Breaking Down Meth Street NamesAnna Ciulla
Methamphetamine, commonly known on the street as “crystal meth,” or “meth,” is experiencing a surge in popularity throughout the nation. Meth is designated a Schedule 11 Substance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a high potential for addiction and abuse and is subject to the same severe legal penalties for trafficking and possession as cocaine and other illicit street drugs. The relatively inexpensive drug produces an immediate, potent high that makes it particularly attractive—especially to physically and psychologically vulnerable young adults. Meth’s potency is such that even casual recreational use can cause a variety of social and health-related problems, not only for the individual falling victim to its addictive charms, but for their family and friends.
Meth is a synthetic psychostimulant that is manufactured in underground laboratories by “street chemists” domestically and abroad. The drug is comprised of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine—common ingredients found in cold medicine. However, unscrupulous dealers frequently lace the drug with toxic industrial chemicals and cheap poisons to maximize profit. As a result, unsuspecting user’s regularly ingest paint thinner, acetone, drain cleaner, iodine crystals, battery acid and lithium, none of which are intended for human consumption, and all of which have devastating long-term effects. To put the frightening scale of meth abuse into proper proportion, a government survey found that in 2008, approximately 13 million Americans (mostly young adults) reported using meth, with 529,000 becoming chronic users.
HOW METH CAUSES ADDICTION
Like other naturally occurring and synthetic drugs, meth artificially increases dopamine levels in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Dopamine is a primary neurotransmitter responsible for body movement, motivation and naturally derived pleasures (those arising from eating, exercise, sex etc.) The flood of dopamine unleashed by meth is so pleasurable that it is often described by users as a “euphoric rush.” In fact, meth is considered three times as powerful as cocaine in terms of its effect on dopamine, and those who experience it even once are usually hooked into an addictive cycle.
Over time, meth’s manipulation of dopamine hijacks brain chemistry, resulting in an insatiable need to use greater quantities of the drug in more frequent doses in order to replicate the initial euphoria. However, as many people recovering from meth addiction can attest, this attempt to recreate the original magic is doomed to failure. The meth-altered brain is characterized by dangerous impulsivity and instability, largely due to the depletion of dopamine and other critical brain chemicals that occur with continued use. Short and long-term effects of the drug may include:
- Tooth decay
- Severe weight loss
- Oral abscesses, sores and lesions
- Damaged nasal passages
- Tooth decay “meth mouth”
STREET VARIETIES AND NICKNAMES
Methamphetamine is linked to an entire criminal subculture. To a certain extent, the drug enjoys a glamorized, mysterious reputation reminiscent of cocaine in the 1970s. Although meth’s exact chemical composition remains shrouded in mist, an entire generation of young, street-savvy users are wise to its numerous varieties and code names. Methamphetamine is frequently sold on the black market as a bitter white powder or as crystalized rocks that are shiny and clear. Sometimes is appears as white pills or cross-variations of powder and rock form and is taken though swallowing, snorting, injecting or smoking. Methamphetamine enjoys an unusually long list of monikers including:
- Biker’s coffee
- Chicken feed
- Stove Top
- Yellow Barn
When meth appears in smoke-able form, it is usually identified as Hanyak, Hot Ice, Cristy, Kaksonjae, Quartz, LA Glass or Batu. Other popular variations of the drug include a pink-tinted rock powder called Soap Dope, a yellowish mix called Lemon Drop, and a green-hued delight known as Christmas Tree (or Holiday Meth). Methamphetamine can be chemically volatile and explosive when combined with other recreational or hard-core drugs. For this reason, it is rarely done. However, a few popular combinations include:
- Croak—cocaine and meth
- Hugs and Kisses—MDMA and meth
- Mexican Speed Balls—crack and meth
- Biker’s Coffee—coffee and meth
Another extremely potent, unpredictable combination is known as The Five Way, and is comprised of meth, alcohol, Rohypnol, heroin and cocaine—a potentially deadly cocktail. Other popular street terms describe how meth is taken, where it is made and the type of person, or people using it. These include, but are not limited to:
- Box Labs—small, portable labs used to produce cheap meth
- Bathtub Crank—low quality, undesirable meth
- Hot Rolling—the practice of liquefying meth for inhalation through a dropper
- Meth Monster—a person who experiences a negative reaction to meth
- Getting Glassed—the practice of snorting meth to achieve a potent, immediate high
- Lithium Scabs—open (sometimes bleeding) sores caused by meth use
- Hot Railing—the practice of heating meth so that the vapor can be inhaled through a tube or bong
THE URGENCY OF TREATMENT
Methamphetamine is volatile, potentially deadly drug that requires early intervention and aggressive treatment. If you or someone you love is addicted to meth, call a substance abuse professional today. And remember, in the event of an overdose, call an ambulance immediately or seek treatment at your nearest hospital emergency room (ER).
For more about meth addiction and recovery, check out these related articles:
- “How to Minimize Shame in Your Addiction and Recovery”
- “Overcoming Addiction With Science Support Recovery is More Real than Ever”
- “The Science of Drug Addiction”
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction. Irreversible brain damage caused by methamphetamine: Persisting structural brain lesions. March, 2016.
Heart Lung and Circulation. The Cardiac Complications of Methamphetamine. April, 2016.
The Journal of Neuroscience. Structural Abnormalities in the Brains of Human Subjects Who Use Methamphetamine. June, 2004.
The American Journal of Psychiatry. Methamphetamine Use and Schizophrenia: A Population-Based Cohort Study in California. April, 2012.