Crystal “meth” is spreading throughout society at an alarming rate. What is this drug, and what are its effects?
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Crystal “meth” is so powerful that it can immediately transform casual users into out-of-control junkies. Once a person is seduced by this drug, the end result is that lives are destroyed—often including those of innocent family members.
Use of crystal methamphetamine is widespread—affecting all strata of society, young and old, rich and poor. Newsweek reports: “[Meth] is hooking more and more people across the socioeconomic spectrum: soccer moms in Illinois, computer geeks in Silicon Valley, factory workers in Georgia, gay professionals in New York. The drug is making its way into suburbs from San Francisco to Chicago to Philadelphia” (“America’s Most Dangerous Drug,” Aug. 8, 2005).
Deputy District Attorney Mark McDonnell, head of narcotics in Portland, Oregon, said that Crystal meth “is an epidemic and a crisis unprecedented.” U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales added, “In terms of damage to children and to our society, meth is now the most dangerous drug in America” (Ibid).
This drug is spreading quickly for a number of reasons. First, it is highly addictive; but second, and more dangerously, it is inexpensive and relatively easy to make. It has already earned the nickname “poor man’s cocaine.”
Crystal meth is changing neighborhoods, as production labs pop-up throughout rural America. Since the resources needed to produce this destructive drug are basic, over-the-counter materials, interested parties are able to make it in the confines of their homes. A simple Internet search provides all the details and directions needed to produce it.
The result of these makeshift labs is that houses and living quarters become extremely toxic, and remain contaminated for years. The next homeowner, not realizing that his new home was a drug lab, can experience many detrimental health effects—including heart attacks and breathing problems. These homes become their new owners’ worst nightmare.
Ultimately, this chemical is destroying lives across a vast spectrum.
Just how widespread is the use of crystal meth? Studies show that 12 million Americans have tried the drug, with 1.5 million described as regular users. In other words, as many as 1.5 million people are currently in the process of destroying their lives, as well as the lives of their family and those around them, and 12 million are teetering on the edge of disaster.
In 2004, more than 6% of high school seniors reported using this drug. This means that 1 in 20 high school students have used a drug that is truly not “child’s play.”
Crystal meth is not a new drug. Having derived from a medicinal use, it has existed for some time. But techniques to manufacture it have evolved and created a much more potent version—and much greater danger for the user.
In contrast, the purity of crystal meth has actually decreased, from 71.9% in 1994 to 40.1% in 2001. This means that, in addition to the addictive qualities and resulting health risks, there are even more harmful and toxic materials in the drug that can affect the user’s body.
Before the user fully realizes it, he has already become addicted to the drug. The “before and after” pictures of addicted meth users are shocking! One cannot imagine how deplorable a human being can become—and how quickly.
Yet, despite the ravaging effects on the user’s own health and body, one of the worst tragedies is the resulting effect on the children related to the user.
As mentioned in the inset of this article, the drug takes over a user’s life. Everything else becomes second in importance. Users often go on binges for days—even weeks—after which they crash from their high and leave their children to fend for themselves. And, since the users often go to prison, their children are abandoned to foster care.
Crystal meth is a drug that strongly reacts with the brain, and is more potent than other stimulants such as cocaine.
A chemical reaction releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which stimulates brain cells and creates improved moods. Since the amount of dopamine released is far higher than what naturally occurs in the human body, eventually these brain cells wear out, and dopamine levels actually decrease below normal levels. This causes the user to become unhappy and depressed—the opposite of the artificial high from using crystal meth. As a result, the user needs more and more of the drug to retain the desired effect. When taking it, users experience a sense of great euphoria. The rush from this drug is intense and almost immediate, depending on how it is consumed.
The stories from those who have been addicted to this drug are shocking. Users lose everything for a quick high. Consider some statements from a user of meth published in the Itawamba County Times. (Emphasis ours.)
• “It was there that I first tried meth and instantly became addicted to it…Your mind is rushing so fast that it never takes time to think of any problems that you have or that [meth] may be causing in your life.”
• “After you have crossed the line of user to addict, everything changes. You begin to build your whole life around the drug because if you run out of the drug your life pretty much stops. You can’t get out of bed without it, so the drug comes first. Family and friends become second. Friends who didn’t use meth don’t see you much anymore. When you are around your family, you’re either in bed or peeled out on dope. To the user of meth, the drug becomes his or her god.”
• “When I first started meth, I weighed 275 pounds. Four months later I weighed 190 pounds. Meth users’ teeth actually rot. Some users pick at themselves causing scars all over their arms and face.
• “The public needs to know that meth is an epidemic. Every user is going to turn others on to it. Every cook is going to teach others. It is an addiction physically and mentally. The public cannot look the other way and expect it to go away.”
• “The drug is evil. It will try to steal, kill and destroy your life. Crystal meth is not satisfied until she has taken it all from you—family, friends, job, finances and finally your freedom or your life. There is no upside to the end of crystal meth.”
• “My use and addiction has hurt everyone around me, especially my 5-year-old son. He doesn’t understand why daddy can’t come home. My wife is struggling to keep the bills paid. It has torn my family apart."
Other “wanted” effects are increased alertness and physical activity, decreased appetite and increased respiration. (Incredibly, small doses have previously been used as treatment for conditions such as obesity.) People often begin to use crystal meth simply as a means to stay awake—but before long, they want to use it all the time.
The drug can be taken in many ways: oral, nasal, injection or smoking. And it has many different names; the most common are speed, meth, ice and glass. Others include blade, chalk, crystal glass, hot ice, L.A. glass, L.A. ice, shards, stove top, super ice and Tina.
The long-term effects are terrifying. Those who become fully addicted exhibit violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, among many other psychological problems. Brain and heart damage can occur. In a very short time, users become paranoid, disturbed, delusional and often experience hallucinations.
Just how severe can the effects become? Consider this fact: “Chronic methamphetamine abuse can lead to psychotic behavior including intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can result in violent episodes. Chronic users at times develop sores on their bodies from scratching at ‘crank bugs,’ which describes the common delusion that bugs are crawling under the skin” (whitehousedrugpolicy.gov).
Oftentimes, users lose all control: “Some users, while refraining from eating and sleeping, will binge, also known as a ‘run’ on methamphetamine. During these binges, users will inject as much as a gram of methamphetamine every 2 to 3 hours over several days until they run out of the drug or are too dazed to continue use” (Ibid.).
This drug can trap the user in a death-grip.
Why would people hand themselves over to such a drug? Is the high really worth it? Why are they not able to see that this drug can and will destroy their lives?
Look at the world around you. Drug abuse, promiscuous sex, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, sexually-transmitted diseases and violence are now common. An entire generation has grown up in a society that looks for every possible pleasing, stimulating sensation. They seek to appeal to their senses—touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell—in any way possible. All they do must be “approved” by their senses.
Society is obsessed with feeling good. It has been conditioned to seek comfort and pleasure. But the world refuses to face the tragic truth about crystal meth. They do not want to hear the true answer!
The search for euphoria is destroying society. Many are helplessly seeking an escape from the pain and suffering of their lives, and fall victim to the allure of drugs. Some claim that they use drugs because there is nothing else in life that gives them the same feelings. “Give me the hope of something better and I’ll quit,” they might say.
Without a goal in life—a purpose—all the money, police forces and drug rehabilitation programs available will not end this problem. But what solution can there be for the drug user? What can possibly replace these euphoric experiences?
The true answer is the soon-coming kingdom and government of God!
People and nations will not accept this answer and will try to find another solution—but they will find none. There is no other!
The Bible describes the soon-coming kingdom of God. By himself, man cannot solve the problems he has created. The vicious cycle of drugs will be broken, and there will be TRUE happiness, peace, love and joy.
In this wonderful future world, people will be truly happy—without drugs. People will live in true euphoria—and in a real utopia. Under God’s rule, there will be real solutions for mankind’s real problems. God’s Way deals with, and will destroy, the cause of drug abuse, and not just the effects.
Unhappiness and misery will no longer exist. Any desire for escapism—the root of drug abuse—will cease. When Christ establishes His kingdom, He will heal all the damage that drugs have inflicted on people’s bodies and minds, and will heal all forms of physical and psychological dependence.
While mankind is helpless in finding a solution to the drug problem, God’s kingdom will truly end the tragedy of drug abuse!
(Of course, individuals can always choose to change and overcome in this life. To learn more, read our article “You Can Overcome and Prevent Sin.”)