Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jul 2008
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Leigh Blenkhorn
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


It's known as speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, or crystal meth but no
matter what it's called, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug.

Methamphetamine is a type of amphetamine, a powerful stimulant that
speeds up the body's central nervous system.

The drug is a white, odourless, bitter-tasting powder that can be
snorted, swallowed, smoked or injected.

Jack Vanderberg, manager of Addictive Services for the Mental Health
and Addiction program at Royal Victoria Hospital, said meth and meth
addictions are still fairly new to this area.

"We haven't had many cases, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot
of people using," he said. Meth causes users to feel alert, confident,
talkative and euphoric. It makes a person's heart race, blood pressure
rise, and can cause chest pain, dryness of the mouth, nausea, vomiting
and diarrhea. Effects of the drug can last between six to 12 hours
depending on how it was injected, lasting a lot longer than many other

Afterwards users are left feeling depressed and tired.

Regular users will develop a tolerance to the drug quickly, causing
them to need more of the drug to get the same effect.

"Because the point of administering it is to stay high, you keep
needing it to get that feeling," said Vanderberg.

Negative effects of using meth can include aggressive and violent
behavior, paranoid delusions and hallucinations.

A common hallucination for a user is to see bugs crawling on or under
their skin. This causes them to scratch and pick at their bodies to
get the bugs out, resulting in sores. Another physical side effect is
known as meth mouth, or advanced tooth decay. It happens from a
combination of the chemicals, bad oral hygiene and teeth grinding.

According to Vanderberg, a big part of a meth addiction is in the mind
of the user.

"It is an extremely strong psychological addiction," he said. "The
cravings for the drug are really intense."

A psychological addiction means that when a person is going through
withdrawal the symptoms will be more about their emotions. A physical
addiction, such as heroin, causes a person to feel sick and shake when
going through withdrawal. A meth overdose can result in seizures,
fever, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke and death.

Although Vanderberg does not see as many meth addictions compared to
other drugs, he said once the drug makes its way into an area there
will be a huge increase.

"Meth is a very good business," he said. "It's the type that once you
get a lab or two it spreads very quickly." 
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