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Methamphetamine may be one of the most poorly understood drugs of abuse in the United States---possibly due to its entirely synthetic nature and its lower national profile compared to marijuana and cocaine. 

However, according to the White House Office of national Drug Control Policy---

  • Methamphetamine abuse can lead to psychotic behavior including intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can result in violent episodes.

  • Chronic users at times develop sores on their bodies from scratching at "crank bugs," which describes the common delusion that bugs are crawling under the skin.

  • Long-term use of methamphetamine may result in anxiety, insomnia, and addiction.

  • Even after methamphetamine use is stopped, several withdrawal symptoms can occur, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and an intense craving for the drug.

  • Psychotic symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after use has ceased.

  • Chronic methamphetamine abuse can result in inflammation of the heart lining and, for injecting drug users, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses.

  • Social and occupational connections progressively deteriorate for chronic methamphetamine users.

  • Acute lead poisoning is a potential risk for methamphetamine abusers because of a common method of production that uses lead acetate as a reagent.

  • Medical consequences of methamphetamine use can include cardiovascular problems such as rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and stroke---producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain.

  • Hyperthermia and convulsions can occur when a user overdoses and, if not treated immediately, can result in death.

  • Methamphetamine abuse, particularly by those who inject the drug and share needles, can increase users' risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.

  • Methamphetamine is easily produced in clandestine laboratories or "meth" labs using a variety of ingredients available in stores. The manufacturing of methamphetamine is known as "cooking."

  • Cooking a batch of meth can be very dangerous due to the fact that the chemicals used are volatile and the by-products are very toxic.

  • Meth labs present a danger to the meth cook, the community surrounding the lab, and the law enforcement personnel who discover the lab.

  • In addition to the dangerous nature of the methamphetamine production, the labs are often booby-trapped and workers are well armed.


Reprinted from the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, Tech Beat; Winter, 2006 Edition, Pg 9-10.

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More Information

For a comprehensive source of information about methamphetamine use and its physical and social consequences, visit MethResources.gov, a Web site sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.