Crystal Meth

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Street names

Street names for drugs can vary around the country – meth, crystal, ice, glass, Tina, Christine, yaba, yaa baa, Nazi speed, mad pills.


Methamphetamine is a chemically altered version of amphetamine (speed). It is a crystal-like powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. When the powder flakes off the rock, the shards look like glass, which is another nickname for meth.

Meth is usually white or slightly yellow, depending on the purity.

Methamphetamine can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked.

Meth was synthesised in 1918 and was later distributed by the Nazis, who believed that it would make the ideal keep-awake pill for the armed forces (other countries used it too). It certainly kept soldiers battle-ready, but it took days for them to get over the exhaustion it caused. Meth provides a long, fierce high, with huge amounts of energy.

Probably the biggest cultural reference to methamphetamine is the entire television series ‘Breaking Bad’, where the main characters produce and sell methamphetamine.


Prices can vary from region to region. The prices given here are an average of street prices reported from 20 different parts of England.

A half a gram of crystal meth is £25 and £15 for one hit on the street.

Paraphernalia / what to look out for

  • Folder wraps of paper oblong in shape and a bit bigger than a postage stamp, possibly with amphetamine residue (usually white powder) on it.
  • Tablets, powders, needles and syringes.

Short-term indicators

Immediately after smoking or injection, the user experiences an intense sensation, called a "rush" or "flash" that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Snorting or swallowing meth produces euphoria – a high, but not a rush. After the initial "rush" there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behaviour. Other possible immediate effects include increased wakefulness and insomnia, decreased appetite, irritability/aggression, anxiety, nervousness, convulsions and heart attack.

  • The user’s breathing and heart rate speeds up, their pupils widen, and appetite lessens.
  • Helps concentration for a short while, may give the user confidence and energy; may make them talkative, grind their teeth; and will keep them alert and awake. The effects of a single average dose last about three to four hours. It can cause heart palpitations, make the user go to the toilet a lot, and feel anxious and edgy.
  • During a comedown, users can feel tired and yet unable to sleep.
  • Users can also feel hungry, aggressive, perhaps with mood swings.

Possible longer-term indicators

  • Loss of appetite for food.
  • The user can experience severe mood swings, becoming very anxious, jumpy and even depressed to overly excited or hysterical
  • Users also report teeth problems – a result of the regular grinding associated with longer-term use.

Harm reduction

Methamphetamine is addictive, and users can develop a tolerance quickly, needing larger amounts to get high. In some cases, users forego food and sleep and take more meth every few hours for days, ‘binging’ until they run out of the drug or become too disorganized to continue. Chronic use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behaviour (such as compulsively cleaning, grooming or disassembling and assembling objects), and delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin.

Users can obsessively scratch their skin to get rid of these imagined insects.
Long-term use, high dosages, or both can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis (often exhibited as violent, aggressive behaviour). This violent, aggressive behaviour is usually coupled with extreme paranoia. Methamphetamine use can also cause strokes and death.

  • Avoid taking with other stimulants.
  • Avoid taking speed if anti-depressants are also being taken; the combination with some types has killed some speed users by sending their blood pressure up very high.
  • Avoid taking speed in pregnancy – medical research suggests that amphetamines can damage an unborn baby.
  • Avoid keeping on taking speed to put off the come down – there has to be a come down at some time and the longer it is left, the worse it will be.
  • Avoid injecting speed – speed is often cut with stuff like flour, chalk or paracetamol, which can clot the blood and cause a lot of damage.
  • Avoid increasing the amount of speed taken – if more is needed to get the same effect, take a break from it until it is possible to get back to the first effect from the original amount.
  • Make sure plenty of rest and food is taken after a session on speed. A sensible dose of vitamins and calcium (taken orally – not injected) may help too.

Legal status

Methamphetamine – often referred to as crystal meth – was reclassified as a Class A drug on 18th January 2007. It is illegal to have, give away or sell.
As a Class A drug, possession can get you up to seven years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Sources:National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Administration and