The Razor’s Edge, by Madeleine Richey

If by looking at the title of this article, you thought it would be about something nice, pretty, and harmless, you wouldn’t be alone, but crystal is one of the many names for methamphetamine, a deadly drug.  It goes by crystal, glass, ice, speed, poor man’s coke, go, amp, chalk, crank, zip, and countless other names. But the problem with methamphetamine, probably most commonly referred to as ‘meth,’ is far different from that of other drugs, because meth, instead of having to seek out a dealer and buy, you can make.

The effects of meth are destructive to the human mind and body. The use of the drug can cause hyperactivity (mania), headache, irregular heartbeat, convulsions, diarrhea, high or low blood pressure, and almost any other unpleasant physical symptom you can imagine. Psychologically, it is equally as damaging, and may cause, but is not limited to: hallucinations (including delusions of power, invincibility, and increased confidence without cause); anorexia; paranoia; mania; and anxious, repetitive pulling of hair or picking at skin. Meth is highly addictive, and can be insufflated (snorted through the nose); ingested (by swallowing); injected intravenously, which produces the fastest high; smoked; or inserted by suppository (which you may look up in the dictionary if you are so inclined).

Stimulating the central nervous system, meth is an odorless, bitter tasting, white, crystalline powder. It works by causing an increase in release of dopamine, which, if you remember from previous articles, is often associated with reward-driven learning and is commonly affected by highly addictive drugs. The rush or ‘high’ users experience after snorting or injecting the drug is caused by the fast release of large amounts of  dopamine, associating the taking of the drug with pleasure (that is where the reward-driven learning comes into play.)

Prolonged use of meth leads to impaired motor skills, and some recent studies have shown that the chronic use may cause severe damage to the portions of the brain that deal with emotions. Other dangers include the spread of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and other infectious diseases through the use of infected needles that are often passed from user to user. Meth is made from chemicals and over the counter drugs that can be bought by almost anyone at the local Wal-Mart or drug store. As for exactly what ingredients are used and how it is made, I think that is better left unsaid. The less that information is readily available, the better. Methamphetamine, though it may look like pretty crystal, is far more dangerous than its appearance would lead you to believe. Though it is most commonly abused by addicts, it is occasionally prescribed by doctors, but in much smaller amounts than taken by drug users. And sadly, the chemicals, which are often stored in the fridge, can leak into food and be unwittingly served in fatal doses to unsuspecting victims.

Madeleine, 16, says: “I want to help people and I want to tell stories, especially the stories of people who don’t have a voice of their own. Some of them have faces we recognize–the faces of family and friends, maybe even the face we see when we look in the mirror. I want to share with you the information I have about all these things, so that maybe you can recognize them and walk away from danger or help out a friend who doesn’t see it or saw it too late.” Visit her blog at

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