What Is Crystal Meth?

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help with Addiction Treatment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Crystal meth is the solid, rock-like form of methamphetamine (meth), a highly addictive stimulant most often found illicitly. Crystal meth is usually smoked, but it can be ground into powder and snorted or injected. Any method of ingesting crystal meth is dangerous and can lead to dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one is using crystal meth or other drugs for recreational purposes, you are urged to seek professional treatment to minimize the damage being done to your brain, body, and life.

At Guardian Recovery, we offer comprehensive rehab programs featuring a wide variety of evidence-based services that can effectively treat dependencies on meth and other substances. Meth addiction is considered to be a chronic brain disease that, although incurable, can be treated through abstinence and long-term recovery. (1) Contact us today to learn more about our individualized treatment plans and full continuum of care.

Start Healing Today!

Choose recovery and take control of your life, it’s the path to a brighter future filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment.

The Scientific Name & Chemical Structure of Crystal Meth

The scientific name for crystal meth is methamphetamine hydrochloride (HCL), which is derived from N-methylamphetamine. Meth is a member of the phenethylamine family, which includes a range of substances that may be stimulants, entactogens (e.g., MDMA), or hallucinogens. (2)(3)

The chemical structure of crystal meth includes a methyl group (-CH3) attached to the nitrogen atom, which makes it more potent and longer-lasting than other amphetamines. The chemical formula for crystal meth is C10H15N, indicating that the molecule consists of 10 carbon atoms, 15 hydrogen atoms, and a single nitrogen atom.

How Crystal Meth Is Manufactured

Crystal meth is typically synthesized from common household and industrial chemicals using a variety of methods. The most common approach involves using ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which are found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, as the initial ingredient. The production process involves several steps and can be dangerous due to the potential for fires, explosions, and exposure to hazardous chemicals. (4)

Possible Steps in the Manufacturing Process Include:

  • Acquiring the necessary chemicals, which can be obtained from various sources.
  • Extracting ephedrine or pseudoephedrine from cold and allergy medications using solvents.
  • Chemically converting ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine, which can be achieved using a variety of reagents.
  • Purifying crude methamphetamine using solvents, such as acetone or ether, to remove impurities.
  • Crystallizing methamphetamine by evaporating the solvent.

Administration Methods in Crystal Meth Use

Crystal meth can be ingested in a few different ways, some of which are much less common than others.

Methods of Ingesting Meth Include:

  • Smoking—The most common method of using crystal meth is smoking, typically heated using a pipe or makeshift apparatus and inhaled.
  • Injection—Although less common and particularly dangerous, injection can be accomplished by crushing crystal meth into powder, diluting it with water, and placing it in a syringe.
  • Snorting—When crushed, the resulting powder can be snorted through the nose. This can cause significant and even permanent damage to the nasal tissues.

Swallowing—It is possible to swallow meth in pill form.

How Addictive Is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth has a high potential for addiction due to the way it affects the brain’s reward system. It increases the release of dopamine, a neurochemical linked to pleasure and reward. (5) This spike of dopamine encourages further drug use, as it induces an intense rush of euphoria, energy, and increased alertness that can persist for several hours. This high is often followed by a crash, which often leaves users feeling fatigued, depressed, and irritable. To sustain the high and desirable effects, users may continue to use the drug in a binge pattern, ultimately leading to dependence.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Crystal meth withdrawal can be a physically and emotionally challenging and unpleasant process. The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the individual’s history of use, the amount and frequency of use, and other factors, such as underlying health conditions. Medical detox is typically advised for withdrawal because clinical supervision and medications can help with the individual’s safety and comfort.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Intense drug cravings.
  • Irritability and anxiety.
  • Depression and suicidal ideations.
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Paranoia, delusions, and  hallucinations.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • Tremors and shakiness.

Complimentary Insurance Check
Find Out Today!

"*" indicates required fields

Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Crystal Meth Use: Common Side Effects

Crystal meth can have a range of mild-to-severe side effects on both the body and mind. Like withdrawal symptoms, these effects vary depending on the amount and regularity of use, the person’s overall health status, and other factors.

Physical Side Effects Include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Hyperthermia or high body temperature.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Tremors and muscle twitches.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Headaches.

Psychological & Behavioral Side Effects Include:

  • Anxiety and restlessness.
  • Psychosis, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making.
  • Aggressive or violent behavior.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Impaired cognition.

Physical Dangers & Risks

There are many physical health risks associated with meth use, which can be severe, long-lasting, or even fatal.

Meth Use Physical Health Dangers May Include:

  • Severe cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack or stroke.
  • Respiratory problems, including lung damage and chronic cough.
  • Liver and kidney damage and failure.
  • Neurological problems, such as memory loss, cognitive issues, and motor dysfunction.
  • Overdose, typically caused by cardiovascular problems or hyperthermia.

Long-Term Effects Include:

  • Addiction and dependence.
  • Cognitive impairment and memory loss.
  • Chronic health problems, such as heart disease and lung damage.
  • Dental deterioration.
  • Skin sores and infections.
  • Liver and kidney damage.

Crystal Meth Effects on the Brain Include:

  • Increased dopamine release, leading to feelings of euphoria and increased energy.
  • Altered brain structure and function, particularly in areas associated with reward, motivation, and decision-making.
  • Neurotoxicity, leading to damaged nerve cells in the brain.
  • Increased risk of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.

The Risk of Crystal Meth Overdose

A meth overdose usually occurs when a person ingests more of the drug than their body can handle, but there are risk factors that can contribute to an overdose.

Meth Overdose Risk Factors Include:

  • Taking an excessively high dose.
  • Repeated use over a short period.
  • Combining substances, such as opioids, alcohol, or benzodiazepines.
  • Pre-existing health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and liver disease.
  • Administration method, especially injection.

Crystal meth overdose symptoms can include agitation, chest pain, high body temperature, seizures, and loss of consciousness. An overdose is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention, so it’s vital to seek emergency care right away if you suspect you or someone else is overdosing on meth.

Our Locations 

Our Facilities & Teams Transform Lives

Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Contact Us Today To Learn More

Meth addiction can be a devastating condition that wreaks havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it. Fortunately, breaking free from active use can stop and even help reverse some of the damage that’s been done to one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Countless individuals have conquered addictions to meth, other drugs, and alcohol, and with the right treatment, we believe recovery is possible for anyone.

At Guardian Recovery, we offer individuals a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more about our streamlined admissions and various levels of care. Our integrated programs provide medical detox services, behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and more. If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, contact us today.

SELF-ASSESSMENT:

Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

(1)https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun01/sp (2)https://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?ID=C537462&Mask=4 (3)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.863088/full (4)https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/healthyenvironments/healthyneighborhoods/clandestinedruglabs/pages/chemicals.aspx (5)https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017291

Get Local Help

Helpful, Recovery
Resources

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Picture of Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author
Guardian Recovery

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Contact Alumni Services Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing after coming to one of our facilities.

Your Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Stay in touch ALUMNI

Join our alumni newsletter to get up to date information on events, news, and more.

Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Personalize Your Experience

Allow us to guide you to the information your looking for.

Begin HEALING Today

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.