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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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February 2001

Q. I'm researching crystal meth for a school project. I was wondering, what exactly meth does to your body?

A. Meth or methamphetamine is from the amphetamine group of drugs. They are classified as being central nervous system (brain) stimulants. While something as common as coffee is also a stimulant, the amphetamines are extremely potent and dangerous drugs. They stimulate the brain, so users feel activated and energetic, but put themselves at extreme risk by using. The amphetamines cause strong stimulation to the heart, so marked rise in blood pressure and heart rate occur, which have caused strokes and cardiac arrest to occur.

Medically they have been used to treat obesity, as they do suppress appetite, and to treat attention deficit disorder. Other medications are now available for these problems that are far safer than amphetamines, so amphetamine prescriptions have largely been abandoned due to the safety issues. Long-term usage causes severe psychologic disturbance in the users, including acts of violence.





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