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
Methamphetamine abuse can
lead to psychotic behavior including intense paranoia, visual and auditory
hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can result in violent
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
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
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.
For a comprehensive source of information about methamphetamine use
and its physical and social consequences, visit
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.