Crystal methamphetamine is a psycho-stimulant drug that is illegal under United States law. It is a potent type of amphetamine that goes by the street names of crank, speed, crystal, meth or crystal meth. Crystal meth is a purified form of methamphetamine often manufactured in underground laboratories by users and dealers of the drug.
The immediate psycho-active effects of crystal meth on the brain and central nervous system are caused by increased levels of neurotransmitters. Neurons release extra dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine into the bloodstream resulting in feelings of increased energy, alertness and concentration. High doses put the user in a state of euphoria that often turns into anxiety or agitation. As the high wears off after 6 to 12 hours, exhaustion, mental fatigue and depression set in, sometimes with increased suicidal thoughts.
Chronic abuse of crystal meth produces an elevated and irregular heart rate with increased blood pressure. Long-term meth use contributes to an array of cardiovascular problems including inflammation of the heart's muscle lining and in increased danger of heart attacks. Hard-core users may be jittery, hyperactive, restless and experience tremors and shaky hands. The drug causes lung damage when smoked or deterioration of the nasal lining when snorted excessively.
There are many physical signs that someone is "tweaking" or using crystal meth. Grinding of the teeth and their subsequent decay are signals of meth use. Facial skin often breaks out in attacks of acne to form itchy, blotchy open sores. Users can compound the sores by obsessively picking at them. Meth users may go for several days without sleeping or eating, and can experience dramatic weight loss. Other signs are involuntary body movements and heavy sweating.
Some meth users become irrational and aggressive after consuming the drug. They may have auditory or visual hallucinations along with bouts of paranoia and delusional thinking. Sleep patterns change with increased symptoms of insomnia. Meth users often talk too fast, slurring their words together and not making sense. Withdrawal from chronic meth abuse causes troubling nightmares, irritability, confusion and panic attacks. Sometimes the meth addict lapses into a near psychotic mental state and suffers severe anergia or lack of energy during withdrawal.
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