Have you seen the before and after photos of people addicted to meth? They are very provocative and disturbing. However, I am fascinated by the physical transformation that takes place in only a few years of using this drug. Well, now you can see your own face on meth right here. By uploading a photo or engaging your webcam, the app decorates your face with sunken cheeks, mottled skin, blackened eyes, and facial sores. There’s nothing pretty about the results. It’s like OldBooth or FatBooth, only much, much worse.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant drug that dramatically affects the central nervous system. It is usually illegally produced and distributed.
Meth comes in several forms, including powder, crystal, rocks, and tablets. When it comes in the crystal form it is called “crystal meth.” Meth can be taken by swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting it with a hypodermic needle.
HOW IS METH MADE?
Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of store-bought chemicals.
The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. The ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include: ether, paint thinner, Freon®, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium (taken from inside batteries).
Meth is often manufactured or “cooked” in very crude laboratories. Many of these labs are not sophisticated operations and do not require sophisticated chemistry equipment. And the people who cook the meth usually do not have any chemistry training. Cooking meth is relatively simple, but highly dangerous and toxic.
There are two basic categories of meth labs:
Superlabs produce large quantities of meth and supply organized drug trafficking groups that sell the drug in communities across the U.S. Most of the larger labs are controlled by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating in the U.S. and Mexico. I’m thinking this is “Breaking Bad” style.
Small Toxic Labs produce smaller quantities of meth. These labs can be set up in homes, motel rooms, inside automobiles, and in parks or rural areas — really almost anywhere.
HOW DOES METH AFFECT A USER?
Using meth causes an increase in energy and alertness, a decrease in appetite, and an intense euphoric “rush.” That’s in the short-term.
With sustained use, a meth user can develop a tolerance to it. The user may take increasingly higher doses of meth trying to catch that high they first experienced. The user may take it more frequently or may go on binges. They may change the way they take meth. For example a user may start injecting it. Addiction is likely.
In the long-term, a person using meth may experience irritability, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, aggressive feelings, violent rages, cravings for more meth, and depression. They may become psychotic and experience paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions. The paranoia may lead to homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
A fairly common hallucination experienced by meth users is the so-called crank bug. The user gets the sensation that there are insects creeping on top of, or underneath, her skin. The user will pick at or scratch their skin trying to get rid of the imaginary bugs. This scratching can create open sores that may become infected.
Meth reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Meth users also consume excess sugared, carbonated soft drinks, tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench their jaws, leading to what is commonly called “meth mouth.” Teeth can eventually fall out of users’ mouths—even as they do simple things like eating a sandwich.
High doses of meth can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels. High doses can also cause convulsions. People can die as a result of using meth. Because meth is so addictive, the distance between the short and long-term effects may not be very long.
HOW DOES METH AFFECT EVERYONE ELSE?
As you can imagine, all those toxic chemicals used in the meth manufacturing process take a toll on the environment. Every pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste that may seep into the soil and groundwater.
The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes. These fumes can severely harm anyone exposed to them. Meth labs also generate highly explosive gases.
How is meth addiction treated?
Your best chance of success is to check into a 30-day drug treatment center. You will find it easier to go through amphetamine withdrawal in a hospital setting. It’s likely that you will experience strong drug cravings. It may also help if you have negative mood changes, including aggression and suicidal behavior.
During your stay you will receive individual counseling, family therapy, and group therapy. This helps you:
- resolve problems that led you to use drugs
- repair relationships with your family
- learn ways to avoid bad situations
- find new activities that you enjoy
- get support from others
- develop a relapse prevention plan