Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine
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Newsfeed display by CaRP Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. Methamphetamine is chemically related to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater. Both drugs have some limited therapeutic uses, primarily in the treatment of obesity.

Methamphetamine is made in illegal laboratories and has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Street methamphetamine is referred to by many names, such as "speed," "meth," and "chalk." Methamphetamine hydrochloride, clear chunky crystals resembling ice, which can be inhaled by smoking, is referred to as "ice," "crystal," "glass," and "tina."

According to the 2003 NSDUH, 12.3 million Americans age 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes - 5.2 percent of the population, with the majority of past-year users between 18 and 34 years of age. Significant decreases in past year use were seen among 12- to 17-year-olds.

Methamphetamine releases high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. It also appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells that contain dopamine as well as serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Over time, methamphetamine appears to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.

Methamphetamine is taken orally or snorting the powder, by intravenous injection, and by smoking. Immediately after smoking or intravenous injection, the methamphetamine user experiences an intense sensation, called a “rush” or “flash,” that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Oral or intranasal use produces euphoria—a high, but not a rush. Users may become addicted quickly, and use it with increasing frequency and in increasing doses.

Animal research going back more than 20 years shows that high doses of methamphetamine damage neuron cell endings. Dopamine- and serotonin-containing neurons do not die after methamphetamine use, but their nerve endings or terminals are cut back, and regrowth appears to be limited.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Methamphetamine users feel a short yet intense rush when the drug is initially administered. The effects of methamphetamine include increased activity, decreased appetite, and a sense of well-being that can last from 20 minutes to 12 hours. The drug has limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity.

Methamphetamine can easily be manufactured in clandestine laboratories using store bought materials and is the most prevalent synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. The ease of manufacturing methamphetamine and its highly addictive potential has caused the use of the drug to increase throughout the Nation. The methamphetamine problem was originally concentrated in the West but has spread throughout almost every major metropolitan area in the U.S. with the exception of the Northeast.

The effects of methamphetamine use can include addiction, psychotic behavior, and brain damage. Methamphetamine is highly addictive and users trying to abstain from use may suffer withdrawal symptoms that include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and intense cravings for the drug. Chronic methamphetamine use can cause violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. Users can also exhibit psychotic behavior including auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, and paranoia, possibly resulting in homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Use of methamphetamine can cause damage to the brain that is detectable months after the use of the drug. The damage to the brain caused by methamphetamine use is similar to damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and epilepsy.

The central nervous system (CNS) actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia, and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Hyperthermia and convulsions can result in death.

Methamphetamine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Other effects of methamphetamine include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia. Its use can result in cardiovascular collapse and death.

Results reported at the most recent CEWG meetings indicate that methamphetamine abuse and production continue at high levels in Hawaii, west coast areas, and some southwestern areas of the United States—but methamphetamine abuse also is continuing to spread eastward.

The percentage of adult male arrestees testing methamphetamine-positive in 2003 was highest in Honolulu (40.3 percent), Phoenix (38.3) San Diego (36.2), and Los Angeles (28.7).

Several other items of significance were reported, as follows:
The numbers of clandestine methamphetamine laboratory incidents reported to the National Clandestine Laboratory Database decreased from 1999 to 2004. During this same period, methamphetamine lab incidents increased in Midwestern States (Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio), and in Pennsylvania. In 2004, more lab incidents were reported in Illinois (926) than in California (673). In 2003, methamphetamine lab incidents reached new highs in Georgia (250), Minnesota (309), and Texas (677). There were only seven methamphetamine lab incidents reported in Hawaii in 2004.

In the first 6 months of 2004, nearly 59 percent of substance abuse treatment admissions (excluding alcohol) in Hawaii were for primary methamphetamine abuse. San Diego followed, with nearly 51 percent. Notable increases in methamphetamine treatment admissions occurred in Atlanta (10.6 percent in the first 6 months of 2004, as compared with 2.5 percent in 2001) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (18.7 percent in the first 6 months of 2004, as compared with 10.6 percent in 2001).

Some MDMA (ecstasy) and cocaine users are switching to methamphetamine, ignorant of its severe toxicity.

In many gay clubs found throughout New York City and elsewhere, methamphetamine is often used in an injectable form, placing users and their partners at risk for transmission of HIV, hepatitis C, and other STDs.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Methamphetamine users feel a short yet intense "rush" when the drug is initially administered. The effects of methamphetamine include increased activity, decreased appetite, and a sense of well-being that can last from 20 minutes to 12 hours. The drug has limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity.

Methamphetamine can easily be manufactured in clandestine laboratories using store bought materials and is the most prevalent synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. The ease of manufacturing methamphetamine and its highly addictive potential has caused the use of the drug to increase throughout the Nation. The methamphetamine problem was originally concentrated in the West but has spread throughout almost every major metropolitan area in the U.S. with the exception of the Northeast.

Decreased domestic methamphetamine production is reducing wholesale supplies of domestically produced methamphetamine. The decreased production is a result of law enforcement pressure, public awareness campaigns, and increased regulation of the sale and use of precursor and essential chemicals used in methamphetamine production. However, decreases in domestic methamphetamine production have been offset by increased production in Mexico.

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

The Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system collects and analyzes data about the public health consequences (e.g., morbidity, mortality, and evacuations) of acute hazardous substance—release events. Of the 40,349 events reported to the HSEES system during January 1, 2000—June 30, 2004, a total of 1,791 (4%) were associated with illicit meth production. Meth events consistently had a higher percentage of persons with injuries than did nonmeth events. Of the 1,791 meth events, 558 (31%) resulted in a total of 947 injured persons.

The methamphetamine trafficking situation has significantly changed within the last decade in the United States. Outlaw motorcycle gangs and other independent laboratory operators were once the primary traffickers of methamphetamine in the United States. However, Mexico-based trafficking groups entered the illicit methamphetamine market in 1994 and now dominate the trade leaving motorcycle gangs with a small share of the market. Mexico based trafficking groups dominate the market for many reasons, including their ability to obtain large quantities of the chemicals needed to produce the drug, their access to established smuggling and distribution networks, and their control over "super labs" which are capable of producing in excess of 10 pounds of methamphetamine in one 24-hour production cycle.

Law enforcement reporting indicates that methamphetamine laboratories have been discovered on federal lands throughout the United States. Methamphetamine laboratories often are discovered in or near caves, cabins, recreational areas, abandoned mines, and private vehicles located on or adjacent to federal lands.

Increased restrictions on cold preparations and other medicines containing methamphetamine precursor chemicals in many states have contributed to sharp declines in the number of labs in those states. Additionally, restricted importation of bulk pseudoephedrine from Canada since January 2003 has resulted in significant declines in the number of domestic methamphetamine super labs.
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Submitted: 08/02/06

Description: Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. Methamphetamine is chemically related to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater. Both drugs have some limited therapeutic uses, primarily in the treatment of obesity.

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