Crystal meth – short for crystal methamphetamine – is one of several forms of the drug methamphetamine, a highly addictive synthetic stimulant known for its extreme affect upon the pleasure center of the brain. Crystal meth (also known as ice, meth, crystal, and other names) is one of the most highly addictive psychoactive drugs known today.

Methamphetamine is a clearish to white (sometimes bluish) crystalline drug ingested in various ways including snorting (insufflation, or inhaling through the nose), smoking, or IV (intravenously, or injection with a syringehypodermic needle).

Methamphetamine acts on the brain by increasing the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to euphoria followed by a crash, otherwise known as coming down. Users typically develop a powerful desire to continue using crystal meth because the drug creates a strong (albeit false) sense of well-being, elation, and a rush of energy. As is the case with many other stimulants, the meth user also experiences decreased appetite. The effects of methamphetamine generally last from six to eight hours, but can sometimes last up to 24 hours. The crash that occurs after being high on crystal meth is so severe and unpleasant that users often ingest yet more of the drug, a quality shared by crack cocaine. After a time, meth users are known to have difficulty achieving any feelings of pleasure at all.

Abusers of methamphetamine typically suffer devastating consequences physically, psychologically, and socially. The wide-ranging adverse health effects of crystal meth include memory loss, anorexia, malnutrition, aggression, psychosis/psychotic behavior, heart damage, insomnia, and chronic dental problems thought to be caused primarily by xerostomia (dry mouth) and bruxism (grinding teeth).

Signs of Methamphetamine Dependence

  • Borrowing money often, selling possessions, stealing
  • Deteriorating physical appearance
  • Evident oral hygiene problems: decaying teeth, tooth loss
  • Decreased appetite, weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Picking at skin, hair
  • Burn marks on fingers or mouth
  • Engaging in repetitive, meaningless tasks
  • Odd sleeping patterns
  • Psychotic behavior characterized by paranoiahallucinations
  • Mood swings, attitude changes
  • Incessant talking
  • Excessive sweating for no apparent reason
  • Erratic movements, exaggerated mannerisms, facial tics
  • Foul body odor, an ammonia smell

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms: Physical & Psychological

Resources: Methamphetamine Addiction

Side effects of methamphetamine addiction

Crystal Meth in the News