Dear Crystal Meth 

Dear Crystal,

It is going on my fourth year of taking speed. I am a senior in high school and a four-year MVP for the basketball team. I come from a good home and drive a '97 Camaro. I am popular in school and have a hot girlfriend. My grades have been average all throughout high school. I like the energy speed gives me, and I don't have no complaints about it. Why are so many people afraid of it when I have been on it so long and I am doing just fine.

Sincerely,

No Problem

Dear No Problem,

Did you know that one of the first signs of an addict is denial. And now let me ask you a question. Would you trust a stranger with your car? How about your girlfriend with a stranger? Well, then why would you trust someone with your life? You are risking your life with meth made by someone in a lab that has no regulations, standards, or procedures. You do not know what may be in the meth you are taking, and it is possible for some to contain toxic chemicals that can cause death. To add to the dangers of your habit, the stress you are adding to your body from the stimulant causes your heart to accelerate. Then participating in strenuous activities that increase your cardiovascular system, like basketball, can cause a heart attack. Although you have not experienced any obvious negative associations with meth, the physical and psychological effects may not become apparent until you place yourself out of the situation. You seem like a successful teenager up to this point, but unless you stop your meth habit you will eventually lose what you have going for you and will not even realize it until it is too late. If you are not careful, your drug problem could develop into the use of other harmful drugs and/or polydrug use.

 

Dear Crystal,

I was emptying my husband's lunch pail last night and found a piece of a burned light bulb with his leftovers. I am wondering what a light bulb was doing in his lunch pail and if it could be associated with drug abuse? He's admitted to using drugs in high school, but promised me he quit once we got married. Can you help me?

Sincerely,

Boggled over Bulb

Dear Boggled over Bulb,

You are absolutely right. The light bulb is highly associated with drug use. Unless your husband is an electrician and changes broken light bulbs over his lunch break, there is a possibility that he is doing drugs. The drugs associated with light bulbs are those that can be burned and inhaled on broken fragments of a light bulb. While this is the most effective method of drug use, it is also the most dangerous due to the volatile chemicals of the drug. Once the drug is burned, it changes and is more reactive to substances within the body. I suggest discussing the situation at hand with your hubby to find out what drugs he is doing and why he is doing them. Chances are he is doing drugs to cover up a problem. Be supportive and try to discover what is really going on inside. If possible, try to seek professional help. The only way to help your husband is for him to get treatment and to be abstinent. You can try to help, but in the end if he is unwilling to get help you may find yourself having to distance yourself from him for now. Good luck to you and your husband. It is not easy to deal with a situation like this. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, so don't give up if you want your marriage to succeed.

 

Dear Crystal,

I am a good lookin' 16-year-old Sioux boy. The other day a friend and I took some meth. We both took the same amount from the same bindle but while my friend "tweaked" out of it I was able to go to sleep. I crashed on the couch and he "geeked" for nearly two days. Why did it affect us both so differently?

Sincerely,

Dazed and Confused in Style

Dear Dazed and Confused,

Each individual's physiology is different. The individual drug reactivity is due to the genetic and hereditary predisposition toward addiction and the purity of the drug. The physiological effect on the brain and central nervous system is different for each person as well. While you may have built a tolerance for the amount of drug that you took, your friend probably has a lower tolerance, and the drug affected him more so than it did you. In the case of developing tolerance for the drug, you will have to take more meth each time to have an effect. This is where you are playing Russian roulette. It is a game you can only lose once, yet some are dumb enough to play it. I've heard too many stories where even an experienced user has overdosed on meth because they didn't know their limits. Instead of participating in the shoot-and-miss tactics, it would be smarter not to participate at all. You are not a cat and do not have nine lives to gamble with. The other possibility is that the drug was cut with other pills such as aspirin, birth control, or any other pill that would blend in with the meth. Your friends could have gotten the real meth and you took the cut.

 

Dear Crystal,

I am under the impression that my next-door neighbor is a "cook" and has a meth lab in his basement. He is always buying a surplus of suspicious chemicals such as Draino, and there are often fumes coming from his windows. I am a former meth user but never participated in the actual production of the drug. I know that serious chemicals go into the making of it, but I am not aware of how dangerous it is for innocent bystanders. Can you tell me the dangers associated with living next to one and how I can detect it and avoid the dangers associated with it?

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde

Dear Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde,

Meth laboratories are toxic time bombs as they contain highly flammable materials and deadly chemicals. Unintended reactions from mixing chemicals could lead to fires and/or explosions causing damage to people and property. The toxic fumes, gases, and corrosive wastes cause acute and chronic health risks to human health and the environment. Protocols in response to illegal laboratories are desperately needed in communities at high risk. Coordinating specific responses to drug alarms among the public health, law enforcement and emergency response agencies at the local, state and federal levels will greatly benefit the well being of the society. Notify authorities if you detect a meth lab, and they will address the problem at hand. You can identify an illegal lab if you recognize abnormal activities going on in the early morning hours, and there is lab equipment being used.

 

Dear Crystal,

Iíve heard inhalants are used mostly by kids my age. I've also heard meth is the more common drug as you get older. I am 15 and find most of my friends, including myself, use crank. Can you tell me what inhalants are and why they claim inhalants are mostly used when it seems to me like it is actually meth that is being used?

Sincerely,

Interested in Stats

Dear Interested in Stats,

Chemical solvents such as toluene, benzene, propane, and those found in glue, paint, rubber cement, gas, nail polish, and white-out are the common inhalants. More than 20 percent of eighth graders have used such inhalants. They are the most dangerous drugs and also the ones most often used by children under fourteen. These are the most accessible drugs by adolescents and are the cheapest drug to get your hands on. Because of the relatively cheap cost of methamphetamines and the ease of accessibility, they are growing in popularity among even the younger crowd. This is obvious as you provided an easy access for your younger brother to try the drug. I suggest instead of being a negative role model for your siblings, you should try to impact them in a way that will promote their future not harm it. Addiction is a serious problem at your age and is like a bomb waiting to go off. It may seem like fun when you are young, but if you continue your habit it will escalate into more serious problems as you get older. In addition, once you start it is most likely going to lead you to the use of other more serious and deadly drugs. Stop doing drugs and only being interested in the statistics before you actually become one.

 

Dear Crystal,

I am a former meth user, being clean of it for several years now. I lost my friends in the process because of my decision to quit back then. A couple of them have been trying to come around recently with crank trying to get me to smoke with them again. I have no desire to start up again because I found myself to be more productive without the drug. I am 19 and have goals of going to college and making something of myself. I see my friends with no goals or desires in their life except to do drugs and it scares me because I don't want to lose their friendship, but at the same time I donít want to lose my goals and dreams I have for my life off drugs. How do you suggest I handle my situation I seem to have got myself into because of my past mistakes of doing drugs?

Sincerely,

Haunting Memories

Dear Haunting Memories,

The phrase "birds of a feather flock together" comes to mind when I hear your story. There are way too many kids your age being sucked into participating in activities they wish not to because of peer pressure. As long as you condone your friends abusing drugs, the problem will persist. Surround yourself with individuals that have similar ideas and goals as you do. People that are content and happy with themselves project an attitude that others want to be around. Your so-called friends must be drawn to you because of your new ambition and attitude in life. However, you must be cautious in being pressured by them and their drug habits or else you too will lose your goals in life. I have to congratulate you on your desire to go to college. You are about to enter a new world of opportunities by furthering your education. College is going to be a transition for you in many ways, one of which is going to be the social atmosphere. You will meet people of many areas, interests and ideas on life. It will give you the opportunity to explore social situations you are most comfortable in and find new friends to hang out with. Be selective and only choose friends who will allow you to grow and fulfill your dreams in life. Although time really does heal all wounds, don't let it fade the lessons you have learned.

 

Dear Crystal,

I am a 15-year-old girl and was wondering if strychnine is poisonous. Two of my best friends use meth and they claimed they got some cut with rat poison that contained strychnine. The next day they both developed a rash. What is strychnine, and do you think the rash was caused by it other than the meth itself?

Sincerely,

Lucy Loker

Dear Lucy Loker,

The production of street meth uses many dangerous chemicals. Since the production of the drug is not under standardization, most of the producers use other products such as strychnine. They cut the drug with these other products to increase their sale productions, a rather selfish and dangerous act. Strychnine is an alkaloid extracted from the seeds of the Indian tree Strychnos nux vomica. Although it was used for hundreds of years in tonics for circulatory, respiratory and digestive disorders, it has no known medical use today. Instead, it is only used as an animal poison. Strychnine poisoning in humans is very uncommon and can be treated effectively upon moderate exposure. Severe strychnine exposure, however, causes continuous muscle spasms and convulsions. The rash could have developed as an allergic response to the poison or any other chemical present in the methamphetamine. Street drugs are ruthlessly produced and should be viewed as a snakebite, dangerous, painful and potentially deadly. The drug should be avoided altogether since it poses no beneficial outcome to your body.

 

Dear Crystal,

Some friends and I went on a meth "run" for four days and didn't eat anything at all. We heard that even though we weren't hungry we should at least try to eat some bananas because we really needed them. Is this true?

Tina Tweeker

Dear Tina Tweeker,

Bananas are rich sources for the mineral potassium, are full of carbohydrates, and are easy to digest. Potassium is the main electrolyte (cation) in the intracellular fluid (the major fluid compartment of the body). It functions in maintaining blood pressure in the body. While potassium helps keep blood pressure low, it is not in sufficient amounts to counteract the increase of blood pressure caused by meth. Although it is not a bad idea to eat at least something, it is not safe to eat an unbalanced diet, especially over the duration of time when on drugs.

 

Dear Crystal,

I remember reading somewhere that meth was first used to treat patients with asthma. Can you explain why meth was used and if it is still used today?

Sincerely,

Inquiring Minds

Dear Inquiring Minds,

Asthma is the obstruction of airways by excessive mucous production and by bronchial wall smooth-muscle constriction. Meth is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. One way in which it affects the central nervous system is that it dilates blood vessels in the body. Because meth causes a dilation of the blood vessels, it opens up the bronchioles (the airways in the lungs) and relieves the airflow obstruction. While ephedrine, the main drug in meth, was used in the past to treat asthma patients, it is no longer used today, and the preferred drugs to treat asthma include corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium, nedocromil sodium, beta2-adrenergic agonists, theophylline, leukotriene modifiers, and anticholinergics.

 

Dear Crystal,

Where does meth come from, and how is it different from other stimulants such as mini thins, ritalin,and diet pills containing ma haung, polypropanolamine, and ephedrine? I know people can have heart attacks from overdosing on any of the drugs, but can they cause heart murmurs as well?

Sincerely,

Skippin' A Beat

Dear Skippin' A Beat,

Methamphetamines can be derived from other stimulants such as mini thins, Ritalin, and diet pills. They all contain the stimulant ephedrine, which causes the blood vessels to constrict. Vessel constriction prevents sufficient oxygen from being delivered to the heart and if taken in high dosages or used excessively, can contribute to an absence of or an irregular heartbeat.

 

Dear Crystal,

I have a relative who is three weeks pregnant and takes crank almost every day. She also has a 14 month old and continues to breast feed while on crank. She said she is going to quit for her unborn child after she is further along in her pregnancy because it isn't going to affect the fetus right now. What advice do you have for me to give her, and what can I expect for her unborn child as well as her 14 month old?

Sincerely,

Concerned for the Children

Dear Concerned for the Children,

It makes me happy to know at least someone is watching out for the well being of the unborn child and the 14 month old. After all, the children are our future and it is our job to protect what lies ahead for them. Sadly, the drug may have affected the children already. Methamphetamine is considered a teratogen, meaning it affects the growing fetus. It could cause congenital malformations as well as effects that will be apparent later in life. As for the 14 month old, I highly recommend you stop her from breastfeeding as the child could easily experience methamphetamine overdose through the breast milk. The child may also experience effects later in life, which will have a huge impact on survival skills. Please seek help for both the children and the mother.

Dear Crystal,

I was thinkin' and I maybe thought . . . well if crank kills your brain cells because I take it so often and me and my friends we do it for fun. Like that commercial with those one eggs frying in that one pan. Does it sound like that for reals?

Sincerely,

Cranked-Out-of-it

Dear Cranked-Out-of-it,

Meth is a stimulant and causes increased blood flow throughout your body, particularly in the brain. Blood vessels constrict in the brain, and the tissue is deprived of oxygen since the blood is carrying other compounds other than oxygen. These compounds from meth are dangerous to the body and create tissue damage and possibly even death. The cells are also being deprived of sufficient oxygen and further lead to necrosis, or cellular death. My advice is to not worry about what it sounds like when those eggs are frying in that pan, but rather to worry about all those brain cells you are destroying when you take that meth.

 

Dear Crystal,

Why does crank cause your skin to itch and feel like bugs are crawling all over you?

Sincerely,

Bugged

Dear Bugged,

The main function of the skin is to maintain constant body temperature. The skin shows wide fluctuations in blood flow, depending on whether the body needs to lose or conserve heat. Since meth is a stimulant and causes the internal body temperature to rise, there is an increase in the blood flow to the skin to counteract the temperature rise. In addition, the produced sweat contains an enzyme that acts on the tissue fluid to produce another compound to dilate the arterioles and increase blood flow to the skin even more. The combined effects on the skin create a sensation on the nerve endings located in the skin and cause feelings of "crawling bugs." Furthermore, when the sweat evaporates, it removes the protective sebaceous oil coating the skin, which eventually leads to dry skin. The combined effects of dehydration, sweating, and removal of the sebaceous oil all lead to formication, which is crank bugs, sores, acne, etc. The psychological aspects of the drug complicate the situation even more by causing users to "tweak- out" and pick at their skin.

 

Dear Crystal,

My boyfriend found out about my meth habit and gave me an ultimatum of either him or the drugs. I know what to choose, but still feel compelled to continue my habit. It is not what I want, or what I need right now. I donít know what to do? Any suggestions?

Sincerely,

Twisted in all directions

Dear Twisted in all directions,

Although you want to follow your heart and choose your boyfriend, addictions are very difficult to overcome. There is lots of research supporting the neurophysiological components of addiction. Methamphetamine is shown to impair judgment and largely affect the emotional status of the user. Although it is easier said than done, you need to seek whatever treatments are available to you. Do not feel ashamed of your problem, as meth addiction is a very serious illness and has nothing to do with your willpower. Your ability to identify your problem is to be commended since one of the qualities of addiction is the inability to evaluate anything clearly. Various treatments are available as resources for people with similar situations as yours. For example, Narcotics Anonymous, medical treatment or spiritual cleansing are all avenues that may be options to help you overcome this problem. There are many people who have been in your spot and have come clean of it. They are living evidence of hope and the ability to change. I encourage you to continue on your journey to cleanse yourself and regain your self-respect. Narcotics Anonymous is available at (818) 773-9999 or on the web at http://www.na.org/. If you are unable to find a local meeting site, you can email the organization at FSTeam@na.org. Another phone number which may be of help to you is the National Drug Information Treatment and Referral Hotline at (800) 662-HELP (4357).

 

Dear Crystal,

I admit I smoke meth and drink alcohol every time I have the chance. I know the dangers associated with each drug, but I was wondering if you knew the dangers with taking both of them at the same time?

Playing with fire

Dear Playing with fire,

Donít you know how the old saying goes, "if you play with fire youíre going to get burned." Well, when two drugs are taken together they often act synergistically, meaning they have more severe outcomes than if they were taken alone. Research has shown that both methamphetamine and alcohol serve to increase cardiac work, which could produce more adverse cardiovascular effects than either drug taken alone.

 

Dear Crystal,

Iíve been dating this native guy that I have really grown to like. I met him at the MSU-Bozeman 49 and it was love at first sight. He is the man of my dreams. He is tall, dark and an awesome fancy dancer. And did I mention handsome?! Weíve been going out for a couple months but the problem with our relationship is that he is a meth addict and gives off a strong offensive odor of cat urine. I've heard that this is a sign of methamphetamine use. If so, how and why does it cause that smell?

Sincerely,

Offensive Odor in Oswego

Dear Offensive Odor in Oswego,

The smell could be derived from traces of meth emitting from the sebaceous sweat glands working to eliminate the toxins stored in your body. Another reason for the offensive smell is that some methamphetamine production involves human urine. According to the Bureau Chief of Narcotics for the state of Montana, much of the seized methamphetamine originates from the Mexican Mafia and one constituent is actual human urine. This contributes to the yellow color typical of the prevalent meth seen in Montana.

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