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What Is Crystal Meth?

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Methamphetamine, also known as meth, chalk, or ice, is a potent stimulant that is highly addictive. Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine that appears as clear crystals that resemble ice. The usual method of administration is smoking.

Meth, in any form, is a man-made drug and derivative of amphetamine. It was first developed in a laboratory in the early 20th century and was originally used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. Effects include increased activity and energy, decreased appetite, and euphoria for several hours, sometimes longer.

Methamphetamine differs from amphetamine in that more of the drug per dose is received in the brain. Thus, meth is a more potent stimulant, and other effects tend to last longer and have more negative impact on the central nervous system.

Meth is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II substance. This means that it can only be legally obtained as a non-refillable prescription. In some cases, it may be prescribed by a physician for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or rarely, weight loss.

What Is Crystal Meth Use?

Crystal meth is most often consumed by smoking, and because of it’s highly-concentrated effect, users can quickly become dependent on the drug even in the beginning stages of use.

After long-term use, meth can cause serious health problems, including memory loss, aggressiveness, psychotic thoughts, damage to the brain and heart, and even stroke.

Over time, meth use usually results in tolerance, which means that increasing amounts are needed to achieve the desired effect. As dependence builds, the user also undergoes terrible side effects if he or she tries to quit, a result that encourages the user to consume more methamphetamine.

Where Is Crystal Meth Made?

Crystal meth is usually produced in secret labs in homes and buildings. Cold medications are the basis of manufacture, and the ingredients are extracted by a “cook.” The substances are then combined with other amphetamines and hazardous chemicals which may include antifreeze, battery acid, or drain cleaner – among others.

Unfortunately, due to the highly-flammable nature of these chemicals, cooks may be severely burned when their products explode. Also, such disasters endanger those nearby, and the laboratories produce toxins that are poisoning to others.

The Stages of Crystal Meth Use

There are seven clear recognized stages of crystal methamphetamine use. They include the following:

The Rush

The rush is the initial effect that the user experiences when crystal meth is smoked. During this time, the person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism increase significantly. A crystal meth rush can last for as long as half an hour.

The High

The crystal meth high follows the rush, and has been referred to as the “shoulder.” During this time, the user may feel arrogant and can become argumentative and rude. He or she may engage in compulsive or hyperactive behavior, such as excessively cleaning for several hours at a time. This period can last for up to 16 hours.

The Binge

A binge is a compulsive action that results in the unfettered abuse of a substance such as alcohol or drugs. It manifests from the user’s desire to maintain the high by consuming more of the substance. Binges can last from three days to two weeks.

During a binge, each use of the drug results in a shorter rush and high, until both effects disappear altogether.


The tweaking stage represents the most intense and potentially dangerous time for the user and others around him or her. This occurs near the end of a binge, in which the user is unable to obtain a rush or high from drug use. Terrible side effects can occur, such as intense cravings, depression, and a loss of identity.

Also, itching is common, and the user may be convinced that insects are crawling underneath his or her skin. The user is unable to sleep and may enter a psychosis in which vivid hallucinations take over. This can result in a total break from reality, and the user may become aggressive and dangerous to others.

The Crash

When the user’s body is no longer able to deal with the side effects of crystal meth use, he or she will crash and sleep for an extended period, sometimes for several days.

The Hangover

After the crash, the user awakens but is exhausted, dehydrated, and malnourished.

This stage, which can last for two weeks, is a drug dependency reinforcer that drives the user to consume more meth and he or she is trying to avoid these feelings.

What is Crystal Meth Withdrawal?

Crystal meth withdrawal can take a month or more to occur and is characterized by fatigue, depression, and an inability to feel pleasure. Intense cravings for the drug can drive the user to suicidal thoughts. This is an extremely painful process that often results in relapse and many who undergo standard addiction treatment return to drug use.

Getting Help

Just Believe Recovery offers integrated, customized residential and partial hospitalization programs for the treatment of meth abuse and other substance use disorders. Our programs feature a variety of research-based services, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, aftercare planning, and more.

Please contact us today if you or someone you love is addicted to meth, other drugs, or alcohol. We are committed to helping people break free from the chains of addiction for life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is Tweaking?
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