crystal
Methamphetamine (speed, crystal, crystal meth, tina, krank, tweak, ice...)

Here is a great resource to start learning about Crystal Meth: CrystalNeon.org

WHAT IS CRYSTAL?
Chemical name: Methamphetamine sulphate.

Amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and their various salts are collectively referred to as amphetamines. In fact, their chemical properties and actions are so similar that even experienced users have difficulty knowing which drug they have taken. Methamphetamine seems to be the most commonly used term and chemical, and the most common term we've heard for methamphetamine is "crystal meth" or just "crystal". In the following discussion, we use the term "crystal meth". This is for convenience; keep in mind that the drug in your hand could be any number of substances classified as amphetamines. All are slightly different and it is difficult to know how you might react to them.

Legitimate use:
Methamphetamine, a derivative of amphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system (your brain). It has clinically accepted applications in the treatment of narcolepsy, weight control, and attention deficit disorder (Anglin et al. 2000, Halkitis et al. 2001). As a prescription drug, methamphetamine is currently sold under the name Desoxyn. Prior to the early 60's methamphetamine was sold under the pharmaceutical brand name Methedrine by Burroughs-Wellcome Pharmaceuticals-it has, as far as we can figure, since been removed from the market.

How is it typically consumed/used?
Methods of consuming crystal meth run the gamut-it can be snorted in small bumps or lines, smoked, ingested orally, taken rectally, or injected.

Street names
Crystal meth, crystal, crystal meth, speed, tina, poor man's cocaine, ice, glass, chalk, krank (crank), tweak, fire, or glass.

What does it look like?
Methamphetamine usually appears as odourless, bitter-tasting powder, which easily dissolves in liquids. It comes in a range of colours: from white to yellow to darker colours like red or brown. The powdered form usually resembles granulated crystals. Methamphetamine also comes in a crystallized form-with a slightly different molecular composition-known as "crystal methamphetamine" or "ice". Those who choose to smoke methamphetamine prefer crystal methamphetamine.

What can it be cut with?
Like any street drug, crystal crystal meth can be cut with anything-from baking power, chalk, or talc, to other drugs.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

Methamphetamine acts by causing a massive release of excitatory neurotransmitters within the brain, primarily dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. This release causes the intense rush and feeling of being high. High dopamine levels in the brain create a pleasurable sensation. Too much dopamine, however, can cause psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices or paranoia. If dopamine stores are depleted then tremors or rigidity might result. High levels of serotonin heighten mood and emotional responses - particularly sex drive. Low levels can cause depression. High levels of norepinephrine result in increased alertness and concentration, as well as peripheral effects such as dilated pupils, increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Amphetamines are potent stimulants with disinhibitory qualities. The anticipated sensations after taking methamphetamine are euphoria, increased alertness, and sense of energy. Users describe a giddy wakefulness and a sense of well-being. You might find you have a boost in your self-esteem and self-confidence and feel more aggressive and confident. Common side effects are perspiration, chills, dry mouth, and loss of appetite. Crystal meth also often creates a very heightened sex-drive-users report feeling horny as hell and that their sexual inhibitions and limits are seriously curtailed. This, in combination with increased self-confidence and aggressiveness, may lead users to engaging in kinds of sex that are a bit beyond what they might normally do. At the same time, it leads to what most call "crystal dick"-an inability to maintain a hard-on or an inability to experience orgasm (go figure).

How long will the effects last?
Onset time is quickest with smoking or injecting - effects will be experienced in less than 30 seconds. Unless injected intra-muscularly (not encouraged as IM injection of vasoconstricting substances, like crystal meth, causes muscle necrosis), effects will take about 5 minutes. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes. Ingesting crystal meth produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes. The effects can last 12 to 16 hours, but some users report effects for as long as 36 hours.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?


In our opinion, crystal is probably one of the most potentially harmful and dangerous street drugs you'll find on this site. It creates the most problems for users, the risks are particularly complex, and by all accounts it is extremely addictive. Those addicted to crystal meth face significant health problems, ruined relationships, financial problems, and lost employment-problems that, overall, don't seem to be as pronounced with the regular use of other drugs. This is not to suggest that other drugs are not addictive or that they do not create problems if abused-this is merely to point out that crystal meth addiction and abuse has particularly pronounced social harms associated with it. Consequently, there is a fair amount of stigma around crystal meth use and crystal meth users. In practical terms, this means that you might end up reducing the number resources-friendships, relationships-who can act with you as part of your harm reduction strategies. If you are going to use this drug, please take some time to think carefully about how you will use it. We recommend being conscious and deliberate in your approach; an approach that is not well thought out is probably the first step to addiction and will certainly place you at greater risk of harm.

What are the short-term risks?
Some of the risks associated with crystal meth use have to do with the way you consume the drug. Snorting any drug can damage the membranes and tissues inside your nose. Sharing bullets or doing a rail from a shared rolled dollar bill or straw can put you at risk of contracting viral hepatitis-and damaged nasal tissues are likely to increase any chance of transmission. Smoking crystal meth can burn the tissue lining your mouth, throat, and lungs. Injecting it can be painful, lead to problems with your veins, and infection-not to mention the risk of HIV and hepatitis B and C. If you inject your crystal, be sure your rigs are clean. There is also a higher chance of overdosing if you inject. Hooping crystal (taking it up your ass) can lead to tissue damage, placing you at increased risk for contracting HIV and other STIs if sex is part of your crystal meth use. Other short-term effects and dangers include irregular heartbeats, chest pain, and shortness of breath, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, shaking, nausea and vomiting. The drug can also increase body temperature to critical levels.

What are the long-term risks?
Crystal meth can keep you awake for days. Depriving your body of sleep exacerbates the chemical impact of the drug on your brain and can lead to serious emotional crashes afterwards. After using crystal it is common to be depressed, experience low-energy, anxiety, and paranoid thoughts. Try to keep this in perspective, get some rest, and eat well. You might not be able to sleep, but try to rest if you can.

Prolonged use of methamphetamine can damage the central nervous system (i.e. your brain) and the cardiovascular system. Over stimulation of neurotransmitter receptors may lead to irritability, insomnia, aggressiveness, and anxiety. Some users develop paranoia or hallucinations. Long-term crystal use may actually change the chemistry of your brain, leading to a depletion or a change in the distribution of the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. This depletion is part of the mechanism that causes addiction-and methamphetamine is highly addictive-more so than any of the other drugs you'll find on this website. This results in depressed mood, flattened emotions and social withdrawal. In practical terms, long-term crystal meth use tends to lead to a withdrawal from those around you. In light of the stigma around crystal meth and crystal meth users, these effects are particularly problematic-they push you further away from actually engaging with others who may be part of your harm reduction strategies or who may be able to give you direction in the case of addiction. Damage to your cardiovascular system means the possibility of stroke, heart attack, and damage to blood vessels.

WHAT ARE THE HARM REDUCTION TECHNIQUES FOR THIS DRUG?

Whenever you're taking drugs, it's always sensible to start with a little and take more only if you need it - remember, some drugs sneak up on you. Treat crystal meth like you would any extremely dangerous, highly addictive substance - with a great deal of fear and respect.

Before you use crystal meth, get in a good meal, be well rested, and keep hydrated, particularly if you are dancing. Don't do this stuff on an empty stomach-it's likely you won't want to eat while high and you'll need the energy and nutrients. Avoid caffeine and booze-they will only dehydrate you.

Plan your comedown. Be sure your fridge has nutritious food in it and be sure to have everything you need for sex handy. If you absolutely can't eat, consider stocking up on sport drinks or meal replacement drinks. Remember to brush your teeth-crystal meth seriously reduces the flow of blood to your gums. For regular users over the long term, this can lead to serious tooth decay.

Consider taking crystal meth orally-it is the least damaging route. Your stomach is a bit stronger than your lungs, veins, or nose. Drink plenty of water and take an antacid. It'll help with an upset stomach.

If you snort crystal meth, crush it as finely as you can. This will help reduce the amount of damage you may cause to your nasal passages. If your nose gets irritated, switch to swallowing it for a while. Wait for your nose to heal.

If you snort crystal meth, consider using a bullet or a bumper-this way you'll have better control over your dose. At the very least, if you use the same bullet or bumper, you'll be familiar with how high you'll be or have a better handle on your dosage. And remember sharing bullets or bumpers places you at increased risk of contracting hepatitis.

If using crystal meth means having sex, we really recommend having a look at some of the stuff from www.crystalneon.org-you'll find some very good resources and ideas there.

If you are using any other drugs while using crystal meth, consider reducing the amount of one of the drugs. Mixing any drugs, recreational or prescription, can kill you.

What are the contraindications? What drugs shouldn't I mix with this drug?
Do you have heart problems or are you on any kind of heart medication? Methamphetamine increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and rate of breathing-remember it's a stimulant-reduce your dose of crystal meth or don't use it at all if you have heart, stroke or blood pressure problems. Switch to another drug altogether. If you are taking any sort of high blood pressure or heart medication strongly consider not using crystal meth.

  • Are you on anti-depressants? Most anti-depressant medications work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitters serotonin or norepinephrine available in the brain thereby improving mood. Remember methamphetamine release massive amounts of these same neurotransmitters.
  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Luvox (fluvoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) and Celexa (citalopram) when used with methamphetamine can result in serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal syndrome of hyperthermia, confusion, muscle twitching and diarrhea. Newer anti-depressant such as Effexor (venlafaxine) and Wellbutrin (buproprion) combined with methaphetamine may have similar risks.
    Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Nardil (phenelzine), Parnate (tranylcypromine), Marplan (isocarboxazid), Eldepryl (l-deprenyl), and Aurorex or Manerix (moclobemide) are a particularly dangerous combination. These medications inhibit an enzyme your body produces to breakdown neurotransmitters. Using methamphetamine while on MAOIs leads to very high neurotranmitter levels potentially resulting in severe life-threatening hypertension.
  • Trying to quite smoking with Zyban? Zyban and Wellbutrin are the same thing-both are buproprion. Use the same sort of caution with Zyban that you would while taking an anti-depressant. Better yet-skip the crystal and wait until the end of your prescription. You probably started taking Zyban to help increase your quality of life. There's no use spending the money and effort on quitting your nicotine habit only to find yourself in a seizure.
  • Tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs) such as Elavil (amitriptyline), Tofranil (imipramine), Aventyl (nortriptyline), Desyrel (trazodone) and Serzone (nefazodone) taken in combination with methamphetamine can also result in hypertension.
  • In practical terms, this means that if you are on an anti-depressant you should consider not taking crystal meth at all. If getting high is important, then either think about reducing your dose of crytal meth substantially or switching to a different drug altogether. If you are taking anti-depressants and are not sure what type they are ask your doctor or pharmacist.

For those who are taking protease inhibitors, please be aware that the effect of crystal meth can be two to three times greater (Halkitis 2001). Protease inhibitors stop the body from producing certain enzymes from operating as they normally do. Without these enzymes, your liver is limited in terms of how it metabolizes what you eat or drink-and what snort, swallow, or inject. This means the effects of any drug in your body could be both stronger than normal and last longer than normal. See our section on HIV meds for more information. In practical terms, this means that you might want to consider reducing your crystal meth dose while taking protease inhibitors. We do not recommend, in any way, that you stop taking your HIV meds.

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