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Meth / Methamphetamine / Crystal Meth Effects:
....Including Long Term

Methamphetamine is the most potent form of amphetamine readily available with or without a prescription. Although pharmaceutical methamphetamine was once widely available in this country, its medical use is restricted today. Almost all of today's methamphetamine / meth is homemade and resembles a fine coarse powder, crystal, or chunk. Its color varies from off-white to yellow and it is furnished in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, capsules or tablets of various sizes and colors. It is taken or absorbed into the body by swallowing, snorting or injecting intravenously. Methamphetamine is called by many names, including crank, crystal, meth, speed, go-fast, go, crystal meth, zip, chris, cristy, or ice. Slang Names

Crystal Methamphetamine has experienced a revival on the black market as a replacement for cocaine or mixed with heroin.

It is similar to cocaine in its euphoric effects, but is longer lasting. Crystal is sold as a powder that's injected, inhaled or taken orally. It is popular among some users because it is readily available, of a purer quality, has longer-lasting effects, and is less expensive than cocaine or heroin on the streets. In the past few years, police have uncovered several major crystal methamphetamine labs in Indiana. "CRANK" is another name for methamphetamine.

"ICE" or "GLASS" is a concentrated form of methamphetamine that resembles tiny chunks of translucent glass. It is very potent crystal methamphetamine in a form that can be "smoked" rather than injected. Because the ice is vaporized and inhaled, and not actually burned, the term "smoking" is technically incorrect. As crack is to cocaine, ice is to methamphetamine. The intoxicating high may last from two to 20 hours, depending on how much is smoked. Because ice is odorless and has a colorless smoke, users of the drug may go virtually unnoticed. The use of ice in the United States began in Hawaii; however, its effects are being seen in California, and states such as Florida and Texas also have reported significant problems with the drug.

The physical effects of amphetamines are similar to those of other stimulant drugs. When amphetamines are taken by mouth, snorted or smoked, the user usually experiences feelings of euphoria, heightened alertness and greater energy. Heart, breathing and blood pressure rates increase, and sensations of hunger and fatigue are reduced. Heart palpitations may be experienced. The mouth is usually dry and swallowing is difficult, which makes eating food difficult. Urination is also difficult.

The users' pupils are dilated, and reflexes are faster. Rapid speech often occurs, followed by slurred speech. Extremely high doses may cause people to flush or become pale, and cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, loss of coordination and even physical collapse. Amphetamine injections create such an increase in blood pressure that strokes, high fevers or heart failure may result. As the drug wears off, feelings of fatigue or depression are experienced.

Amphetamines initially produce physical pleasure, so users easily are seduced into the repeated use of these drugs. Often users continually will take amphetamines to avoid the "down" mood they get when the drug wears off. Tissue tolerance develops quickly. It is not uncommon for some users to increase from 5 mg. to 1,000 mg. doses over a one-year period. "Speed freaks" are methamphetamine users who inject their drugs intravenously. Tissue tolerance develops very rapidly with them, as most methamphetamine users are compulsive/addictive users who cannot control their drug taking.

Long-term heavy use of amphetamines may lead to malnutrition, skin disorders, ulcers and diseases resulting from vitamin deficiencies. Regular use may contribute to lack of sleep and weight loss. Intravenous users are at risk for serious, life-threatening diseases such as AIDS, lung and heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

Frequent use of large amounts of amphetamines may eventually result in mental illness, suicide and violent death. Amphetamine-induced psychosis is a paranoid state that may develop after ingestion or the injection of large doses of amphetamines.

Amphetamine use increases self-confidence, which often ignores the reality of personal limitations. Amphetamine users may experience "Superman Syndrome," in which they attempt to perform tasks they are incapable of performing. In well-rested persons, certain physical performances can improve with small doses of stimulant drugs. In tired users, stimulants cause most performance to deteriorate. Users often take unnecessary risks; truck drivers and motorists who use amphetamines are more likely to have accidents. Postponement of sleep due to amphetamine use may result in slower reaction times and decreased watchfulness.

Copyright 1995, The Trustees of Indiana University.


Other Long-Term Methamphetamine Effects

  • hallucinations
  • disorganized lifestyle
  • violent and aggressive behavior
  • permanent psychological problems
  • behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia
  • poor coping abilities
  • disturbance of personality development
  • lowered resistance to illnesses
  • possible brain damage

Back to Crystal Meth & Methamphetamine Questions, Answers & Advice


THIS SITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your health care professional if you have a specific health concern.

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