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Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug that can quickly destroy a user's life. What do you do if you find out your child is taking crystal meth, and what are the tell-tale signs?

Ice, crank, glass, or just crystal meth — whatever you want to call it, this form of methamphetamine is one of the most popular and dangerous street drugs out there today. It's so addictive that many get hooked the first time they try it. 

What can you do to help if your child or someone else who is near and dear to you is a meth addict? What are the signs and symptoms you should watch out for if you suspect your child is using crystal meth?

What Is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is just one form of methamphetamine (meth, speed, crank, chalk), a synthetic substance that works on the central nervous system. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, and used in a wide variety of other ways including orally and as a suppository. 

Meth initially acts as a stimulant that increases the user's energy, keeps them awake for long periods of time, and suppresses feelings of hunger. A powerful aphrodisiac and euphoriant, meth is popular as a recreational drug among young people who love to party. 

The powerful high that comes with crystal meth also, unfortunately, wears off really quickly, leaving users vulnerable to feelings of severe depression that can only be relieved by another round of the drug.

The long-term effects that can come with meth are enough to make anyone with an addicted loved-one depression, as well — brain damage, psychosis, an increased risk of heart attack, loss of teeth, and in the case of overdose lung, kidney and gastrointestinal damage, coma and death. 

The routine side effects that come with meth don't sound much more pleasant: nausea and diarrhea, tremors, clenching of the jaw, loss of appetite, paranoia, agitation, violence, confusion, hypertension and increased heart rate, and constriction of the arteries.

Meth causes users to lose natural inhibitions, often leading to risky sexual behavior. Women who are using and breastfeeding will pass the drug onto babies, while babies born to women who were using during pregnancy can have acute physical and mental disabilities and suffer from lack of cognitive growth. 

Meth Ingredients And How To Spot A Meth Lab

While different forms of methamphetamine, including crystal meth, are highly addictive and popular as recreational drugs, methamphetamine is also an FDA approved drug used to treat obesity caused by factors outside a patient's control, and sometimes even ADHD. In this case, the drug appears under the name Desoxyn, and extreme caution should be applied by prescribing physicians.

Illegal meth labs where street versions of methamphetamine are created can appear anywhere, including often in family homes. Some of the things used in a meth lab are acetone, methanol, ammonia, ether, hydraulic acid, freon, muriatic acid, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and paint thinners.

Many of these products can easily be obtained by anyone. They are also highly flammable, and those who work in the labs are at great risk of causing a massive explosion from the combination of these chemicals. Locations that harbor meth labs tend to have the following tell-tale signs: 

  • Strange chemical odors
  • Covered windows to prevent people from spotting the lab
  • Unusual ventilation measures
  • Security measures
  • Excessive trash, including chemicals
  • Paranoid behavior in occupants, and frequent visitors
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