What is Meth?
Methamphetamine, also known as “speed,” “crank,” “crystal,” or “ice” is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. It can be snorted, smoked, injected or ingested by mouth. The color and texture of meth can vary; most commonly it is usually white or slightly yellow in a crystal-like powder or rock-like chunks.

What are Meth's effects?

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. Use results in increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, elevated temperature and wakefulness. These effects can last 8 – 24 hours.

Where does Meth come from?

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, methamphetamine was usually produced in small to medium quantities in local clandestine laboratories. These "labs" were found in homes, garages, storage units, apartments, and motel rooms. Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, along with new policy that restricts ingredients, San Diego County today has very few meth labs. However, now most of the local available methamphetamine is linked to the sophisticated drug manufacturing and distribution operations of Mexican drug cartels.

Why is Meth addictive?
Meth has been called a “double whammy” drug. When using methamphetamine, the user feels energetic and powerful, but a “crash” inevitably follows the “high”. To avoid or counteract the crash, the user takes more meth. Tolerance develops rapidly, often leading to addiction in a relatively short time. People who use meth often use other substances, including alcohol and heroin.

What uses Meth?
Meth is used in a variety of age groups, lifestyles and neighborhoods. Meth’s reputation for increasing energy, alertness and sexuality is a magnet for many types of people, including curious teens, college students, truck drivers and shift workers, and older adults. Girls and women are drawn to meth for these features and as a weight loss tool.

Escondido Meth User
“I look back at pictures now and see that I was covered with pimples. “Speed bumps” my friends called them. My skin was gray. I looked haggard. My hair was thin. I hadn’t slept in a really, long time, maybe a week so I had big, black bags underneath my eyes. Crystal can do a lot of damage in seven months.” - 19-years old

Effects of Meth on an Individual

Meth use can cause heart palpitations, nausea, damage to blood vessels in the brain, shortness of breath, mental confusion, malnutrition, anorexia, severe anxiety and depression. A more severe manifestation of chronic toxicity is a state of paranoia closely resembling paranoid schizophrenia. Psychotic symptoms include visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and delusions of parasites and bugs in the skin. Continued use may lead to permanent damage to the brain or death. Meth use affects the heart and cardiovascular system. Prolonged use of meth can lead to heart disease and heart failure.

Meth use has been closely linked to teen suicide. Users who inject meth and share needles risk exposing themselves to the AIDS virus and passing it to others.

Effects of Meth on the Community
Meth labs are toxic and affect everyone’s environment. For each pound of finished methamphetamine, seven pounds of waste is produced. Ingredients include substances which can cause chemical burns or can easily ignite. Clean up of labs is dangerous and very expensive. Keep in mind that the only lab sites that get cleaned up are the ones that are found.

Since labs have largely moved south of the border, the effects on community are more evident on area neighborhoods where dealing and use occur. Property crimes are linked to meth use. Harding and unsightly debris are also associated with homes where meth use and dealing are the norm.

Effects of Meth on Family

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In 1995, when a meth user stole a National Guard tank and went on a dramatic rampage in the Kearny Mesa area, meth problems grabbed San Diego's attention and helped to stir community action.

© 2018 San Diego County Methamphetamine Strike Force