From the Elko Daily Free Press
Methamphetamine is simple to make, if you know how to do it. The drug can be produced through various chemical processes that use household materials, such as Drano, lithium batteries, matches, lighter fluid and cold medication. The chemicals used from the items to make meth are called precursors.
“A lot of people think meth is dangerous because of all the chemicals that go into it, but that’s not necessarily true,” said Barry K. Logan
, president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, during a phone interview with the Free Press. “All those chemicals can be toxic in themselves ... but together they create their own chemical, methamphetamine.”
Logan, who holds doctorates in both chemistry and forensic toxicology, is also the national director of NMS Labs, an independent forensic laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., that specializes in new drug detection and forensic analysis for criminal justice and death investigation agencies.
Meth is a central nervous system stimulant, Logan said.
“Once the drug gets into the brain, it releases a cascade of brain chemicals inside the user,” he said. “Meth makes people think everything is moving fast around them. They get motor restlessness syndrome and they can’t stand still, they have to be constantly moving.”
Throughout his research, Logan found that many users reported a sense of contentment before the fall.
“Euphoria is gradually replaced with mounting anxiety, inability to concentrate, and delusions,” Logan wrote in an article about the effects of meth. “The user is anxious, irritable, short-tempered, and introspective. Pseudohallucinations can occur, and paranoia sets in.”
This tweaking phase may last for hours and repeat for days, known as bingeing.
If you’re a severe abuser, you may go on “runs” that could last as long as 30 days.
These runs, known scientifically as high-intensity binges, gradually deteriorate your state of mind and frequently end in a psychotic state, according to Logan’s article.
Aside from the mental disorders associated with meth abuse, the drug takes a deadly toll on the body as well. Chronic use of meth can lead to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, stroke, neurological complications (like seizures) and pulmonary problems (like pneumonia).
Addicts commonly have missing or fractured teeth and are subject to gum disease, according to a report written by Dr. Richard A. Rawson, associate director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA.
Sexually transmitted diseases are also common among meth addicts due to increased risky sexual behaviors and other associated risk behaviors, such as sharing needles, while being on the drug, Rawson wrote.
Despite its lethal consequences, meth remains a staple crop of the drug industry and because of ongoing efforts to stop meth production, the hardcore drug continues to evolve.