Appearance
The Law
Common Slang Terms
Methods of Use
How it is Sold
Effects
Harm
Signs of Use

 

 

METHAMPHETAMINE INFORMATION

INTRODUCTION

The following information is designed to give you an overview of methamphetamine in New Zealand. We've tried to explain things in an easy-to-understand way without getting too technical.

APPEARANCE

Methamphetamine is normally found in crystal or powdered form. It can also be a pill or oil. Its colour varies from white to off-white, yellow, brown or pink depending on the manufacturing process, skill of the cook, impurities and cutting agents used.

These photos show different varieties of methamphetamine. Ice is shown in the bottom photo on the far right.

THE LAW

Methamphetamine is a Class A controlled drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Possession of meth has a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and a $1000 fine.

Methamphetamine "dealing offences", (such as manufacturing meth, possession for supply or selling meth) are punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

COMMON SLANG TERMS

There are many different slang terms for drugs. The most commonly used names for methamphetamine are...

  • Crank.
  • Go.
  • Goey.
  • Go Fast.
  • Meth.
  • Speed.

High purity methamphetamine is commonly known as...

  • P.
  • Pure.
  • The Burn
  • Fries
  • Crystal Meth
  • Ice
Smoking P is commonly known as "Having a burn".

P is manufactured locally and Ice is imported. The street-level purity of meth prior to the arrival of P in 1999 was often around 3 to 5 %. These days, P normally ranges from 60% to almost 80% pure. The purity of Ice can be as high as 95%.

METHODS OF USE

Methamphetamine can be used a number of ways, including...

  • Snorting.
  • Smoking - using pipes, light-bulbs or tinfoil.
  • Injecting.
  • Drinking by adding it to a liquid, such as a glass of water or a cup of coffee.
  • Swallowing meth wrapped in cigarette papers. This is known as "Bombing".

  1. Crystal Meth is placed in a glass pipe which is heated.
  2. The meth turns into a liquid and starts to smoke
  3. The user inhales the smoke.
  4. Any remaining meth re-crystallises when the heat source is removed. This may be reused.

HOW IT'S SOLD

Methamphetamine is commonly sold in standard weights known as "points", "grams" and "ounces".

POINTS

A point normally contains anywhere from 1/10th to 1/30th of a gram and usually costs $100. Points are also known as "Dots", "P's" or "Spot bags".

Point bags are small plastic bags that measure approximately 2.5cm x 3.5cm. They come in a wide range of patterns. The point bags on the top left contain methamphetamine and the other bags shown are empty.

GRAMS

One gram of "pure" meth currently costs anywhere from $600 to $1200. P usually costs from $600 to $1000 per gram and Ice costs from $800 to $1200.

Grams are sometimes known as "little ones", "G's" or G bags".

OUNCES

An ounce is common drug dealing weight with lots of slang names. The most common ones are...an "Oh", an "Oh Zee" or a "Round One". In the drug-world, an ounce weighs 28 grams.

An ounce of P generally costs anywhere from $10,000 to $16,000. Large deals can be in multiple ounces or kilos.

EFFECTS

SHORT TERM EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE...

  • Euphoria.
  • Increased energy.
  • An increased sense of well being.
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness.
  • Extended wakefulness.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Confusion.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased pulse rate.
  • Increased temperature.
  • Dryness of the mouth.

"THE CRASH"

Meth is a highly addictive drug. The danger of stimulant drugs is that they give you a very powerful high, but when it wears off, you don't feel that great, so you take more of the drug to get "high" again. Binge use is a feature of meth - it's common to use continuously for three or four days at a time. As the effects start to wear off, you've got the choice of using more meth or facing a "crash".

Many users describe the "crash" as being similar to a massive hangover from alcohol (without the splitting-head that you get from too much booze). You feel very flat and unhappy for days afterwards.

A "CRASH" MAY INCLUDE...

  • Deep depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches.
  • Aching joints.
  • Decreased energy.
  • Irritability and aggressiveness.
  • A strong desire to take the drug again.

Recovery time is often day-for day (or worse). In other words, if you go on a three-day binge, it's going to take you three or four days till you're feeling good again. Unlike an alcohol "hangover," there's an easy way to make a "crash" go away - you take some more! Before you know it, you're using all the time and it's taken over your life.

"Tolerance" commonly develops with regular use and you have to take more meth to get the same high.

Before Meth Use
18 Months Later
Photograph published with thanks to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. Copyright Faces of Meth ® 2005

HARM

Some people use meth without any problems, however many users experience some form of harm from their use. This can include psychological problems and physical problems. The most common harms reported by users are...  

PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

  • Anxiety.
  • Mood swings.
  • Short tempered.
  • Paranoia.
  • Depression.
  • Strange thoughts.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Violent behaviour.

PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Skin problems.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Teeth problems.
  • Memory lapses.
  • Weight loss.
  • Poor appetite.

(Source: Wilkins, Dr Chris et al., The Socio-Economic Impact of Amphetamine Type Stimulants in New Zealand. Massey University 2004,)

LONG TERM EFFECTS

Methamphetamine can cause many long-term problems. These can include...

  • Sleeping problems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Irregular heart beat.
  • Anxiety and irritability.
  • Kidney and lung disorders.
  • Liver damage.
  • Brain damage.
  • Chronic depression.
  • Mental disorders.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tooth loss and cavities.
  • Increased risk of strokes.

Meth lowers inhibitions and some users engage in high-risk sexual behaviours which may lead to HIV, Hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infections. Extended use can cause psychosis, where you think that everyone is out to get you or that you’re being followed or watched. Many users suffer from decreased emotional control and frustration, which can lead to aggressiveness and violence.

Chronic meth use can affect they way you think and how you feel long after you stop using. Meth can damage your brain. If you're recovering from heavy meth use you're likely to experience severe depression and anxiety for up to six months after you stop using. Meth floods your brain with a chemical called dopamine, which is produced naturally by a healthy brain. If you use lots of meth, your brain will stop producing dopamine normally. It can take many months for your brain function to return to normal when you stop using, and during that time, you won't feel that flash at all.

Before Meth Use
3 Months Later

Photograph published with thanks to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. Copyright Faces of Meth ® 2005

SIGNS OF METH USE

  • Dilated pupils.
  • Sweating.
  • Restlessness. 
  • Runny nose and nasal redness.
  • Sniffing.
  • Grinding of teeth.
  • Rapid tooth decay.
  • Excessive scratching.
  • Slow-healing sores.
  • Dry itchy skin.
  • Increased sweating and body odour.
  • Impaired speech.
  • Loss of co-ordination.
  • Weight loss.
  • Burn marks (from contact with hot meth-pipes or gas-lighters).
  • Many users will talk excessively and will talk over the top of others.
  • Violent or aggressive behaviour.

Most experienced drug-users are good at hiding signs of their drug use, but new users will often show many tell-tale signs.

For further information about meth, including where to go for help, please read our Harm Reduction page.

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