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Methamphetamine

Energy: it's a hot commodity these days. Especially in our late night dance culture, it is highly valued and essential to our ways of life. We are drawn to sources of energy both internal and external. Seeking energy through external means, is a timeless aspect of human behaviour that extends throughout history and across almost every culture. We are not the first and we will not be the last culture to use stimulants. Crystal Meth (aka. crystal, ice, crank, speed, ice (insert your favourite term here) is a crystalized methamphetamine that, like cocaine, is a psychostimulant. Amphetamines and methamphetamines increase the amount of at least three neurotransmitters (brain chemicals): norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. As a result, methamphetamine can elevate your mood, induce euphoria, increase alertness, reduce fatigue, increase energy, decrease appetite, increase movement and speech, and provide a sense of personal power and prowess. This is the high where you really feel at the center of the party. Unlike the brief coke high, meth lasts for 6-8 hours or more depending on how much you do. Crystal, like any speedy drug, acts like adrenaline in the body, affecting the brain, heart, lungs and other organs. Your body reacts with a 'fight or flight' response, which is the survival instinct that causes most of your energy to go toward breathing and heart rate because those are the most crucial to survival.

Other speedy substances include:

Ice/glass - dextromethamphetamine, a slightly different chemical than meth that is in a smokable freebase form and produces a much stronger high. Like crack cocaine, it comes in larger crystals or rocks. It's effects are as intense as crack but lasts much longer (oh yea and its highly addictive)

Base - larger crystals are sometimes available and used mainly for cooking up and injecting. And then there's base: an off-white/brown/pink gritty paste (usually much purer than the powder because the texture makes it too difficult to mix with anything else)

History
Amphetamines were synthesized by the German pharmacologist L. Edeleano in 1887. The related compound methamphetamine (crystal)was synthesized in 1919. Amphetamines, including methamphetamines, are currently the most widely used synthetic drug in the U.S. In 1927, British chemist Gordon Alles discovered the stimulating effects of these drugs and realized their potential for increasing alertness, alleviating fatigue, and creating euphoria (the result of their ability to mimic adrenaline and its well-known 'fight or flight' property. In 1932, a U.S. pharmaceutical company bought the patent to the Alles discovery, and marketed it in an inhaler as a nasal decongestant, Benzedrine.

During the second world war, amphetamines were sanctioned by a number of governments including Germany, the United States, and Japan for their energizing and anti-depressant properties. It is estimated that millions of Japanese soldiers, defense workers and civilians used amphetamines and that by the end of the war, at least 2% of the adult population were dependent on the drug.

In the U.S., post-war studies of American military prisoners revealed that a notable number of American military prisoners reported using amphetamine inhalers. In 1959, the first use in the U.S. of intravenous injection of the contents of a Benzedrine inhaler for non-medicinal purposes was reported; in 1971, the last non-prescription inhaler was removed from the U.S. market pursuant to the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In North America there have been three distinct waves of meth use: in the 1980's, the late 1960's and the mid 1990's (continuing through to today).

Short term effects appear soon after you take it and disappear within a few hours or days

At low (moderate or therapeutic doses): such as the doses prescribed medically for attention disorders and narcolepsy (spontaneous sleep attacks). After a cap or a fat line you may feel:

  • Effects last roughly 3-4 hours
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate, but usually longer, deeper breathing
  • Higher blood pressure, pulse rate and blood sugar (if you're diabetic, take extra precautions)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slight dilation of some blood vessels and constriction of others

At larger recreational doses: after a couple caps of crystal, you may get pretty worked up about things. Or just dance your ass off. It can be more of a head trip too, as opposed to the body buzz of smaller doses. Experiences range from feelings of well-being to a sense of power and superiority, to bizarre repetitive behaviour, including:

  • Large increase in alertness and energy
  • Fever
  • Talkativeness, restlessness and excitability
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness

Along with the speeding up of physical functions, crystal increases alertness and stimulates the nervous system. This means that you may feel an amplified sensory awareness of your environment. Sounds may be crisper, vision stronger and response time quicker. In other words, you may be anywhere from on the ball to over and above it! If you're doing larger doses (which also varies depending on your body and tolerance), expect to experience some of the effects mentioned above.

At even higher doses (more than a couple caps) many of the effects are amplified however you may not feel the sense of power or well-being or alertness that you felt with a smaller dose. Things are usually pretty intense by now and it can be overwhelming in the form of restlessness, anxiety or fear. All of a sudden you may not be so talkative anymore (on the other hand you may get all motormouth on whoever happens to be in the general area!) cause the nervous system has been way overstimulated and you're trying to take everything in and make sense of it all. The experience may include:

  • Flushed skin (turning a reddish tint)
  • Pallor
  • Serious insomnia
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Collapse
  • Aggression/hostility
  • Hyperactivity

Higher and higher still after a few days of using crystal, the undesired, unexpected (depending on how seasoned a user you are) and unpleasant symptoms get stronger (especially if you're increasing the dose as you go along). In other words speed parties/binges usually end up something like this:

  • Confused and disorganized patterns of thought and behaviour
  • Compulsive repetition of meaningless acts (at least that's how it looks to others around you!)
  • Self-conscious, suspicious, afraid, and having hallucinations or delusions (see crystal psychosis)
  • Anti-social or aggressive behaviour
  • Chest pains (the heart's been working overtime), abdominal pains (chances are you haven't taken a pee in a while cause speed can cause you to pee less)
  • Fainting or dizziness, overheating and dehydration
  • Extreme tiredness

    Methods of Consumption
    Injecting/shooting
    This is the quickest way to get a drug into your system. The high is intense and short, so be prepared. Have lots of new rigs and works close by so you can use a new needle every time you inject. Don't share needles. Visit your local needle exchange, they can hook you up with supplies and show you what safer injection is all about. If you don't know where to go for clean works, rigs and info, contact us (our info is on the back page).

    Smoking will get you high immediately cause the drug gets absorbed through the sensitive lung tissue and carried into the bloodstream. It produces an intense buzz that is similar to a crack high. Its really harsh on your lungs and you may get a nasty cough and a hoarse voice if you're smoking crystal regularly. Try to avoid smoking off of pop cans cause the aluminum is very toxic when heated up.

    Snorting/railing will get you high within about 5-15 minutes and the high is short and intense. Your nostrils might burn (a splash of water up the nose after snorting can help) and your eyes might water. A few minutes after snorting you might get 'the drips': that dreaded chemical flavour in the back of your throat is remnants of the meth that didn't make the journey up your nose and instead dripped down into your mouth. It can make you shiver�have some water close by!

    Rectal (up your butt) or vaginal (up your vag) get you high in about 20-30 minutes because it doesn't have to go through your digestive system but gets absorbed through the tissues of your colon (its just above your anus)

    Oral/Eating (like swallowing a pill or cap) will get you high in about 20-45 minutes because it has to travel through the digestive system, like food. Some gets absorbed into the bloodstream along the way and some gets filtered out through the liver and kidneys. Eating a drug allows time for the body to absorb the drug and slowly bring on the high. The comedown is also more gradual than the quicker ways of getting high. Some people get gut rot (a sharp stomach ache) from eating crystal and it is always wise to have a bit of food in your stomach before swallowing pills (a light meal an hour or two before dosing is always a good idea).

    Unintended, Unwanted and Lingering Effects
    Longer lasting effects are the effects that appear after repeated use over a long period of time, many of which are amplified versions of the shorter term effects. Each of us is different and our use patterns are different, so there's no predicting how long or harsh some of the lasting effects may go on for you. Some users feel that a decrease in their mental abilities over time is a result of doing a lot of the drug or using it over long periods of time. Some things that are longer lasting may not necessarily be permanent however this depends on the extent of your use.

        Most of the longer lasting things can be nasty, including:

    • Weight loss
    • Non-healing ulcers and sores
    • Brittle fingernails
    • Tooth grinding
    • Chronic chest infections (that cough that just wont go away)
    • Liver disease (over long term, your liver is working overtime filtering all of the amphetamine)
    • Hypertensive disorders (define)
    • Depression

    Ever heard of amphetamine psychosis? Ever experienced it? If you have, there's no doubt about it. Whether you call it psychosis, freaking out or coming down for a week after a binge, it is usually an unpleasant trip. It is a mental disturbance similar to paranoid schizophrenia, with the experience being an exaggeration of the short term effects of really high doses which can range from extreme fear (although not sure exactly what you're afraid of) to aggression and/or suspicion (usually that everyone is out to get you, that people -even friends- have ulterior motives or that other people are following you for whatever reason). Basically it can happen when you go overboard with the meth and lose your mind for a bit. These types of head trips can be pretty destructive and usually include some of the following things:

    • Sudden, violent, irrational behaviour
    • Self-centered
    • Distorted perceptions
    • Delusions or threat of persecution
    • Paranoia

    This is an all around rough situation but the good news is that for most people these symptoms go away within a few days or weeks after you stop using (oh yea and chances are you need a serious dose of sleep to go with that!).

    Craaavings!
    Psychologically (in your mind) you may jones for meth. You might feel you can't live without it. The truth is that some people who have been using heavily for periods of time often crave it for years (even after stopping use). It may be quite some time before your body adjusts to life without the stimulation of crystal.

    Using crystal can be fatal. People have died from amphetamine overdoses. Crystal meth can cause ruptured blood vessels in the brain (when snorted), cardiac (heart) failure, hyperthermia (extremely high fever), seizures and/or coma. Knowing your limits and listening to your body are important steps in preventing both fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

    Overdose
    An overdose (OD) is what happens when you take more drugs than your body can handle.

    When someone is ODing on uppers (like e, speed, crystal, coke), they may look red in the face, be hot to touch, they might complain of chest pain, tightness or shortness of breath, they might seizure or suddenly collapse and become unconscious.

    Sometimes people who OD from doing more than one type of drug will show strange signs that may be a combination of symptoms. It's not always as easy to tell as the signs listed above. LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION�if someone looks really UNWELL get them some help. If you think they might be overdosing, don't wait for them to 'just get over it' or 'sleep it off,' but DO SOMETHING!

        Here's what you can do:

  • call 911 (or get someone around to call and report back to you so
  • you know they made the call)
  • if you are in a rave or club, get security because they will be able to clear the crowd, contact an ambulance or get the person to onsite medical services, if available.

    While you're waiting for the ambulance to arrive:

  • try not to leave the person alone (if you absolutely HAVE to go, make sure to leave them in recovery position and leave a way for the ambulance crew to get to the person. Try to leave a note on the person saying what s/he has taken.
  • keep the person as alert as possible
  • check to see if they can open their eyes and talk to you
  • squeeze their hand
  • talk to them
  • check the immediate surroundings for rigs (needles), spoons, vials, baggies, etc. If you don't know what they took this may help you know so you can tell the paramedics
  • don't give more drugs to counteract

If the person is passed out (can't wake them up or can't keep them awake):

  • check their pulse (on the side of the neck or the inside of the wrist) and breathing -can you feel their breath on your hand? Is their chest moving up and down?
  • Put the person in recovery position so they don't choke or throw up (if they're seizuring, then just move things out of the way so they don't hurt themselves -don't put anything in their mouth!)
  • If you can't get them into recovery position then tilt the body forward so the airway will be clear and if they need to puke, it will come out
  • If you or anyone around knows CPR or rescue breathing, now is the time to get to it

The most important thing in any medical emergency is to keep yourself safe so you can help the person. If the situation is not safe for you (for whatever reason), then leave the scene and call 911 immediately and give them all the details you can. Also remember that when you call 911 the police, ambulance and firefighters may all come. Remember to stash drugs and works out of site (if you know the person ODing, you may want to remove any drugs they have on them still). Be polite and cooperative. Tell them you found this person passed out, for how long and what drug(s) you think the person has taken. If the cops question you, you only have to give your name and address.

 

Quality Issues
A problem with crystal, any other street drugs, is contamination due to the cut and the manufacturing process. The peeps who concoct speed aren't usually working in a sterile pharmaceutical plant with a quality control program. Also, dealers may dilute the drug with other substances. Crystal can be cut with a lot of other materials (which can be quite damaging to inject) like: talcum powder, cornstarch, and crushed cold medicine pills (which have pseudoephedrine in 'em).

Most crystal is cooked using pseudoephedrine, an ingredient of many cold medicines red phosphorus, black iodine and toluene (also known as paint thinner). Toluene is toxic and the by-products of making meth are very toxic chemicals. Again, this all depends on the level of skill and care in the production of the crystal batch.

The side effects of ingesting the stuff that crystal is cut with are usually mild (like an itchy, irritated nose) however it can be serious if you're allergic to a certain product. You never really know what your drug is cut with so proceed with caution if using a product from a new source or from a new batch.

Addiction, Dependency and Habit�Oh My!
Info snagged straight from tweakers.org 'cause we couldn't have said it better ourselves
It's hard to say when use of anything becomes a habit: especially if the standard idea of habit is using every day, such as most cigarette smokers do.

There are also two kinds of habit, the psychological and the physical. Physical dependency on most drugs is unlikely if the use is once a month or less. The psychological attraction of a substance, such as crystal meth, may lead you to try it more often. For most things and for most of us, there's a blend of both types of habit. Even for something like exercise!

There are two things you may want to observe to decide if you are developing a habit. The first is to actually mark your use on a calendar, including how many days it took to get back to "normal," if you stayed up all weekend, etc. If you see that you are spending more and more time using or more frequently, you're probably on your way to habit. The second thing to look for is if you are changing plans, discarding other goals or changing who you spend time with based upon crystal meth use. Do you find yourself spending less time with people who don't use? Are you getting behind in school, work or professional goals? Just a few things to look for�

On the other hand, a lot of people use crystal occasionally and do not have a "habit." Often, their use is restricted to special events, like a vacation, a rave or a three day weekend. As ever, it's a personal choice and a set of personal realities for each of us.

Crystal and Sex
Some people use crystal and other types of speed for sex because it can enhance sensations and produce extra energy for longer, more intense sex. Drugs that enhance pleasure combined with being high can lead to an increase in taking risks with sex, cause sometimes (with or without drugs) we just want to feel good, now and deal with the results later. We can remind ourselves of the need for safer sex even if we're high by having condoms and lube nearby or anything that reminds us to be safe.

Because crystal gets you high by stimulating brain activity, shooting around neurotransmitters harder and faster than usual, it can also throw off the processes in the brain that happen during sex and/or physical arousal.

Sometimes, when using crystal, guys can have trouble getting an erection and keeping it up because the brain isn't giving or getting the signals needed to get and stay hard. On the other hand sometimes guys get a 'crystal dick' that won't go down for hours and it can be a real task trying to get off and orgasm can be difficult.. Although using crystal heavily may make you produce less sperm, there is no evidence that crystal use affects the quality or health of sperm.

Other users (both women and men) say that crystal doesn't enhance sex for them but that it actually lowers their sex drive and after using regularly for a while it becomes difficult to get turned on.

Crystal and HIV
(taken and edited from tweaker.org)
There's a really wide range of opinions on how crystal affects people living with HIV or AIDS. Lots of anecdotal discussion of HIV and crystal meth is totally contradictory, as some claim it kills your immune system off faster since it is "speed," while others swear it boosted their cell counts. A blended version of these says that it may boost your immune system up to a point, but that it also boosts HIV production, so you end up losing the gains over time. The truth is probably something even more complex. We know that managing HIV infection requires good nutrition, a higher balance of vitamins, building lean body mass, exercising and sleeping regularly. Crystal meth use, even only occasionally, can lead to skipping meals due to loss of appetite, depletion of vitamin, losing weight and staying awake for days at a time. Using crystal can also cause dehydration and mood swings when one is high or coming down. It can be a lot of stress on the body. People living with HIV/AIDS may be vulnerable to strange interactions between HIV meds and amphetamines, and therefore users on HIV meds may consider strategizing with their doctor, health care provider, service provider or friends on ways to avoid negative outcomes.

Crystal and Women
Women who use have some drug-related concerns that are different from men's. These tips and ideas were created by and for women users:

Many drugs including any amphetamines, affect our periods. They may be shorter, longer or stop altogether. But, we can still get pregnant or catch an STD or HIV. Birth control can be used to prevent pregnancy and condoms to reduce the chance of giving or getting sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) like HIV. If you miss your period for a few months you might want to get it checked out by a doctor because it could be a sign of more serious fertility issues.

If you are pregnant, it is especially important to find a doctor or health service provider who you can be open about your use with and figure out ways to minimize harm to you and your baby. Using low doses of amphetamines while pregnant does not cause birth defects, however if you are using recreational amphetamines like crystal while pregnant, it can have negative consequences for your baby. Using crystal when pregnant increases the chance that the baby may be underweight and/or premature. It also has been a factor in miscarriages for women who use crystal regularly. If you are breastfeeding your baby it is important to know that amphetamines can be passed through breast milk. The effects of breastfeeding babies while using crystal meth are not known, so it is safer to not to use; if you do use it is safer to explore alternatives to breastfeeding.

Because we live in a society where women are pressured to be thin (more so than men), some women use crystal for its appetite-suppressing and weight loss qualities. As a result, it can be hard to stop using crystal when we find its results appealing. Using crystal to lose weight or be thin is not healthy for our bodies and our minds. Exercise and movement can make us feel better about or bodies and keep us healthy. We don't have to be rail thin to be happy, sexy and attractive!

Detox
Again tweaker.org said it best:
The five big uglies of getting off speed are dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion, underlying problems and lasting effects on the body and mind. Many, many people do succeed on their own, despite their discomfort.

Dehydration is the easiest to remedy! A lot of us are chronically dehydrated, so it may take more than a few glasses of water to bring balance back into our system.

Malnutrition is more subtle, but an easy suggestion is PROTEIN. After crystal use, you've probably used up some supplies throughout the body. Also, several amino acids available as supplements may be especially helpful. Currently, tyrosine and phenylalanine are in studies which show some promise (they can be purchased at health food stores).

The strain of prolonged use, especially a long "run" may require a great deal of rest. There's no use fighting it, just make the best of it and take the time it takes to catch up on sleep. People report being sluggish and disoriented (but this slowly goes away as time goes on).

Those are the obvious tips! Many people find out that they have an underlying conditions, such as depression or Attention Deficit Disorder (formerly known as hyperactivity) and pursue treatment or counseling for those problems. In rare cases, there are more unusual underlying conditions for a person, yet only a physician will be able to make such a diagnosis.

The lasting side effects are subtle but can contribute to feeling less than human. Each of us is different and use patterns are different, and our use patterns are different, so there's no predicting how long or how harsh some of the lasting effects may go on for you. Psychologically, you may experience cravings for year. Physiologically, it may be some time before your system rebalances to life with out the stimulation of crystal.

Testing/Screening for Meth
At some point in your life, you may be asked (or forced) to take a drug test. Drugs can be detected in the blood, the urine and the hair. Hair analysis and blood tests are quite expensive so most places that do drug testing, use urine tests because they are the cheapest and quickest way to find the presence of a drugs in a person's system.

You may be required to take a drug test for work, school, prison, rehab, detox, methadone programs, social assistance or the courts. The best way to test clean for drugs is not to do any for a while before the test. Crystal and other amphetamines can be detected in pee for about 2-4 days and general drug tests do screen for amphetamines, unlike some other drugs that require a specific test to detect their presence.

Legal Stuff
One of the biggest harms that can come along with using any illicit (illegal) drug is getting caught by the authorities (or your parents, no matter what your age!)

Crystal meth is a 'Schedule III' drug under the 'Controlled Drugs and Substances Act' (formerly called the Narcotics Act) which means that the if you are caught with crystal on you, you are at risk for doing some serious time (depending on the amount of crystal, your age, your past record, the particular cop, the judge you get and the lawyer defending you).

The United States has taken an even more hard-nosed approach toward crystal and its use with the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act (MAPA), which is an attempt to crack down on meth labs as well as users. It allows for harsher penalties and makes it illegal to even provide info on crystal over the internet (yes, even if it's health info�unless it's anti-drug!)

Research on Meth
The researchers say that because crystal tweaks with or neurotransmitters it may alter our brain chemistry in ways that could be long term or permanent. Meth appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells that contain dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters). Over time, meth appears to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson's disease, a severe movement disorder. Animal research shows that high doses of meth alter neuron cell-endings. Dopamine and serotonin neurons do not die after meth use, but their nerve endings ("terminals") are altered and re-growth appears to be limited. Scientific studies (especially on illegal drugs) are subject to debate and many of them are not entirely objective as they claim.

Interactions
Mixing drugs is a tricky science that some people like to experiment with. You can never be sure how the drugs will react together and how they will react with your body chemistry. If you do mix crystal meth or different amphetamines with other substances, then there are a few things you should know about mixing:

Crystal + other uppers (like coke or e) = creates a synnergistic effect, meaning that you get higher by combining both than you would if you took them separately. This means all the speediness (and the risks that come along with it) gets amplified. Some people like to use crystal to prolong their e trip or increase the speediness of their buzz. Coke has similar effects to meth so there is increased toxicity and strain on the heart.

Crystal + downer (like ghb, ketamine and alcohol) = using crystal with depressants (called that because they depress or slow down your central nervous system) puts the body and mind in a state where it doesn't know whether to be up or down. Also because uppers and downers last for different lengths of time, if you've done more than your body can handle, it may be masked by a downer (or vice versa) and you could be higher than you bargained for (and increase chance of OD). Drinking alcohol on crystal is really hard on the liver and kidneys cause both put a lot of strain on the body's filtering process. So if you do, remember to drink plenty of water during and after to minimize an extra brutal hangover!

Natural Highs
So far we have discussed chemical (synthetic, made by people in a lab) stimulants but there are also natural (and legal) stimulants that come from the earth. Synthetic speed will give you the pep you want to dance the night away but there is also a whole world of plants and herbs that can provide extra physical and mental energy. Some of these herbs are included in some energy drinks sold out at parties.

    Ephedra boosts physical energy, speeds up metabolism and increases body temperature (remember to drink water!), high doses can be really speedy!

    Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the brain to get more nutrients and oxygen, increases mental alertness, attention span and concentration

    Gotu kola stimulates learning, memory and alertness (but in large doses it's sedating), increases vitality and can be used in combination with ginseng for that extra boost

    Guarana has 4 times the caffeine than coffee but has a property in it That counteracts jitters and other annoying side effects associated with uppers

    Royal jelly enhances metabolism and increases energy, combats stress and eliminates fatigue

    Siberian ginseng is a root used to improve stamina and help body deal with stress and exertion

    Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains many of the b vitamins missing in most diets. If used on a regular basis, provides increased energy and vitality

"The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals".
(Sir William Osler, Science and Immortality 1904)

So�In Conclusion
When it comes right down to it, to use or not to use is your choice only. For those of us who choose to use crystal, it is extra important that we find out about the ways that we can stay as healthy as possible while we're using.

Often we have to keep our use a secret out of fear of negative consequences. Sometimes we believe the messages and stereotypes about drug users and we may get down on ourselves. Some of us are comfortable with our use and some want to learn about ways we can control our use either by cutting down, stopping or using in different ways.

Wherever we are in your use and in our lives, we have the option to be as healthy as we can. There are very real harms that can come along with doing crystal or other drugs but these risks can be reduced if you choose to use in responsible ways. So get informed BEFORE you get high.

Things to Remember About Doing Crystal:

  • Eat something while you're high on speed. Even small meals and snacks are better than nothing. Feed your body the fuel it needs
  • It may make you horny as hell and make sex feel more fantastic. Be careful to stay safe while high. Use condoms and plenty of water based lube when fucking on crystal. Check the condom every so often to make sure it's still on and has not broken. Switch to a new condom for a longer fucking session -- condoms don't last forever!
  • Take vitamin C or apply vitamin E oil to reduce scarring from shooting up
  • If you're trying it for the first few times, do only small amounts or "bumps." This will help lower the chance that you'll crash hard. The less you crash, the better you'll feel. You'll also be less likely to want to do more the day after to cure the feeling of crashing. That's how people get hooked on speed -- using greater amounts at a time and using more frequently to avoid the negative effects of crashing.

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