You’ll find important information here on meth’s history, its abuse, and its potential for treatment. Crystal meth is a synthetic drug that’s easily produced, widely available, and extremely addictive. Help and hope are available for those who suffer from addiction, as well as those who care for someone who is struggling to break the grip of crystal meth.

THE PROBLEM FAQs: Who's abusing Crystal Meth?

Q. When did meth become an abused drug?

A: First produced in Asia, crystal meth is a relatively new drug, only surfacing in the U.S. in the early 1990s. It was cheap, easy to produce, and widely available. The "rush" was reported to be extremely pleasurable, and could last as long as eight hours. Unfortunately, the tendency to develop tolerance to crystal happens quickly, so addicts need to use more of the drug to maintain the euphoric feeling.

Q. Who uses crystal meth?

A: The variety of users is surprising. Drug experts report that crystal is used equally by males and females, making it the first "gender neutral" drug. Researchers have defined these groups as the largest users of crystal:

- Athletes and bodybuilders (for the stamina it provides)

- Students of high school and college age (it's sometimes called the 'test taking drug' for its effects of alertness and stimulation)

- Blue collar workers and unemployed people in their 20s and 30s: (it stimulates workers in routine or highly physical jobs, providing euphoria at low cost)

- Poor people in rural areas and small towns (it is cheaper and more easily available than cocaine)

- Teenage girls and young women (as an anorexant, it's an effective-albeit dangerous-weight loss tool)

- Gay men (in dance clubs, it allows revelers to party longer, and it can also be a sexual stimulant)

Q. Can you overdose on crystal meth?

A: Yes, overdoses are relatively common. Although it can happen on the first use of the drug, it more frequently affects long-term users. The drug's euphoric effect is partly a result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as constriction of blood vessels throughout the body. When an addict overdoses on crystal meth, the primary cause of death is usually rapid onset of kidney failure or collapse of the circulatory system.

Q. What are the symptoms of crystal meth use?

A: Increased energy and alertness, euphoria, excessive talking and movement, heightened sexuality, weight loss, moodiness, irritability, aggressiveness, itching and rashes on skin, false sense of confidence and power, panic, suspicion and paranoia.

Q. What are the effects of long-term use?

A: Depression, psychosis, erectile dysfunction, damage to kidneys, lungs and liver, potential brain damage, hallucinations, tooth loss, staph infections, immune system damage, formication (a sensation that bugs are crawling under the skin, resulting in compulsive scratching and picking at sores).