July 14th, 2010

Keep Walking

Crystal Meth / Meth / Tina

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant and is derived from its parent drug, amphetamine, which has limited medical purposes and Crystal Meth is common among those who use it.

Amphetamines were developed in the 1930’s for use in treating obesity and sleeping problems. In the case of obesity, amphetamine acts to curb appetite. In sleeping problems, a condition that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, amphetamine helps keep the patient awake. Amphetamine is also used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.

Drug Addiction Symptoms: Crystal Meth, as we know it today, was once only found in Hawaii and some western states. The drug had been brought in from Asia. But the drug quickly found its way across the country, and statistics show that at least 10 million people have tried methamphetamine at least once.

Crystal Meth Definition: Crystal Meth is classified as a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. It is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and works on the brain and spinal chord.

Crystal Meth interferes with the normal function of neurotransmitters, which are natural chemicals produced by nerve cells that communicate with each other to regulate thinking and all body systems. One of those neurotransmitters is called dopamine, which influences our natural reward system.

For example, we do a good job, we feel good about ourselves. We get pleasure from the company of others. We enjoy a soft summer breeze.

Any pleasurable feeling relies on the function of dopamine.

Methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine. That's why Crystal Meth addiction is so common. In its legal form, the drug is only available by prescription and those prescriptions cannot be refilled.

Crystal Meth is A VERY dangerous drug: Crystal Meth is very addictive because of its pleasurable effect from the increased release of dopamine. Users become addicted quickly and as they continue to abuse the drug, higher doses are needed, and increased frequency of use.

Chronic abuse of this drug, will alter brain function by damaging neuron cell endings. The dopamine and serotonin neurons do not die, but the cell endings are cut back and while cells endings might grow back, that process is limited by the damage.

Crystal Meth studies of the human brain have shown apparent changes in the dopamine system, and these changes are responsible for reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning.

Methamphetamine use also contributes to changes in areas of the brain associated with memory and emotion. Chronic users have experienced serious emotional and cognitive problems directly attributed to Crystal Meth.

Methamphetamine gets to work quickly, even in small amounts, and persons using it may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

- They may be more active and energetic.
- They may have less appetite.
-Their heart rate may increase or become irregular; their breathing my be more rapid; their blood pressure may rise.
- Rapid heart rate is common, as is irregular heart rate.
- Other side effects are anxiety, irritability, insomnia, tremors, a confused mental state, cardiovascular collapse and even death.

Chronic, long-term use produces anorexia, aggressiveness, paranoia, memory loss, hallucinations and delusional thinking. Long-term Crystal Meth use causes severe dental problems. Methamphetamine use also increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

If a user injects the drug, the HIV risk comes from used needles. But the drug is so intoxicating that users may be less inhibited and often engage in unsafe activities, such as unprotected sex.

Methamphetamine users who have HIV, experience an increase in neuro-injury and cognitive impairment, compared to HIV patients who do not use drugs.

Crystal Meth Binge and crash:

The pleasurable effects of Methamphetamine will wear off before its concentration in the blood is reduced, so users will try to keep the “high” going by taking more.

The powerful lure of the drug keeps the user occupied, often for days, going without food and sleep. This is known as a “run” and that binge leads to a crash. Because of the binge and crash, users lose their sense of reality, as any health concerns are abandoned by the urge for the high. With no sense of time, no awareness of danger, people can literally throw away their lives using this drug.

The media runs stories from time to time about raids on the small illegal labs that produce methamphetamine. The drug is manufactured using common chemicals that can be purchased legally.

In recent years, for example, there was a crackdown on over-the-counter cough medicine because those legal medications were being used to produce methamphetamine. The portable labs are small and can fit into a suitcase.

Illegal operations are set up in home kitchens, basements, garages, hotel rooms or just about any small, private space. However, the labs are also very dangerous, as explosions are not uncommon. These dangerous manufacturing operations are started because a few hundred dollars in materials can lead to thousands on the street. Those who profit from the misery and misfortune of others figure it’s a risk worth taking.

The drug has many street names including meth, speed, crank, chalk, go-fast, zip, tina and cristy.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride is the form of the drug that is smoked, and some of its nicknames include L.A., ice, crystal, 64 glass and quartz.

Bad news/good news: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NASDUH) reported in 2005 about Crystal Meth, that 10.4 million people aged 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once. The rate of annual and 30-day use of the drug had not changed from 2004 to 2005, but the number of people who had tried the drug at least once had declined from 4.9 to 4.3 percent.

There have also been reported dramatic decreases in the illegal methamphetamine labs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, there have been reported increases in the smuggling of larger amounts from Mexico and a much more pure form of the drug.

Methamphetamine and Cocaine Comparison: Crystal Meth and cocaine create similar effects, such as an intense “rush” and feelings of euphoria, but they are very different in the way they work in the body. Cocaine leaves the system rather quickly, as it is metabolized by the body. But, methamphetamine can linger for hours. It stays in the body, unchanged. Meth stays in the brain longer than cocaine, and therefore the drug is longer-lasting. Both methamphetamine and cocaine cause an increase in the levels of dopamine, but levels of dopamine are higher with meth use, because the nerve cell actions are different.

Side-by-Side Comparison:

Methamphetamine is a Stimulant.
Cocaine is a Stimulant and local anesthetic.

Methamphetamine is Synthetic.
Cocaine is derived from an organic substance (leaves of coca plant).

Smoking Methamphetamine produces long-lasting high.
Smoking Cocaine produces a short-term high.

50% of Methamphetamine is removed from the body in 12 hours and increases dopamine release and blocks dopamine re-uptake.
50% of Cocaine is removed from the body in 1 hour.

Methamphetamine has limited medical use.
Cocaine has limited medical use as a local anesthetic for some surgical procedures.

Read about unexpected consequences of Crystal Meth.

Selecting a Treatment Program: There are several things to keep in mind when selecting a treatment program, or center. Foremost is the fact that everybody has an individual need and treatment programs must be tailored to meet that need. One size fits all does not apply.

Recovery needs to take place in the right setting, with the right services and treatments to best effect a positive outcome.

Even if a person does not voluntarily check-in to a treatment program, it does not mean the treatment will be ineffective. Many people present themselves for treatment by court order, not of their own free will, and can receive the same benefit as those who are there voluntarily.

When a person is ready for treatment it is important for that treatment to be ready for him/her. Services must be available, because if a person has to endure being put on a waiting list, or has to drive long distances to receive treatment, the odds are against them from the get go.

It’s easy for people to fall between the cracks if help is not readily available.

In many cases, people entering treatment need to go through medical detoxification. While it is an important first step in the treatment program, detox is not the whole answer to the problem. People need to get the drugs out of their system, but that does not address the long-term problems of addiction.

Treatment must meet your needs!

Treatment programs need to meet the needs of people, beyond the physical and emotional addiction problem itself. We are body, mind and spirit. Intervention that does not include all of a person’s needs falls short of the minimum goal of the program.

Addiction is as much about the spirit as it is about the mind and body. Many addicts going into recovery has legal problems to sort out, job problems, social integration problems. Every aspect of the person’s life needs to be addressed.

Needs change and treatment programs need to change as those needs change. Progress or the lack of progress needs to be assessed on an ongoing basis. What was necessary in the first phases of treatment may need to be changed as time goes on. Perhaps a patient is on medication initially, but will later require counseling or psychotherapy. There may be family matters to work through, or vocational training.

Why 12-STEP?

We recommend that whatever treatment program you choose that you also enroll in a 12-step program. A 12-step program will help address your spiritual needs rather than just your medical needs.We have listed each step below and hope that you will take some time to review each step and consider what it would do for your/your loved ones recovery.

Choose a Crystal Meth Treatment Program that is Age-Appropriate

Treatment programs must be age-appropriate, and sensitive to the culture and ethnicity of the patient. Again, the individual’s need is the key to determining the most effective path of treatment.

Sticking with Crystal Meth Treatment Programs is KEY!

Patients need to complete their treatment programs. Treatment can be a long and difficult road, so patients need to be encouraged to stick with it. Research suggests that people reach a major milestone in recovery after 90 days, but additional treatment can be helpful in taking the patient farther down the road to good health.

The problem is people leave their treatment programs early, often without reaching a significant stage in recovery.

Patients cannot expect to recover if they have to do it alone. Connection to other people is necessary, and in the case of recovery, having sessions with a counselor or being part of a group is an important component of the program.

Many patients, who are addicted to opiates, such as heroin, benefit from drug treatment, using Methadone and LAAM (levo-alpha-acetylmethadol.

Naltrexone is used for patients addicted to opiates, but who are also dependent on alcohol. Smoking addiction is treated with bupropion.

Other medical problems, such as hepatitis B and C are associated with drug abuse and addiction. HIV/AIDS is another major concern and programs need to assess these conditions and provide training for patients to avoid infection.

Mental Health Needs to Be Considered

Patients with mental problems can be helped with a variety of behavioral drugs and treatments. Patients with both drug addiction and mental disorders need a program that works with both aspects. Assessment of these needs is critical in establishing a treatment program that will effectively restore the patient’s health and well-being.

Drug Use MUST Be Monitored!

While in treatment, patients must not be using drugs. Drug use needs to be monitored, and this can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Most commonly, a urinalysis or some other test is sufficient.

If a relapse occurs, and the patient uses drugs during the treatment program, his/her individual treatment plan may require modification. It is important for the treatment program to have a steady, objective monitoring program to meet the needs of the patient.


Just as one size does not fit all patients, sometimes one drug addiction treatment program does not completely rid the patient of the addiction problem. Therefore, many patients need subsequent drug addiction treatment programs to win over the addiction. By nature, people like to do things their own way

They/you will make mistakes They/you will stumble and fall.

Sometimes long-term programs are the answer, or many times through the program.

The important thing is to continue to try to stay clean.

For more information click here.

To find a Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting in New York City, click here.