Methamphetamine is a stronger and longer acting chemical derivative of amphetamine. The same properties that make methamphetamine effective in the medical field also cause its potential for addiction.
Methamphetamine , also referred to as N-methylamphetamine, is closely related to amphetamine in its structure chemically. It moves through the body and the nervous system and performs as a powerful stimulant. Methamphetamine has a chemically similar name and structure to MDMA (Ecstasy), but the results of taking each drug are completely different. Most particularly, when taken recreationally, methamphetamine can give the user a feeling of confidence, and rushes of intense energy, while not providing the usual sympathetic , warm loving feelings associated with MDMA. MDMA’s slight psychedelic effect is also missing in methamphetamine. However drug induced psychosis can occur from methamphetamine overdose, with strong hallucinations and paranoid delusions as common developments.
How Methamphetamine Functions
Methamphetamine works by promoting the discharge of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters from their stores in neurons. Two specific neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, create the intense high of amphetamines. Both are released in great quantity by methamphetamine use.The dopamine component provides an enjoyable high as it fuels the reward centre of the brain, while norepinephrine energizes the body and brain by lighting up the fight or flight system.
Methamphetamine is more fat soluble than just amphetamine. This makes the passage through the body tissues easier, so the reaction to methamphetamine or high is more rapidly and profoundly felt. Methamphetamine is also harder for the body to metabolise for excretion, thus methamphetamine remains in the system longer than amphetamine or other drugs, which also prolongs and intensifies the high. Moreover when the body eventually breaks down metahamphetamine that breakdown produces amphetamine as a breakdown product, allowing the drug to work as a stimulant a second time.
Methamphetamine intoxication lasts between 6-8 hours before the high starts to lessen. Then as dopamine and norepinephrine levels start to diminish, the user begins to feel depressed and tired, so there is a strong feeling of temptation to redose with methamphetamine.
However, taking another dose never achieves the same level of intoxication of the original dose. Both norepinephrine and dopamine reserves are now somewhat depleted, and after the original dose the receptors for these neurotransmiters become less responsive as well. Nonetheless, an addict can continue using for 2-3 days or more by redosing at higher methamphetamine levels, and then the user runs a high risk of methamphetamine induced psychosis.
Methamphetamine Induced Psychosis
Amphetamine psychosis mimics the psychotic incidents of of paranoid schizophrenics. The violent mood swings, confrontational attitude, accompanied by paranoid beliefs that “they” are out to get them, make them much more likely to bear arms and use these weapons.
The excessive release of dopamine seems to be the cause of amphetamine induced psychosis. Antipsychotic medications like chlorpromazine can end the psychosis almost immediately.
Stimulant. schedule II (Canada), schedule II (U.S.A.), schedule II (INCB), Class B (U.K.)
Presciption pill form (Desoxyn, Methadrin). Powder form that contains methamphetamine hydrochloride. White crystals of methamphetamine (ice) (crystal) (crystal meth).
Crystal, crystal meth, meth, ice, crank, tweak.
METHOD OF INGESTION
Swallowing a dose can take between 20 minutes to an hour to produce the effects. Snorting can take up to ten minutes. Intravenous and smoking provide the quickest results, instantaneous to 2 minutes.
COMMON IMMEDIATE EFFECTS AND RISKS
Euphoria, confidence, excitability. Can also be agitated and over-talkative and prone to delusions of grandeur. Nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations, stomach cramps and diarrhea can also occur. Heart attack or stroke. HIV or hepatitis contraction through using shared needles or unprotected sex.
COMMON LONGER TERM EFFECTS AND RISKS
Psychosis, paranoia, brain damage, causing permanent psychological problems. Liver damage, fatal kidney and lung conditions. Malnutrition. Loss of teeth ( Meth-mouth), and scarring of the skin due to obsessive scratching.
Potential for Methamphetamine Addiction
How you use Methamphetamines will effect the dependency potential. When taken in low, prescribed doses, methamphetamine shows little propensity to cause an addiction. Using it intravenously or smoking it creates a high dependency potential. When large doses of methamphetamine are smoked or injected the effects reach the brain almost immediately causing an extreme high because dopamine levels soar. Almost the same phenomenon occurs when injecting or smoking most drugs. When compared to people who snort or swallow methamphetamine, they have a lower potential for addictions as they are not having the extreme highs and lows. Although, many addicts start off as light “weekend users”, they eventually become addicted because rather quickly they need stronger and more frequent doses to get high, or even function.
History and Usage Patterns
In 1919 the first record of a synthetic formulation of Methamphetamine took place, 30 years after the first amphetamine synthesis. Methamphetamine usage more or less follow the path first established by amphetamines, but neither drug was used as a prescribed medicine or a recreational high until the 1930’s.
There are medically useful properties of Methamphetamine, primarily those caused by the effect of the drug on the fight-or-flight system such as dilation of the airways, increased blood pressure and heart rate, heightened alertness and focus, as well as a suspension of appetite. They have also proven to be medically effective in treating Attention Deficit Disorder and as a diet aid to provide appetite suppression and thereby help treat obesity. Dilation of the airways can also help treat asthma and alleviate breathing difficulties.
During World War II, production increased because amphetamines were issued to soldiers. After the war, they were marketed and sold as diet aids and energy boosting pills. The public was able to buy them without prescriptions, so they quickly became popular amongst students and truck drivers, and others working long hours, or for those who wanted to lose weight. Growing abuse led to an enforcement of prescription only sales. This left a huge opening for an illegal market, which was quickly taken over by biker gangs. Crackdowns on doctors handing out prescriptions like candy, or prescription holders selling their pills, led to secret home laboratories that made methamphetamine from over the counter cold medications. In some communities meth cooking replaced illegal liquor stills as a source of illicit income.
Abuse of Methamphetamines has increased since the late 1980’s, soaring in rural areas in the 2000’s. Many home labs have proliferated in these areas, causing many fires, explosions, injuries and deaths, taking a heavy toll in human casualties, environmental damage, and adding the increased danger and criminality for anyone involved with the use of Methamphetamine.
Lately large scale meth cooking has been taken over by drug cartels and other organized crime groups to meet demand created by a crackdown on prescription opiate medication use as Oxycontin. Methamphetamine synthesis has even spawned the most dramatically acclaimed television show, Breaking Bad.