The Dangerous Side-Effects of Tik
Tik or, crystal methamphetamine is a synthetic psychostimulant, it can be injected, snorted or smoked. It is commonly referred to as Tik, Crystal, Ice and Glass. This is because it resembles glass/crystal shards. The name “tik” came from the sound the crystal meth makes as it heats up. Tik is classed as a stimulant, it boosts mood, increases alertness, and energy, offering a feeling of euphoria. Crystal meth has become a popular “party drug”, but because of its low cost and intense high it creates dependence which leads to serious addiction issues.
Scientists first began developing amphetamine-type stimulants, similar to tik, as early as 1885 when a Japanese chemist studying in Germany, managed to isolate and characterise the active ingredient in the Ephedra plant as ephedrine. Ephedra has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine primarily to treat asthma, bronchitis, and hay fever. Methamphetamine remained difficult to reproduce until 1919, when another Japanese chemist, Akira Ogata, streamlined the process by adding phosphorus and iodine to reduce the ephedrine into a crystallized form, thereby creating the world’s first crystal meth.
It is a potent and highly addictive drug that acts on the central nervous system, where it causes the release of dopamine, a substance which acts as a stimulant and euphoric drug. Pharmaceutical methamphetamine is still available legally but it is only rarely prescribed to treat narcolepsy, attention deficit, hyper activity disorder (ADHD) and severe obesity. Meth is readily available and its use has spread rapidly across South Africa, especially in the Western Cape, where it is made in illicit laboratories using inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. Recent research reported that 42% of drug users within the Western Cape used crystal meth as their primary, or preferred drug, with a high prevalence use amongst adolescents.
The physical effects of crystal meth are;
- Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Teeth grinding
- Dry skin
- Pale appearance
- Long term users often suffer with sores on the face and what is termed “meth mouth”. Poor dental hygiene, dry mouth and teeth grinding result in accelerated tooth decay and loos of teeth.
Overdose can occur with any quantity of drug used, and the user is always at risk. An overdose wil result in seizures, an increase in body temperature, respiratory failure, coma, and/or death.
The psychological effects of tik/crystal meth can be severe and long lasting, some of these effects are:
- Repetitive obsessive behaviour and repetitive non-goal driven activity
- Over confidence
- Magnetic resonance studies conducted on users of tik have shown evidence of neurodegeneration
Sustained use of the drug affects the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure. Long-term meth use can cause a decrease in the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, making it difficult for the individual to experience pleasure (a condition known as anhedonia) as well as reduced levels of motivation. It is thus recommended that withdrawal from the drug be conducted under the care of trained medical professionals together with experienced, trained, addiction counsellors.
If you or a loved one need assistance with an addiction to crystal meth – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it is a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
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