Methamphetamine or meth is a very addicting drug that is related to amphetamine. Also referred to as speed, chalk, ice, crystal and glass, it has long-term effects on the central nervous system. This white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder can be consumed orally, snorted, injected or smoked.
Once consumed, meth causes wakefulness and excess physical activity. It creates a rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure and body temperature among others. Long-term use can trigger mood disturbances, violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and serious oral problems. Other symptoms of meth abuse are paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions (like the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin). These symptoms can remain for months or years even after you stop using the drug. Those who inject the drug are likewise susceptible to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
How many Americans use meth? In 2008 alone, 850,000 Americans 12 years and above reported having abused meth at least once. This number includes 1.2 percent of 8th graders, 1.5 percent of 10th graders, and 1.2 percent of 12th graders.
The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 10.4 million Americans aged 12 and above took meth at least once in their life for recreational use. This figure represents 4.3 percent of the U.S. population in that age group. Formerly, meth users were about 1.3 million (0.5 percent of the population aged 12 or older). The 2006 Monitoring the Future Survey revealed that 2.7 percent of 8th graders, 3.2 percent of 10th graders, and 4.4 percent of 12th graders reported lifetime use of meth.
Of 108 million emergency department (ED) admissions in the United States in 2005, the Drug Abuse Warning Network found that 1,449,154 visits were caused by drug misuse or abuse. DAWN data showed that meth was to blame for 108,905 drug-related ED admissions.