Crystal meth is a narcotic drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant with effects similar to that of cocaine. Crystal meth was originally developed in 1919 as an alternative to ephedrine, but meth addiction didn't become widely prevalent until the 1960s. The cheap, smokable, crystalline form of the drug was developed in the 1980s, and as a result of its potency and affordability, became the drug of choice for many abusers, triggering an epidemic of meth addiction in the US (Buxton). Common street names for crystal meth include "crank," "tina," and "ice." (Buxton).
Meth addiction is a very difficult drug addiction to overcome, as ice drug users initially experience a sense of euphoria, heightened energy levels, and increased sexual pleasure, but with continued use of crystal meth, his or her tolerance increases and he or she needs more crystal meth to experience the desired effects. The result is a snowball addiction in which the user quickly loses control. The effects of long-term meth addiction can result in anorexia, paranoia, clinical depression, and neurodegeneration (loss of neurons in the brain). Those overcome by meth addiction sometimes pick at their skin, attempting to rid themselves of invisible "bugs" crawling on their bodies. This behavior is called "tweaking." (Russell). Another characteristic of ice drug users is decaying teeth due to poor oral hygiene coupled with the deteriorating effects of the drug crystal meth on teeth and gums. This problem is commonly called "meth mouth." (Klein).
Children of Crystal Meth Users
Children of ice drug users are in particular danger, specifically due to the process by which the drug is produced. Crystal meth is often "cooked" in homes, using materials and chemicals available at drugstores and hardware stores (Russell). The byproducts are very harmful and can cause life-long health problems for small children living in homes producing crystal meth. Also, parents who use ice drug have a tendency neglect their children's needs while on binges of ice drug use. Hypersexual behaviors experienced by people overcome by meth addiction can subject children to sexual abuse, either by the parents or other ice drug-using visitors to the home. Children subjected to meth addiction and production are also in danger of using ice drug themselves, as having a family history of drug abuse has a substantial effect a child's decision to use ice drug (Bellemare).
Who is at Risk for Meth Addiction?
There are several risk factors associated with meth addiction. A risk factor is a statistically or scientifically supported characteristic of the majority of ice drug users which has been determined to have a probable influence on their use of ice drug. For example, there are significantly more Caucasian ice drug users than African-American ice drug users (Fowler). Gender seems to hold a significant influence in meth addiction, as some studies suggest that men are more likely to use crystal meth than women (Russell). According to the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, meth addiction is specifically prevalent in the gay male population (Rosario). Use of the drug crystal meth also seems to be specifically concentrated in rural areas (Black).
Bellemare, Steven. "Dangers for children in the care of drug users. (Letters)(Letter to the editor)." CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 179.2 (July 15, 2008): 164(1).
Black, James, Wendy Haight, and Teresa Ostler. "Health and Psychiatric Issues in Children of Rural Methamphetamine Abusers and Manufacturers." Psychiatric Times 23.14 (Dec 1, 2006): 18.
Buxton, Jane A., and Naomi A. Dove. "The burden and management of crystal meth use. (Public health)." CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 178.12 (June 3, 2008): 1537(3).
Fowler, Joanna S., et. al. "Fast uptake and long-lasting binding of methamphetamine in the human brain: Comparison with cocaine. (Report)." Neuroimage 43.4 (Dec 2008): 756(8).
Klein, Andrew. "Dental disaster. (GROSS OUT)." Science World 64.10 (Feb 18, 2008): 22(1).
Rosario, Vernon. "A sober look at a drug epidemic." The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 13.6 (Nov-Dec 2006): 35(2).
Russell, Kelly, Donna M. Dryden, Yuanyuan Liang, Carol Friesen, Kathleen O'Gorman, Tamara Durec, T Cameron Wild, and Terry P. Klassen. "Risk factors for methamphetamine use in youth: a systematic review. (Research article)(Clinical report)." BMC Pediatrics 8.48 (Oct 28, 2008): 48.