year prison sentence. In some cases, however, judges have ruled for life in prison without the possibility of parole, especially in cases where victims were killed by overdoses or impure substances.

In Michigan (USA) as of 2005, some county prosecutors have begun to charge methamphetamine producers with environmental crimes for reckless and illegal disposal of hazardous wastes in addition to drug violations as well as child abuse if children live in or near the site. Such sentences can extend prison terms for an offender by several years should sentencing be consecutive.

Crackdowns on the theft of anhydrous ammonia, a substance used in the manufacture of the drug, have resulted in additional prison time. Persons who steal anhydrous ammonia while exposing livestock or pets to it, resulting in the deaths of such creatures, may also be subjected to charges of cruelty to animals.

On April 6, 2004, Oklahoma (USA) issued a state law prohibiting the non-prescription sale of certain over-the-counter medications known to contain ingredients used in meth production. Iowa enacted a law concerning the sale of precursors such as pseudoephedrine. This law requires that non-prescription drugs with pseudoephedrine be placed behind the pharmacist's counter. A person can buy only 330 mg of pseudoephedrine per day. The customer must also show identification and sign a logbook when purchasing the drug. Oregon passed a similar law which adds that names of the purchasers are to be placed on a list which is kept for up to two years. In August 2005, Oregon strengthened its anti-methamphetamine laws even further by passing legislation requiring a prescription to purchase drugs containing pseudoephedrine. Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Montana, South Dakota and Wisconsin also have similar laws, requiring that the drug be kept behind pharmacy counters, not be sold to persons under the age of 18, customers purchasing pseudoephedrine must show identification and sign their names, and limits the amount of the drug that may be bought at a time.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration state factsheets, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Episode Date Set, and the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

On March 9, 2006, President Bush signed The Combat Meth Act, which provides minimum standards for retailers across the country that sell products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. The law limits sales to 3.6 grams of the base ingredient (the pure ephedrine or pseudoephedrine) per day and 9 grams per 30 days, and requires that purchasers provide identification and sign a sales log. In addition, sellers must now keep these products behind the counter or in a locked case and register on-line with the U.S. Attorney General.

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