Crystal meth is a colorless, odorless form of d-methamphetamine, a powerful and highly addictive synthetic (man-made) stimulant. Crystal meth typically resembles small fragments of glass or shiny blue-white "rocks" of various sizes. Like powdered methamphetamine (another form of d-methamphetamine), crystal methamphetamine is abused because of the long-lasting euphoric effects it produces. Crystal meth, however, typically has a higher purity level and may produce even longer-lasting and more intense physiological effects than the powdered form of the drug.
Crystal methamphetamine typically is smoked using glass pipes similar to pipes used to smoke crack cocaine. Crystal meth also may be injected. An user who smokes or injects the drug immediately experiences an intense sensation followed by a high that may last 12 hours or more.
Crystal methamphetamine is used by individuals of all ages and is increasingly gaining in popularity as a club drug. It is difficult to determine how many individuals in the United States use crystal methamphetamine because most illicit drug use surveys do not distinguish between crystal methamphetamine and powdered methamphetamine. Those surveys that do draw such a distinction reveal that use of crystal methamphetamine is prevalent. According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey, nearly 5 percent of high school seniors in the United States used crystal methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime and 3 percent used the drug in the past year.
Mood swings, paranoia, anger and depression are risks crystal meth users face. Relationships and general social interactions are negatively affected. Any form of drug abuse or addiction comes at a cost, and crystal meth is no different. Crystal meth addiction can cause permanent life-altering changes. Work, relationships, and the ability to live day to day are affected. Crime, drug busts, restricted job prospects, visa denials, arrests and serious healthcare issues are just some of the ways crystal meth use can disrupt your life.
Crystal meth use is associated with numerous serious physical problems. The drug can cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and damage to the small blood vessels in the brain--which can lead to stroke. Chronic use of the drug can results in inflammation of the heart lining. Users of crystal meth can only guess at its strength, so the risk of overdosing, even with seemingly small quantities, is always an issue. Overdosing can lead to convulsions, respiratory and circulatory collapse, coma and death.
Individuals who use crystal meth also may have episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. The drug can produce psychotic symptoms that persist for months or years after an individual has stopped using the drug. Crystal meth users who inject the drug expose themselves to additional risks, including contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne viruses. Chronic users who inject methamphetamine also risk scarred or collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and liver or kidney disease.
These effects stem from the association the drug has on the bodies' nervous system. Crystal meth when compared to cocaine produces a longer feeling of euphoria, which can last for over 12 hours. That same pleasurable effect observed with cocaine use may only last for a few minutes. The sensational effect of the crystal meth disappears before the concentration of the drug starts to diminish in the blood. Thus the other side effects such as tachycardia, high blood pressure may remain while the euphoric feeling diminishes. Without the required treatment for this addiction the end result is usually fatal. Due to the effects meth has on the blood vessels, there is a high potential for stroke, which in many cases lead to death.