Methamphetamine

Once popular in the 1960s for its stimulant effects, methamphetamine use began resurfacing in the mid-1990s to the point it became considered a serious threat among the general public. It is very addictive in its nature, giving users an immediate rush or high, and is thought to enhance mood and cause feelings of euphoria, well-being, and decreased appetite. These effects are known to increase with use of alcohol or other drugs.

With the easy availability of ingredients for its manufacture and profits from its sale, clandestine laboratories have appeared in many U.S. states not known for substance abuse problems. Methamphetamine labs are the most commonly encountered illegal laboratories in the United States. Their widespread presence has resulted in increased access and availability of the drug. Methamphetamine, or 'meth' as it is commonly referred to, is known by several street names, including ice, crank, speed, chalk, poor man's cocaine, and biker's coffee.

Abuse

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), lifetime methamphetamine use among the general public aged 18-25 has modestly declined since 2000, with approximately 5 percent of this population reporting having ever used the drug. Monitoring the Future reports a similar trend in both the college-attending and noncollege-attending age group of young adults, with about a 1 percent rate of annual prevalence among students compared with about 5 percent for young adults not in college. Lifetime prevalence of methamphetamine use has declined in the college population from a peak in excess of 7 percent in 1999 to less than 3 percent in 2006.

Methamphetamine can be snorted, smoked, injected, or ingested orally. In addition to experiencing feelings of well-being, users may be prone to violent outbursts and behavior. Many users may go on drug 'binges' for several days, repeatedly ingesting meth in order to maintain their high.

Consequences

Methamphetamine is widely considered a highly addictive substance, leading quickly to chronic use and increased tolerance over time. In the short term, methamphetamine users may experience dangerously elevated body temperatures and a risk of overdose. Users who inject the drug also expose themselves to the risk of diseases that include hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Long-term use can lead to feelings of anxiety, mood disturbances, insomnia, violent behavior, homicidal and suicidal thoughts, and permanent brain damage. Some users have psychotic symptoms lasting for months or years, including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Chronic methamphetamine users who quit using may experience serious withdrawal symptoms ranging from fatigue and depression to feelings of anxiety, aggression, paranoia, and intense cravings.

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