Crystal meth

Crystal meth is a very powerful and addictive stimulant that looks like crystallised bits of glass. It’s big in America but is fast gaining popularity over here. But what is meth? And how dangerous is it, really?

boy smoking meth

Spot the wasted friend...

What is crystal meth?

Crystal meth is a strong stimulant and type of amphetamine. Meth is highly addictive. It makes people pick their skin off. Not to mention the violent hallucinations, paranoia and teeth-loss.

Its chemical name is ‘methamphetamine’, but it’s commonly called crystal meth because it comes in white crystals, or sometimes white powder. It’s pretty easy for wannabe scientists/dealers to cook up in makeshift laboratories, but is often cut with all kinds of crap too.

How do you take crystal meth?

Crystal meth is usually smoked in a similar way to crack cocaine. It can also be swallowed, snorted or injected.

Why do people take crystal meth?

  • It makes you more alert, so much so that you don’t sleep for ages
  • People feel mild happiness to total and complete euphoria
  • You want to have sex loads, and it lowers all your inhibitions, so you’re confident enough to go chase the sex
  • It makes you really talkative and sociable… and did we mention talkative? Like, you literally can’t stop talking… on and on… for ages….

What are the bad side effects of taking crystal?


  • A burning feeling in your nose if you snort
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure, and a soaring temperature
  • Becoming short of breath and breathing fast
  • A crazy sleeping pattern, with hallucinations from lack of sleep
  • Users often pick at their skin, past the point of bleeding, as crystal meth causes itching and the sensation of insects crawling on the skin
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea


Meth can really mess with your long-term health. Just google ‘before and after meth’ pictures if you don’t believe us. Long-term problems include:

  • You lose lots of weight and can become severely malnourished, this makes your skin sallow and gaunt
  • Really bad tooth decay – they basically rot and fall out of your mouth
  • Itchy skin with red welts, people often pick at these which can cause infections
  • Kidney infections and problems with your liver
  • It irrevocably damages your immune system and metabolism
  • Smoking it can damage your lungs
  • Snorting it can hurt your nose

How long does it take to have an effect?

If you smoke or snort crystal meth the effects come on immediately and last six to eight hours. If you swallow it, it takes up to half an hour to kick-in, and then you’ll feel the effects for 12 hours.

What’s the comedown like?

It’s pretty gnarly. Your inability to sleep may really get to you after a while. It’s common to feel edgy and paranoid, and some people get irritable, violent, depressed, and even suicidal. More than anything, you have to fight the urge to just take more meth to make it all go away.

Is crystal meth addictive?

Meth is really addictive. You build up a tolerance to it so you need to take more every time to get the same effect.

Smoking or injecting meth makes it more addictive as it enters your blood stream more quickly.

Is it OK to mix meth with alcohol?

No, as both crystal meth and alcohol put pressure on your heart, so together they can kill you. Taking meth with other drugs, like cocaine, is potentially fatal too.

Is it OK to take crystal meth with antidepressants?

No, especially antidepressants that contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as this can create a really dangerous reaction in the body.

Can crystal meth cause mental health problems?

If you use a lot of meth, over a long period of time, you can develop pretty serious psychosis, similar to schizophrenia. You can suffer from horrifying hallucinations and paranoia, and may even get violent.

If you have schizophrenic tendencies there are real dangers – even the mildest use of crystal meth could push you over the edge.

Can you overdose on meth?

Yes. An overdose can damage your liver, intestines and kidney. It can cause a stroke or put you in a coma. And, yep, you can OD and actually die on meth too.

How can I reduce the risks if I take meth?

  • Only take a little to begin with. You can never tell how pure a batch is (and therefore what it will do to you) until you’ve had some.
  • If you’re using crystal meth over long periods of time you’re advised to take multi-vitamin and calcium supplements, as well as keeping a check on your body weight.
  • Avoid injecting crystal meth. This can damage your body and sharing needles can pass on diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis.
  • If meth gets you feeling all aroused, use a condom
  • Don’t take meth if you’re on retroviral drugs, i.e. for HIV. Meth can stop them working properly.

What if I get caught with crystal meth?

It’s a class A drug, so the maximum sentence is seven years and a fine for possession. For more information on being caught with drugs, read our article here.

Next Steps

  • Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


drugs a-z


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of boy smoking meth by Shutterstock