The Basics of Meth

Methamphetamine can be smoked, injected intravenously, snorted, or ingested orally. The drug alters mood in different ways, depending on how it is taken. Immediately after smoking or intravenous injection, the user experiences an intense “rush” or “flash” that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Smoking or injecting produces effects fastest - within 5 to 10 seconds. Snorting or ingesting orally produces euphoria - a high but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and ingesting orally produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.

Why is it addictive?

Meth is a powerfully addictive stimulant that has a dramatic effect on the central nervous system. Essentially, meth tricks the brain and body into thinking that it has limitless stamina while in fact draining critical energy reserves needed to maintain the body's vital organs and functions. As a consequence, meth produces bursts of energy and euphoria but ultimately leads to severe depression, brain damage, physical deterioration, and – in some cases – violent paranoia.

Meth is a stimulant – a drug that increases the energy of the user. Caffeine is a very mild stimulant, while cocaine and methamphetamine are more intense, addictive, and dangerous stimulants. Stimulant drugs such as meth and cocaine may be contrasted with narcotic drugs like heroin and morphine, which do not stimulate the nervous system but instead tend to dull the senses and induce relaxation, stupor, and sleep.

Meth and Crime

Persons who violate the law by making, possessing, or distributing meth often break the law in other ways as well – because of or in support of their meth habit. Many law enforcement agencies will point to a connection between meth makers and meth addicts and crimes such as: homicide, domestic abuse, illegal possession of handguns, theft and identity theft.

A recent survey of the inmates in the Nevada Department of Corrections facilities in early 2007 found that meth was a factor in the crimes of 40% of incarcerated men and 72% of incarcerated women.

Meth’s Effect on our Communities

Although it would be difficult to calculate just how much the methamphetamine epidemic costs the state of Nevada and its citizens every year, any such calculation would have to take account of the following facts:

  • Dismantling meth labs is a massive drain on law enforcement resources
  • Crimes committed by meth makers and meth users – including violent offenses, domestic abuse, property crimes, and identity theft – impose significant costs on law enforcement and, more importantly, on the victims of such crimes.
  • The arrest and prosecution of so many meth users has led to overcrowding of jails and prisons run by local, state, and federal authorities. The cost of housing and caring for meth defendants – many of whom have severe medical and dental problems – has placed an especially heavy burden on county and state budgets. 
  • State and federal court dockets are overwhelmed with meth cases. 
  • Persons driving under the influence of meth cause traffic accidents, imposing costs on insurance companies and – ultimately – their customers, as well as police departments, fire departments, emergency rooms, and other medical providers.
  • Fire departments must bear the cost of responding to the many fires and explosions caused by meth lab accidents.
  • Physical problems caused by meth lead meth addicts – most of them without resources or insurance – to seek medical help in local emergency rooms and publicly-financed healthcare facilities.
  • Social problems caused by meth use have overwhelmed public and private social service providers. 
  • Schools face added costs involved in educating the children of meth addicts, many of whom have suffered physical, emotional, and psychological harm stemming from their parents’ behavior.
  • Because meth users are usually indigent, the cost of caring for children born to meth-addicted mothers ultimately falls on taxpayers.
  • Widespread theft of meth-making materials such as cold medications and lithium batteries has imposed additional costs on retailers throughout Nevada.
  • As meth addiction spreads, employers throughout the state must deal with employees who are too sick to work effectively or work at all. Like other drug users, meth addicts account for significant levels of  workplace theft,tardiness, low productivitynd high turnover.
  • Similarly, meth addicts are more likely to cause workplace accidents than their counterparts.

Forms of Meth

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant with a high potential for abuse and dependence. A synthetic drug, methamphetamine is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but produces greater effects on the central nervous system. The drug’s euphoric effects are similar to, but longer lasting than those of cocaine. It generally comes in three forms:

    Meth Powder
    Powder: a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder, readily soluble in water or alcohol.
    Crystal Meth
    Crystal: Users smoke chunks of a very pure form of crystalline methamphetamine called “Ice”.
    Rock Meth
    Rock: Big chunks of the drug, usually found in yellow, are usually ingested orally.