Crystal Meth, also known as methamphetamine, is a man-made potent synthetic stimulant drug that affects the spinal cord and brain. It was used widely for legal medical purposes throughout much of the 20th century.
Unlike alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawal from methamphetamine is typically characterized by mental drug craving, depressed mood, disturbed sleep patterns, and increased appetite. There is no physical "dependence" of methamphetamine. Like cocaine, it is purely a mental fixation that with a choice to abstain, can be changed.
The drug's effects are similar to those of cocaine but longer lasting. Crystal Meth can cause erratic, violent behavior among its users. Effects include suppressed appetite, mood swings and unpredictability, tremors and convulsions in extreme cases, increased blood pressure, irregular heart rate. Users may also experience homicidal or suicidal thoughts, prolonged anxiety, paranoia and insomnia.
Long-term effects of Crystal Meth use can include brain damage, coma, stroke or death. Chronic users may also develop distinct physical symptoms such as weight loss, tooth decay and cracked teeth, psychosis and hallucinations, and sores on the body from picking at skin. Most of these effects are in extreme cases however.
According to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.4 million people age 12 or older have tried methamphetamine at some point in their lives. Approximately 1.3 million reported using methamphetamine over the past year and 512,000 reported using meth within the last month. Admission to methamphetamine treatment programs represented 8% of all admission to drug rehab in 2004. In 1992, only 5 states reported high numbers of methamphetamine use as the primary problem reported at treatment admission. In 2002 more than a third of the country (21 states) reported high numbers of methamphetamine use as the primary concern at admission, a greater than 400% increase in 10 years.