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Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine enters the brain and triggers a cascading release of dopamine and norepinephrine. Inducing intense euphoria, with a high potential for addiction. To a lesser extent, methamphetamine releases serotonin and acts as a dopaminergic and adrenergic reuptake inhibitor, with higher concentrations serving as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Users may become hypersexual or obsessed with a task, thought or activity. Withdrawal is characterised by excessive sleeping, eating, and depression, often accompanied by anxiety and drug-craving.

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Methamphetamine users may take sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, as a means of easing their comedown, anxiety or difficulty sleeping.

Methamphetamine has medical uses as well as the potential to cause addiction. Methamphetamine addiction typically occurs when a person begins to use the drug illicitly, most often in its crystalline form (crystal methamphetamine) for its powerful enhancing effects on mood and energy. Tolerance quickly develops, and users have greater difficulty functioning and experiencing pleasure without the drug. Nicknames for methamphetamine are numerous and vary significantly from region to region. Some common nicknames for methamphetamine include "ice", "crystal", "meth", "crystal meth", "crank", "glass", "shabu".

Crystal Meth was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1893 by chemist Nagayoshi Nagai. In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized by Akira Ogata via reduction of ephedrine using red phosphorus and iodine.

After World War II, a large supply of amphetamine stockpiled by the Japanese military became available in Japan under the street name shabu. The Japanese Ministry of Health banned it in 1951; since then it has been increasingly produced by the yakuza criminal organization.

In the USA in the 1960s saw significant use of clandestinely manufactured methamphetamine as well as methamphetamine created in users' own homes for personal use. The recreational use of methamphetamine continues to this day. San Diego, California was described as the "methamphetamine capital of North America" in the December 2, 1989 edition of The Economist.

In 1983, laws were passed in the United States prohibiting possession of precursors and equipment for methamphetamine production. Despite this, use of methamphetamine expanded throughout rural United States, especially through the Midwest and South.

It is a member of the family of phenylethylamines.

Crystal Meth is a potent central nervous system stimulant that affects neurochemical mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention, mood and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions. The acute physical effects of the drug closely resemble the physiological and psychological effects of an epinephrine-provoked fight-or-flight response, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, constriction of the arterial walls. Users experience an increase in focus, increased mental alertness, and the elimination of fatigue, as well as a decrease in appetite.

Crystal Meth is a potent neurotoxin, shown to cause dopaminergic degeneration. High doses of methamphetamine produce losses in several markers of brain dopamine and serotonin neurons. Dopamine and serotonin concentrations, dopamine and 5HT uptake sites, and tyrosine and tryptophan hydroxylase activities are reduced after the administration of methamphetamine.

Physical effects can include anorexia, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, headache, hypertension, hypotension,blurred vision, dizziness,muscle twitches, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, tremors, dry and/or itchy skin, acne, and with chronic and/or high dosages, convulsions, heart attack, stroke, and death can occur.

Psychological effects can include euphoria, anxiety, increased libido, alertness, concentration, energy, self-esteem, self-confidence, sociability, irritability, aggression, psychosomatic disorders, excessive feelings of power and superiority, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and with chronic and/or high doses, amphetamine psychosis can occur.

The extent of tolerance and the rate at which it develops vary widely between individuals, and even within one person it is highly dependent on dosage, duration of use, and frequency of administration. Tolerance to the awakening effect of amphetamines does not readily develop.

Short-term tolerance typically lasts until neurotransmitter levels are fully replenished; this can be greater than 23 days. Prolonged overstimulation of dopamine receptors caused by methamphetamine may eventually cause the receptors to downregulate.To compensate, larger quantities of the drug are needed in order to achieve the same level of effects.

Crystal Meth is addictive. While not life-threatening, withdrawal is often intense and, as with all addictions, relapse is common. The mental depression associated with methamphetamine withdrawal is longer lasting and more severe than that of cocaine withdrawal.

Studies have shown that the subjective pleasure of drug use (the reinforcing component of addiction) is proportional to the rate at which the blood level of the drug increases. In general, intravenous injection is the fastest mechanism, followed by smoking, suppository, snorting, and swallowing. Ingestion does not produce a rush, which is the most transcendent state of euphoria experienced with the use of methamphetamine and is the most prominent with intravenous use. While the onset of the rush produced by injection or smoking can occur in as little as two minutes, the oral route of administration usually requires approximately half an hour before the high kicks in.

When illicitly produced, it is commonly made by the reduction of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Most of the necessary chemicals are readily available in household products or over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines.

An impure form of methamphetamine is sold as a crumbly brown or off-white rock commonly referred to as "peanut butter crank". Methamphetamine found on the street is rarely pure, but adulterated with chemicals that were used to synthesize it. Another popular method is to combine methamphetamine with other stimulant substances such as caffeine or cathine into a pill known as a "Kamikaze", which can be particularly dangerous due to the synergistic effects of multiple stimulants. It may also be flavored with high-sugar candies, drinks, or drink mixes to mask the bitter taste of the drug. Coloring may be added to the meth, as is the case with "Strawberry Quick."

As of 18 January 2007, methamphetamine is classified as a Class A drug in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 following a recommendation made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in June 2006. It had previously been classified as a Class B drug, except when prepared for injection.

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