All You Need to Know About Methamphetamine & Methamphetamine Testing
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant characterized by its white, odorless yet bitter-tasting powder. Its chemical structure is closely related to amphetamine, which lasts long to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system.
Methamphetamine is available through prescription but it is also smuggled through the black market. Anyone who buys it for recreational purposes usually calls the drug as speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, or glass. Meth is basically used for medicinal purposes, but because of its high potency and addictive quality, the drug is by teenagers. At first, the drug creates a euphoric effect and increases libido, but long term use causes adverse effect to the physical and mental aspects of a person.
Despite its contribution to the field of medicine, meth is now considered as one of the most dangerous and commonly abused drugs. Any person who is suspected to have abused the drug may undergo a supervised drug testing using the methamphetamine drug test kits.
History of Methamphetamine
The term methamphetamine originated from the elements on the drug’s chemical structure, which is methyl alpha-methylphenylethylamine. The drug was first synthesized in Japan by a chemist named Nagai Nagayoshi.
Back in 1944, Meth was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat a wide variety of diseases like ADHD, post-encephalitic Parkinsonism, chronic alcoholism, cerebral arteriosclerosis, and hay fever.
By 1950, the production of meth tablets known as Dexedrine and Methedrine flourished. They were used by college students, truck drivers, and athletes to cure a certain diseases, lose weight, and remedy depression.
During the World War II, Meth was believed to be given intravenously to Adolf Hitler by his own physician to treat his Parkinson’s disease. It was also used by military forces and Japanese industrial workers to increase their agility and productivity.
On the threshold of the 20th century, many issues arose concerning the production and use of amphetamine. In Japan, the drug has been used to earn large amount of money until it was banned by the Japanese Ministry of Health. According to history, feud between the government and large businesses, including drug lords have risen up since Meth’s potential for growing business has been discovered.
Production and Distribution
Methamphetamine can be found as an ingredient in over-the-counter medicines like cough syrups. However, its high demand in the black market tempted illegal drug makers to smuggle the drug.
Meth is made from the reduction of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The production of meth for medicinal use follows a 92 percent conversion whereas illegal production entails only 50 to 70 percent conversion.
Meth is also derived from the protonation of amphetamine. A dangerous conversion method known as Birch or Nazi is also practiced in producing meth for illicit trade.
The types of methamphetamines that are illegally distributed are impure. Rather than bearing a white crystalline color, they appear to be brownish or tan. They are sold in different shapes and are distributed through cargo ships. An example of adulterated meth is called the “vaa baa”, a Thai name for “crazy medicines”, which appears as colorful flavored pill that contains meth and caffeine.
Different Routes of Administration
Meth is absorbed by the body through four different routes of administration. These include needle injection, smoking, insufflations, and suppository.
Smoking is the most common method used by drug abusers in the recent years, according to the latest survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Like other stimulants, the speed meth effects in the person varies depending on the route of administration. The tendency of methamphetamine’s pleasurable effect to fall down even before its concentration in the blood diminish has lured people to try the different routes of administration over and over again until they reach the desired effect. This instance is the main reason why at first try, a person may immediately have a positive methamphetamine drug test result.
Injecting meth intravenously is known to be the fastest route of drug administration, causing its concentration in the blood to rise quickly. This method is also known as “slamming’ or “banging” in which addicts use hypodermic needles to administer 100 milligrams to 1 gram of meth in the body. Intravenous administration is the most risky method though. It causes skin allergy known as “speed bump” to the spot where the injection passed through, as well as blockage in the artery.
This is the second fastest route of administration, which leads to a very fast uptake of drug in the brain. This method is also known as “chasing white dragons,” wherein addicts use a glass pipe made from glass-blown Pyrex tubes heated underneath by a light bulb. Sometimes, they also use aluminum foil, which is heated through a flame. When meth is vaporized, addicts inhale the smoke that comes out from the heated materials. Drug testing on some people with lung cancer has shown longer association with smoking meth.
This method is also known as snorting, wherein abusers crash the methamphetamine into a fine powder and sharply inhale them using a straw. Like cocaine, the powder is absorbed through the soft tissues of the mucus membrane located at the nasal cavity. This sends the drug straight to the bloodstream resulting into extreme euphoria for a few minutes.
Although this method is the least used among the four routes of drug administration, abusers administer meth via anal or vaginal when using meth as suppository. Its effect is believed to bring sexual arousal and pleasure to the person. The effect is also known to be longer lasting than the rest of the methods. Suppository meth is also known as “booty bumps”, “hooping” or “butt rocket.”
Medical Use of Methamphetamine
In 1944, methamphetamine was widely used as an effective treatment for many kinds of diseases, such as mid depression, chronic alcoholism, ADHD, and hay fever. However, when scientists discovered its addictive instincts, it was later on reduced by FDA to treat only two diseases.
In the United States, methamphetamine is approved by FDA to treat ADHD and exogenous obesity among children and adults. Legal amphetamine is sold under brand name Desoxyn, which is also prescribed off-label to treat narcolepsy and depression.
Desoxyn should not be taken when a person is suffering from medical condition such as glaucoma, heart disease, hypertension or any history of heart attack and stroke as it would cause severe allergic reaction and other adverse effects.
Effects of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine brings positive and negative effects in the person’s health. First, it suppresses the symptoms of ADHD and alters the mood of a depressed person. It also creates a pleasurable feeling and most of the times; it increases euphoria and content to the person who regularly takes it. The downside occurs when a person starts to abuse meth, such as taking it beyond normal dosage and mixing it with other drugs.
Most of the people who are into meth medication can also get addicted to the drug despite not doing it intentionally. The addictive effects of meth prompted doctors to prescribe the drug only when very necessary. Although, some meth addicts have simply started out as meth patients, they are still at risk for the adverse effects of meth on health.
Methamphetamine poses high risk for physical disorientation and psychological damage as part of its long term effects. Anyone who is found to be positive through methamphetamine drug testing shall be dealt with according to law unless the person undergoes necessary meth medication.
Signs & Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse
There are many ways to detect whether or not a person has recently abused meth. These signs and symptoms may even be used as grounds for methamphetamine drug testing. It can also be done if a suspected person is involved with life threatening instances.
The following are physical signs of abusing methamphetamine.
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth
The following are symptoms of methamphetamine abuse.
- Euphoria during the first few minutes after administration
- Increase in libido
- Hypertension or hypotension
Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Increased appetite
- Suicidal ideation
Adverse Effects of Methamphetamine
Abusing methamphetamine brings a variety of adverse effects in the body. Health practitioners have always cautioned teenagers regarding the recreational use of methamphetamine. A person who abuses meth for a long time is at risk of developing severe physical and mental dysfunction that can last for a lifetime.
A person who is under meth medication is also at risk for addiction. The perilous side effects of abusing methamphetamine include psychological damage, physical damage, genetic effects, and meth mouth. Abrupt stoppage to meth abuse is dangerous as well. Medical doctors are careful in inducing other drugs to fight off meth addiction since it also causes severe withdrawal symptoms.
Abusing meth changes the significant functions of the brain, one of which focuses on the alteration of dopamine activity. Dopamine plays a significant role in reward, motivation, and experience of pleasure motor function of the brain. However, when a person abuses meth, it disturbs the normal function of dopamine in the brain. This disturbance increases the release and reduces the uptake of dopamine in the brain, which causes the level of chemicals to rise. This instance intensifies the feeling of happiness known as euphoria.
When this happens over and over again, a person may soon experience reduced motor skills and verbal clarity. It also causes psychosis, a condition wherein a person starts to see extreme hallucination and vivid dreams, flashback of memories, and paranoia. By then, a person may also experience severe memory loss due to brain damage.
Prolonged addiction to methamphetamine causes blockage in the blood vessels. This instance may cause damage to the significant functions involved in the circulatory system, which may lead to heart attack and stroke.
A person who is abusing meth also looks malnourish and very untidy. In terms of physical features, meth can make a person look anorexic and flushing while the eyes look bloodshot and sunken dark. It can also cause harmful effects to the vital organs.
Newborn babies are at risk for genetic effects especially when a mother abuses meth during pregnancy. Methamphetamine drug testing on pregnant mother shows that meth is absorbed by the bloodstream and then passes through the placenta to the fetus. The drug is also secreted to the breast milk. According to studies, infants born with mothers in this condition develop physical deformities and malformation. They also have smaller gestational age compared to normal babies.
Methamphetamine abuse causes advanced tooth decay to addicts. According to the American Dental Association, meth mouth is caused by a poor personal hygiene as a result to meth addiction. Frequent meth use along with the consumption of carbonated beverages also cause bruxism or teeth clinching. This causes teeth to weaken and crack easily.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Meth increases sexual desire, which lures abusers to engage in unplanned sexual activities. According to studies, HIV has been a recurring disease among bisexuals who engage into anal intercourse. Likewise, infected men who engage in sexual intercourse with women transmit the disease sexually and even cause sores, as well as abrasions due to prolonged sexual activity.
Group abusers who use and manipulate a common needle during intravenous abuse are also at risk for blood borne diseases, such as hepatitis A and B and HIV.
Treatment Options for Methamphetamine Abuse
Treating methamphetamine addiction takes a great deal of effort for it is typically a complicated and lengthy process. Patients cannot expect a quick treatment for methamphetamine, otherwise, it may result into severe withdrawal symptoms such that of a detox method.
Doctors may suggest treatment options that involve taking some other drugs such as Bupropion, Aripripazole, and Baclofen. They focus on treating the symptoms of addiction, as well as its withdrawal symptoms but not the entire addiction itself.
Treating meth addiction can also be a combination of drug infusion therapies and cognitive-behavioral interventions. Addicts who are sent into rehab are prescribed with drugs that treat the symptoms of addiction. They are enrolled into programs that involve individual and group counseling, which may help minimize aggressive behaviors and assist addicts to their full recovery.
This is an example of a cognitive-behavioral intervention that combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, and a 12-step support to help addicts forget the addictive effects of drugs. The program also includes drug testing and encouragement for teens to get involved into anti-drug activities.
Contingency Management Intervention
This is another meth addiction treatment that provides incentives for people who volunteer to enroll into a special treatment and maintain drug abstinence. As a type of comprehensive behavioral intervention, it focuses on assisting addicts recover from mental illness. In this method, when patients fail to adhere to the program’s rules and regulation, they are eventually punished. However, when they show development, they are rewarded.
Modafinil is a Class IV scheduled drug by FDA but is approved to be used as treatment for mental disorders and deficiencies, such as ADHD. According to recent experiments, modafinil is also an effective drug to treat drug dependence by acting into the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.
Methamphetamine Addiction Facts
Many people have become addicted to methamphetamine although they did not intend to do it in the first place. According to records, over 1.5 million people who abused crystal meth for the first time got addicted to the drug because of its habit-forming effect.
The highest number of abusers is composed of children with age 12 and above. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse in 2009, 1.2 million Americans with age 12 and above admitted to have abused methamphetamine at least once in the year before the survey was conducted.
Despite the government’s heavy penalties on illicit production and distribution, meth has remained smuggled in the black market. The availability of methamphetamine also lures addicts to continue abusing the drug.
Methamphetamine has been classified as Schedule II in the United States through the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty. Due to methamphetamine’s addictive characteristics and the tendency of the youth to abuse the drug, it is currently considered as illegal in the United States and also in many countries around the globe.
The manufacture, production, sale, and distribution of methamphetamine are considered to be illegal and punishable by law. Anyone who buys over-the-counter drugs with amphetamine content will not also be permitted unless with a doctor’s prescription.
Methamphetamine Abuse among Teens
Children of 12 years old and above are very prone to meth addiction. According to the latest survey, children also make the largest number of meth abusers.
Although recent surveys show a decline in the number of teenagers abusing meth, the prevalence of meth abuse in some regions of United States has continued to be an ongoing issue. According to the latest survey, meth abuse has declined from 4.7 percent in 1999 to 1.6 in 2009. Crystal meth abuse among 10th graders has also decreased from 19.5 percent in the past years to only 14 percent in 2009.
Teenagers continue to abuse meth for a variety of reasons. According to the Idaho Meth Project on its Statewide Meth Use and Attitude Survey, 22 percent of teens believe that the drug can make them happy; 25 percent use drug for losing weight; 20 percent see no risk at all; while 45 percent admitted to abuse the drug because of peer pressure and some other factors brought by friends.
Drug Testing on Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine drug testing is a technical analysis of biological specimen done to detect the presence of methamphetamine metabolites in the person’s body. It can be done using the hair follicle, urine, blood, or oral fluid.
The most common drug test administered in the workplace and schools is the urine drug testing. When a person exhibits positive drug test results, it means that a person have recently used methamphetamine or some other drugs. By this, the person may be asked to explain the positivity. When a person is involved in any criminal assaults before the positive result, he may be subject for certain penalties.
Drug testing on methamphetamine helps authorities assess whether or not the person has recently used the drug. This is very helpful especially during forensic investigations. Parents can also administer methamphetamine drug testing through the use of methamphetamine drug test kits to ensure a drug-free family.
Detection period is the timeframe of how long the drugs can be detected in the biological sample. This may vary from the drugs abuse by the person. As for the LabCorp chart, the detection period depends on the drug class, amount and frequency of use, age, and overall health.
LabCorp is an S&P 500 company that gives the approximate detection period for the different substance according to test types. For methamphetamine urine drug test, detection period is 3 to 5 days; hair follicle test is up to 90 days; while blood and oral fluid is within 12 hours.
Saliva Drug Test
Saliva drug test uses saliva samples, which are obtained and tested through the saliva test kits. According to a study, there are positive reactions of methamphetamines that rest on the salivary duct, which makes saliva test an effective drug testing method. Saliva drug test is very useful for home use especially when parents suspect their kids to have abused meth. Saliva drug test is one of the easiest and most accessible drug tests for kids. Drug testing Cut-off level for meth using saliva test is 50 ng/ml.
Urine Drug Test
Urine drug test aims to detect the unchanged methamphetamine, which accounts 10 to 20 percent of the fluid secreted through urine. This is done by taking a urine sample from the subject and testing it through the use of urine drug test kits.
The cut-off level for the urine initial test is 500 ng/ml while confirmatory test, which is done through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, is 250 ng/ml.
Hair Follicle Test
Hair follicle test is done by obtaining a hair strand from the subject. The sample is then tested through the hair follicle test kits by detecting the meth metabolite, which is absorbed by the hair form the bloodstream.
The drug cut-off level for methamphetamine using the hair follicle test is 300 ng/ml.