Crystal Meth: Drug of Death
Popularity of TV programs like Breaking Bad or the film Half Nelson have spotlighted the rise of crystal methamphetamine use. First discovered in 1919, use of crystal meth in the US has risen since new methods of synthesis emerged in the 1990s. The availability of allergy and cold medicines using the drug pseudoephedrine helped meth labs spring up across the country, often with deadly results.
Crystal meth works by stimulating the brain, causing a general feeling of euphoria. The increased stimulation suppresses appetite and creates an energy burst. Said effects have popularized meth as a weight loss drug or method of staying away for long hours. It can also cause increased sexual arousal, which has led the drug to become associated with risky sex parties. Users will often have numerous sexual partners, which can lead to the spread of disease. Some evidence has further linked meth use to so-called HIV super infection, a strain of the virus resistant to modern treatment.
Meth Use on the Rise
Once only popular in urban areas, use and cooking of crystal meth has exploded within rural areas. One reason: the availability of ammonium nitrate, commonly used as a crop fertilizer. Mixing of ammonium nitrate, pseudoephedrine and components from lithium batteries can synthesize the drug. The easy of availability of these chemicals has lead many amateur users to try to synthesize it, despite the high risks. Besides the lethal potential of consuming the drug, cooking it in an unsafe environment or by using household materials can cause fire or explosion.
Even if a batch of meth is cooked correctly, the drug remains dangerous. Users of meth often show signs of extreme aging, abscesses, scarring and tooth rot, often referred to as meth mouth. Frequent use of the drug can also lead to psychosis, with users often reporting hallucinations. These effects are swift and extreme, and can begin to manifest after even a few uses.
For all the toxic effects, use of crystal methamphetamine remains popular in both city and country areas. The ease of access to components has led to amateur labs with potential for danger as great as the drug itself. For those who use, consequences are heavy, and the need for treatment becomes even more imperative.