What is methamphetamine (meth)?

Methamphetamine (meth, speed, crank, crystal-meth, glass) is a powerful stimulant that produces increased alertness and elation. Its effects are similar to cocaine but last longer. Easily made with inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients in makeshift laboratories, methamphetamine is cheaper to produce than cocaine.

Methamphetamine can be swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected. In powder form, it can be mixed with water and injected in the veins or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked. Chunks of clear, high-purity methamphetamine are called ice, crystal or glass. It looks like rock candy and is smoked like crack cocaine.

Low doses of methamphetamine can make you feel alert and energetic. With continued use, however, the pleasurable feelings can disappear. The user soon needs to take higher doses more often to achieve the same effects. Someone using methamphetamine is easily agitated. One minute she is calm and content, the next she is angry and fearful. Addicts may pick at imaginary bugs on their skin and become obsessed with repetitive actions.

The crash that follows a methamphetamine binge involves agitated depression and an intense craving for more of the drug. These feelings soon give way to exhaustion and long, deep sleep—again followed by severe depression. During this last phase, the potential for suicide is very high.

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