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What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamines are synthetic stimulants that are produced and sold illegally in pill form, capsules, powder, and chunks.

A white, odorless, bitter tasting crystalline powder that can be easily dissolved in water or alcohol.

It can be mixed with water for injection or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked. Since methamphetamine will vaporize rapidly, some heat the drug and inhale the fumes that are released.

Methamphetamines may be known as meth, crank, glass, speed, crystal, ice, batu, chalk, shabu, or zip.

"Ice" is a large crystal form of high-purity methamphetamine hydrochloride. Ice derives its name from its appearance: large, clear crystals that resemble chunks of ice, shards of broken glass, or rock candy.

Sometimes called the "poor man's cocaine", methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant of the amphetamine family. Methamphetamines stimulate the central nervous system, and the effects may last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Like cocaine, it is a powerful "upper" that produces alertness and elation, along with a variety of adverse reactions. After the effects of methamphetamine wears off, it can cause severe withdrawal that is more intense and longer lasting than both speed and cocaine. After the initial "rush," there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.

It was not until 1988 that ice became widespread in Hawaii. By 1990, ice spread to the U.S. mainland, although distribution remained limited to retail amounts in just a few regions of the country. In the early 1990s, Koreans served as the principal supply source for ice that was smuggled from Asia directly to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Intelligence data indicates that traffickers from Mexico are supplying Asian organizations/gangs on the West Coast and in Hawaii with methamphetamine for conversion to ice.

Analysis of all samples of ice seized to date in the United States have shown purity levels of 90 to almost 100 percent. In 1996, ice sold for $200 to $450 per gram, from $5,000 to $8,500 per ounce and $35,000 to $50,000 per kilogram. Abusers in the United States ingested ice almost exclusively by smoking the drug in glass pipes.

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 are limited.

Crank refers to any form of methamphetamine. Ice is a crystallized smokeable chunk form of methamphetamine that produces a more intense reaction than cocaine or speed. Ice has an appearance that is clear and crystal-like, and resembles frozen ice water. Crank and ice are extremely addictive and produce a severe craving for the drug.

Methamphetamine Use

Traditionally, methamphetamine users have suffered the same addiction cycle and withdrawal reactions as those suffered by crack cocaine users. Both drugs, after prolonged use, lead to bingeing, which is consuming the drug continuously for up to 3 days without sleep. The user then is driven into a severe depression, followed by worsening paranoia, belligerence, and aggression, which is a period known as tweaking. Finally, the user collapses from exhaustion, only to awaken days later to begin the cycle again.

The new ephedrine-based methamphetamine has a usage pattern unlike that of traditional methamphetamine or crack cocaine. Several times more potent than its other forms, today's methamphetamine produces a reaction far more severe than even crack cocaine, with sleepless binges that last up to 15 days and end with sudden crashes. Chronic, high-dose methamphetamine abusers, often called "speed freaks," are generally undernourished and have a gaunt appearance, poor hygiene, and rotten teeth. These individuals inject methamphetamine every 2 to 3 hours and often as much as 1,000 milligrams each time. Due to the high level of methamphetamine in their systems, "speed freaks" are extremely paranoid.

"The main problem remains, and will remain, the use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs," said Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos. "And the worst part is when they get hopped up on meth and commit violence."

Pharmacology

Methamphetamine can be a lethal, dangerous, and unpredictable drug. Methamphetamine, like cocaine, is a potent central nervous system stimulant. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally; the most frequent method of methamphetamine use is injection. The drug increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and rate of breathing; dilates the pupils; produces euphoria, increased alertness, a sense of increased energy, and tremors. High doses or chronic use have been associated with increased nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. Withdrawal from high doses produces severe depression.

Drug-related violence usually occurs in one of three ways: by users under the influence of the drug, by users who commit violent acts to obtain money or more of the drug, and by distributors who use violence in the course of conducting their business.

Every community with a methamphetamine abuse problem has experienced violence in some form; most commonly this appears as domestic disputes. The extreme agitation and paranoia associated with use of the stimulant often lead to situations where violence is more likely to occur. Chronic use of methamphetamine can cause delusions and auditory hallucinations that precipitate violent behavior or response.

PREGNANCY AND METHAMPHETAMINE

If methamphetamines are used during pregnancy, babies tend to be:

  • asocial
  • incapable of bonding
  • have tremors
  • have birth defects
  • cry for 24 hours without stopping

There is also an increased risk of child abuse and neglect of children born to parents who use methamphetamines.

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