I interviewed about 18 people in my area about what questions they had concerning crystal meth; below are the nine relevant questions they asked:

1. What is crystal meth?

Meth is short for methamphetamine, a white crystalline drug. Crystal meth is a strong, highly addictive and dangerous drug that affects the nervous system and the body in various ways.

2. What does the substance look like?

It looks like a glass fragment – shiny, blueish rocks and hydrochloride salt. Known colloquially as ice, tina or glass.

3. How is the drug used?

This drug is inhaled, injected, drunk and smoked. Crystal meth has no smell; it tastes bitter and dissolves in water easily.

4. What is the behaviour and characteristics of a meth addict?

This substance makes you feel awake and energised. Moods can swing from euphoric and aggressive to anxious and depressed. Fidget behaviour as one constantly nervous. The addict often develops sensations such as stomach bugs.

5. What happens after smoking?

The user starts looking different than they were before, they age quickly, mouth becomes dry and their teeth begin to break and rot. The effects of crystal meth can last between 2-6 hours a day, but the initial drug lasts for less than 30 minutes.

6. What are the long-term side effects?

• Hallucinations
• Mental breakdowns
• The brain creates a need for its use
• Weight loss
• Severe tooth decay
• Look of a wounded face and a collapsed jaw
• Dry skin
• Intense euphoria
• Appetite changes
• Increased energy and alert attention
• Increased sex drive
• High body temperature

7. What damage can it do to the central nervous system?

If the medulla oblongata is damaged, breathing and swallowing will be affected. If the back of the cerebrum is injured, the vision will be poor. If the cerebellum is damaged, balance and equilibrium as well as the co-ordination of voluntary movements will be affected. If the spinal cord is injured, then impulses from the brain to form different parts of the body will be affected.

8. How does the change in the brain affect the user’s feelings?

It can lead to depression and anxiety. Many meth addicts continue to use this substance in order to avoid dealing with these mood disorders. If someone is high on meth, they can hurt themselves and others without realising what they are doing.

9. How to approach a meth addict?

The best way to approach a meth addict is to talk to them the way you would talk to anyone else. Be sincere. Do not be manipulated, it’s okay to be angry with the addict, but don’t let those feelings rob you of the love you have for the person. Do not raise your voice and threaten them, remember the addict is also a victim of the drug. You’ll need to maintain emotional distance, use non-threatening body language, speak calmly. Be kind when presenting facts to them and don’t respond with anger.


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