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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is an extremely powerful and addictive central nervous system stimulant that also negatively affects the cardiovascular system. A Methamphetamine user will exhibit noticeably increased physical activity, at times staying awake for days at a time. A user is subject to intense feelings of paranoia and can be violent with unpredictable behavior. Chronic Methamphetamine abuse permanently damages the pleasure center of the brain, so that the only way to experience pleasure would be the continued abuse. The drug can easily be made in secret laboratories from relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. Because methamphetamines can be made with readily available, inexpensive materials, there is great variation in the processes and chemicals used. This means that the final product that is sold as "meth" may not be that drug at all. Uncertainties about the drug's sources and its content make it difficult to know how powerful this substance may be and what the consequences are of this potent mixture. These clandestine labs can exist in a residence, building, car, box, cooler, ditch, or any other public or private location. These labs contain very dangerous and volatile chemicals. If you suspect a lab is located near you or know of a location, please contact the Devils Lake Police Department at (701) 662-0700 immediately.

The street names for Methamphetamine are, "meth," "speed," "chalk," "ice," "crystal," "crank," "fire," and "glass." This white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and is taken orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking. Teens may think that the bizarre way the drug makes them feel is cool; however, the drug is altering their brains - maybe permanently.

Signs of a Meth Lab

  • Strong smell that might resemble urine, or unusual chemical smell like ether, ammonia, or acetone.
  • Little or no traffic during the day, but lots of traffic at extremely late hours.
  • Extra efforts made to cover windows or reinforce doors.
  • Residents never putting their trash out or putting their trash in neighbors' garbage cans.
  • Lab materials surrounding the property.
  • Vehicle trunks loaded with chemical containers, or basic chemistry paraphernalia - glassware, rubber tubing, etc.
  • Laboratory glassware being carried into the residence/building.
  • Inhabitants smoking outside due to the fumes inside the lab.

Signs of a Meth UserMethamphetamine

  • Agitation
  • Excited speech
  • Decreased appetites
  • Increased physical activity levels
  • Increased respiration
  • Dilated pupils
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia
  • Irregular or rapid heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Episodes of sudden and violent behavior, intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and bouts of insomnia.
  • A tendency to compulsively clean and groom and repetitively sort and dissemble objects, such as cars and other mechanical devices.

How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain

Methamphetamine increases the release and blocks the reuptake of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) dopamine, leading to high levels of the chemical in the brain - a common mechanism of action for most drugs of abuse. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Methamphetamine's ability to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or "rush," that many users feel after snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug.

Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions. Noninvasive human brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Recent studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory, which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.

Repeated methamphetamine abuse can also lead to addiction - a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, which is accompanied by chemical and molecular changes in the brain. Some of these changes persist long after methamphetamine abuse is stopped. Reversal of some of the changes, however, may be observed after sustained period of abstinence (e.g., more than 1 year).

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Long-Term Effects of the Drug

Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same physical effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. Items used to make Methamphetamines

  • Paranoia
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin)
  • Cause a stroke
  • Create a mental disorder that mimics schizophrenia
  • Be extremely addictive
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems ("meth mouth")
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Mood disturbances
  • Violent behavior
  • Transmission of HIV and Hepatitis B and C
  • Alter judgment and inhibition and can lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors

Kicking the Habit

Currently, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are comprehensive cognitive-behavioral interventions. For example, the Matrix Model - a behavioral treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counselling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non drug-related activities - has been shown to be effective in reducing methamphetamine abuse. Contingency management interventions, which provide tangible incentives in exchange for engaging in treatment and maintaining abstinence, have also been shown to be effective. There are no medications at this time approved to treat methamphetamine addiction; however, this is an active area of research for NIDA. If you need help or know someone who struggles with addiction, please contact one of the following agencies:

North Dakota Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation
North Dakota Crystal Meth Rehab
Road To Rehab
North Dakota Mental Health And Substance Abuse Services

Meth: Do's and Don'ts

  • Do: Call the police if you suspect a meth lab
  • Don't: Check out the lab yourself (remember they are explosive)
  • Do: Be alert for labs or drug houses in your neighborhood
  • Don't: Approach someone you suspect is "high on meth." These people can be very dangerous
  • Do: Get help for friends or family members who you know are using meth

If you have any information that may assist law enforcement, please consider contacting Crime Stoppers at (701) 662-0739. You may choose to remain anonymous, and, in the case of Crime Stoppers, you may be eligible for a reward for the information you provide.

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