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Crystal Meth: Some Hard Facts About A Hard Drug.
There isn’t a lot of good news about crystal meth. As one of the most highly addictive illegal drugs on the market, crystal meth production and sales constitute a true growth industry. Crystal meth has been stereotyped as a lower-class and rural problem, and while there is some reasonable evidence to support the origin of that stereotype, the truth is that crystal meth is increasingly popular as a party drug in urban centers and more upscale demographics too.
The term “crystal meth” refers to the crystalline form of methamphetamine, methylamphetamine, or desoxyephedrine. It is known by a wide variety of street names, most commonly including “crystal”, “rock”, “ice,” or “glass” (due to its appearance). Crystal meth is consumed most commonly by smoking out of glass pipes, such as the way that crack cocaine is used. Meth users melt down the crystalline substance and smoke it, although other methods include injecting, snorting, swallowing, or even inserting it into the anus or urethra.
Crystal meth users turn to the drug for the effects it produces: euphoria, increased energy and alertness, increased self-confidence and feelings of power, and increased libido. Some women may take crystal meth due to its causing extreme weight loss, although this is a very temporary (and highly dangerous) solution to that particular goal. The high that crystal meth produces is also uncommonly long-lasting, producing all of those heightened feelings for up to twelve hours in some cases.
That’s as positive as it gets. The come-down from crystal meth use is intense, characterized by excessive sleeping, increased appetite (which is why the weight loss “virtue” is so temporary), heightened anxiety, and profound depression. This depression from crystal meth withdrawal both lasts longer and is far more severe by even that which arises from cocaine withdrawal. Essentially, once a person takes crystal meth, they’re going to want more – either due to the desire to replicate the high or the need to escape the come-down. Combine this addictive quality with the relative cheapness of the drug and the relative ease with which it can be used, and the result is an epidemic which sees an addiction rate currently approaching 1.5 million active users in the United States.
The cravings for crystal meth are exceptionally strong, and the human body’s tolerance to its narcotic effects is developed relatively quickly. This is why casual users become addicts because they are searching to replicate that original high but need increasing amounts of the drug in order to achieve it. The effects of sustained crystal meth use are severe, including anorexia, restlessness, diarrhea or constipation, insomnia, headaches, dry mouth, convulsions, heart failure and strokes, and death.
Psychologically, the grandiosity resulting from meth use inevitably leads its users into increasingly dangerous situations, and being consumed with pursuing the drug leads users to become distant from their families, parents to be neglectful with their children, and previously cautious individuals to engage in criminal behavior. Crystal meth also has profound and upsetting cosmetic effects: It dries out the skin completely, and dries out the gums, which combined with constant grinding leads to teeth falling out and the jaw collapsing. This gives serious users that stereotypical skeletal appearance.
Crystal meth labs are usually concentrated in remote places, since even the production of the drug is dangerous – it is highly combustible. For this reason, meth has generally been a rural or Midwestern concern. Its popularity is on the upswing, however, and the major cities are seeing more incidences of crystal meth use and addiction as a result of it. Big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are increasingly more likely to see meth dens, and that can certainly be considered to be a troubling prospect.
There is no “miracle cure” or medication that makes meth come-down easy or instantly erases the effects. It takes time and effort for an addict to recover.
Tips to improve an individual’s overall health and nutritional status in early recovery:
- Stay hydrated. An increased intake of water and other fluids is recommended to help fight fatigue and maintain body temperature. Carbonated drinks should be avoided as they are dehydrating and can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
- Eat healthy. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods supply necessary nutrients to help speed up recovery.
- Take a multivitamin. Vitamin pills can help replenish nutrients in the body that are important in recovery.
- Get plenty of rest. Quality sleep is essential to calm down the overstimulated brain. If it is difficult to fall asleep, consider taking some over-the-counter sleep aids, read a book or watch a movie on television.
- Stay active. Exercise is helpful in coping with irritability and low moods. However, it is important for the recovering addict to avoid overdoing it. Light exercises such as walking or low-impact cardio are recommended.
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