About meth


What it is?

Methamphetamine (meth, P) is part of the amphetamine group of synthetic drugs, which have a powerful stimulant effect on the user. It can be a powder, a crystal-like-rock, or a pill.

What it does?

The effects of meth (P) depend on the user and the strength of the product. Using meth produces wakefulness, hyperactivity and often a euphoric effect.

Myths and legends

If you use meth, you will become violent

Using meth will not turn the user into a violent maniac. It can cause erratic behaviour or agitation but will not spark a violent rage in everyone who uses it.

Everyone who uses meth is a lowlife

People from all walks of life can become addicted to meth.

Risks

Using meth poses great health risks and risks to the user’s mental wellbeing. For heavy users, normal self-care routines such as sleeping, eating, washing and exercise can be neglected, which can lead to sleep deprivation, malnutrition and dental damage. In more extreme cases, lack of sleep and food can induce a drug psychosis.

Long term use of meth can cause anxiety and depression, damage to the nervous system and susceptibility to infection and disease.

Intravenous (IV) drug use poses risks to the user’s health, especially the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and skin infections. Sharing needles or syringes is extremely risky because this is the way infection can be transmitted. Never share your injecting equipment. If you need clean needles, there are needle exchange centres in most major centres in New Zealand. Exchange centres are listed here.

Reducing the harm

The New Zealand Drug Foundation’s message is clear: no drug use is the safest drug use. However, we know there will be occasions when people ignore warnings and use drugs in a dangerous manner. To help keep communities safe, here is some information about proven methods of drug harm reduction.

Methamphetamine can stimulate excessive physical activity leading to overheating. Users should always ensure they drink a lot of fluids, though care should be taken not to drink too many fluids as this can cause brain swelling, convulsions, coma and even death. As a guide, people using methamphetamine who are active should drink 500mls of water each hour and avoid drinking alcohol which dehydrates the body further.

Do not combine drugs. Combining drugs, even with legal substances such as alcohol can cause unpredictable effects. In the worst cases these can include coma, convulsions, seizures, dehydration and even death.

Along with lowered inhibitions, methamphetamine increases sexual desire and the ability to have sex for longer periods. This can often lead to people disregarding the potential dangers of unprotected sex, which contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Protect yourself – always use a condom during sex.

Using too much methamphetamine can keep the user awake for days, causing severe irritability and volatility, making the negative effects of the drug even worse. Methamphetamine should not be taken for extended periods.

Studies show that shared straws (used for sniffing or ‘snorting’) can spread of blood-borne diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis, through blood and mucus left on the straw. Utensils used for snorting methamphetamine or other drugs should not be shared.

Some people use methamphetamine intravenously. Infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, and skin infections are significant risks when injecting drugs. Always use clean needles obtained from a needle exchange service to minimise the risk of contracting an infectious disease or skin condition.

Never share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.

Unsanitary injecting environments also increase the risk of contracting infections. It is important that your hands and the site of injection are clean. This will help reduce the risk of infection.

For additional information

www.drugfoundation.org.nz/methamphetamine

PrueI've had some horrible, horrible times. And I got to the stage where I was broken down mentally and physically. It took me a long time to get over that.

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But I lost everything. I lost my daughter, I lost my family, I lost my respect, I lost my reputation. I lost my whole house, I lost all my furniture and my belongings. I lost my health. I lost half my teeth.

Prue