Traditionally, abuse of crystal meth was associated with white, male, blue-collar workers but is now reportedly being used by diverse groups in all regions of the country. According to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.4 million people age 12 or older have tried crystal meth at some point in their lives. Approximately 1.3 million reported using crystal meth over the past year and 512,000 reported using crystal meth within the last month.
The 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of study drug use and attitudes reported 4.5% of high school seniors had used crystal meth, 4.1% of 10th graders had used crystal meth and 3.1% of 8th graders (approximately 14 year olds!) had use meth within their short lives. Due to the abuse of crystal meth, admissions to treatment programs represented 8% of all admissions to drug rehabs in 2004. In 1992, only 5 states reported high numbers of crystal meth addiction as the primary problem reported at treatment admission. In 2002 more than a third of the country (21 states) reported high numbers of crystal meth abuse as the primary concern at admission, a greater than 400% increase in 10 years!
Increased abuse of crystal meth is also reported among young adults and is associated with those who attend private clubs and "raves" as well as homeless and runaway populations. Commercial sex workers, motorcycle gang members and gay populations are all experiencing an increase in the abuse of crystal meth, potentially contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted disease, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Occupations that require long hours of alertness and physical endurance, such as long haul trucking, have also seen a rise in the abuse of crystal meth.
What is crystal meth?
Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant, altering the user's moods in different ways as the effects of using it gradually diminish. Immediately after ingesting any form of crystal meth, the user experiences an intense, rush or feeling of extreme pleasure. Crystal meth initially generates powerful euphoric feelings often lasting 8 hours or more. This drug is smoked, snorted, taken orally or injected intravenously. Abuse of crystal meth is most often done by smoking the drug.
Crystal meth is a well known street drug and the abuse of crystal meth is considered the fastest growing and most serious drug problem facing America today. One of the reasons crystal meth has become so popular, is it can be produced by combining a specific set of chemicals, all of which can be obtained legally. Another reason is its mood altering effects have a tendency to last a long period of time. The term crystal meth refers to its crystalline appearance and the word meth is short for methamphetamine.
Abuse of crystal meth is extremely hazardous because this drug is highly addictive. Crystal meth causes severe, often irreversible, physical and psychological damage. Manufacturing crystal meth is dangerous because the process is toxic and potentially explosive. Some crystal meth users create, or "cook", batches of the drug right in their home, basement or garage. The bulk of production is done by drug-trafficking cartels in the United States, as well as Mexico and Canada.