How can I make meth more pure

The appeal and risks of crystal meth

How dangerous and how common is crystal meth? Why is the synthetic stimulant consumed at all? And what are sensible measures for addiction prevention? These questions are currently being discussed by experts. It also becomes clear why crystal is an increasing problem in some regions.

Image: © / ra-photos

"The consumption of crystal meth in Europe is still limited to a few regions, in Germany this is the border region with the Czech Republic", Marlene Mortler, the drug commissioner of the federal government, describes the current situation. Reliable figures for the whole of Germany are not yet available. However, an increase in crystal consumption is actually observed in some federal states. “We have to watch developments very carefully and be vigilant. It is now the task to define joint steps in the further procedure, ”says Mortler.

Significant increase in certain areas

Experts from science, addiction prevention and addiction support have taken on this task. In addition to Saxony and Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt is one of the federal states in which crystal consumption has apparently increased in recent years: the police are increasingly securing bags of crystalline methamphetamine here. Consumers would seek help from advice centers more and more often. In the emergency rooms, doctors are increasingly confronted with crazy and sometimes violent, overdosed crystal users. At a symposium of the State Office for Addiction Issues in Saxony-Anhalt, the experts involved agreed: Crystal is becoming an increasingly larger problem, at least in some regions.

According to the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in Saxony-Anhalt, the number of offenses related to amphetamines has more than doubled there since 2009 from 1,000 annually to around 2,500 in 2013. In the counseling centers, the number of crystal consumers looked after rose from 276 in 2011 to 1,177 in 2013. In Saxony and Bavaria, too, there has been a similar development in recent years.

Dangers underestimated

"Methylamphetamines are two to three times more effective than conventional amphetamines," explains Dr. Hendrik Liedtke, Head of Emergency Medicine at the St. Elisabeth and St. Barbara Clinic in Halle. “The stuff leads to permanent arousal. So you are constantly electrified. It displaces our body's own neurotransmitters. ”According to Liedtke, the substance's interference with brain chemistry is not without consequences. "This creates the enormous risk that crystal users will develop serious psychiatric illnesses."

A central risk factor is the development of a dependency, which among other things results from a rapid development of tolerance. “One of the main problems is that there are unrestrained dose increases among crystal users. No heroin addict would do that! ”Said Liedtke. In addition, there is a legend among consumers that methamphetamine is actually not that bad. The negative effects of crystal could only be traced back to impure materials or unsanitary manufacturing conditions. Liedtke contradicts this vehemently: “This stuff is dangerous! And the purer it is, the more dangerous it is. "

Subjectively, however, the consumers feel sublime, problems are ignored. Your own performance seems to improve through the consumption of crystal. However, the body is put into a constant state of excitement. It is not uncommon for consumers to stay awake for four, five or more days at a time. At the same time, crystal is readily available and comparatively cheap, at least in the border region with the Czech Republic. Because the substance is so powerfully effective, amounts of around 10-40 milligrams are initially sufficient.

First consumption in a circle of friends

But how do the Crystal users come into contact with the substance? "This is not the nasty dealer who goes to school with a parcel," explains Jana Valentin from the DROBS specialist center for addiction prevention in Magdeburg. The entry into consumption usually happens in the circle of friends: “That's the nasty thing about it. A consumer thinks: 'That's someone I know. He doesn't want to poison me. He doesn't want to make me dependent either ‘. Naturally, the inhibition threshold sinks ”.

The mechanisms that lead to addictive consumption behavior are the same with Crystal as with other intoxicants: The consumption motive in particular poses a great danger. “If young people have the experience that they can use Crystal to cope with problems or to cope with everyday life, that is it to be viewed very critically, ”says Valentin. This "everyday doping" carries an enormous risk of addiction.

Diverse group of crystal users

Despite the dangers, crystal appears to be consumed in different groups of the population. “We used to assume that classic drug users were between 18 and 25 years old. Now we have 50, ”reports Stephan Schröder from the LKA Saxony-Anhalt. Crystal not only plays a role in very different age groups, but also in very different professional groups and even in the context of work or studies.

“Consumers have a very specific idea of ​​performance and efficiency,” explains Sascha Milin. He participated in a study by the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf in which consumers were interviewed. Around half of the Crystal users surveyed for the study also consumed the substance as part of their job. "For young consumers who have just started their training, performance meant partying all weekend, starting on Thursday, being the last on the dance floor - and then going to work on Monday with a corresponding dose."

Prevention through deterrence?

Crystal users do not necessarily correspond to the typical image of the broken heroin junkie - especially not at the beginning of their use. This prevailing image of crystal users was shaped not least by US campaigns such as the “Meth Project”. Their posters and TV spots are intended to illustrate the dramatic consequential damage caused by consumption. The German media are also happy to use corresponding representations in reports on the "horror drug" crystal meth.

But do these images correspond to the reality of Crystal users in Germany? "Now, after three years of drug careers, we are seeing the first ones who look like this," said Liedtke, describing the situation in the emergency room in Halle. However, he also questions the effect of these dramatic representations. “These pictures have led to the high school graduate who started consuming at 17, realizes after a year that he doesn't look so bad after all.” Liedtke suspects that this has affected the credibility of the prevention. "And that is what made the drug spread so easily."

Challenge to the help system

According to Liedtke, the fact that the reality for dependent crystal users in Germany does not look quite as bleak as it does on US posters is mainly due to a central difference: "Our health system has only few hurdles that one has to overcome in order to become Being more heavily dependent on being treated properly as a person. ”The externally visible damage, such as tooth loss and inflammatory skin diseases, is therefore initially limited.

Initially, the users obviously experience the substance as positive. Crystal is therefore primarily a “horror drug” for outsiders who watch helplessly those who are severely addicted. Nevertheless, the physical, psychological and social consequences are a reality and a challenge for the help system. A number of experts have therefore called for increased education and prevention aimed specifically at the identified risk groups. An exclusively dramatizing presentation, on the other hand, could be counterproductive.