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How is Meth Different from Cocaine?

Methamphetamine and cocaine are both in the category of drugs known as stimulants. Meth is completely man-made and is manufactured using common household and industrial ingredients such as over-the-counter cold/allergy medicines, drain cleaner, battery acid, gun cleaner, gasoline additives, muriatic acid, ammonia, lye, acetone and kitty litter. Cocaine on the other hand is naturally occurring and is harvested from the leaves of the cocoa plant. While they are two entirely different drugs, both meth and cocaine have risks associated with their use, and have very high rates of dependence, abuse, and addiction. However, there are very distinct differences between cocaine and meth, in terms of how these drugs affect the individual both physically and psychologically.

Both drugs are stimulants so they stimulate the individual and create an euphoric high, as a result of the way both drugs elevate the dopamine levels in the brain. Stimulants such as cocaine and meth cause the user to be more active, talkative, alert, less tired, exhilarated, etc. One of the very distinct differences between meth and cocaine however, is that cocaine is metabolized more rapidly and removed more rapidly from the body. It takes the body much longer to metabolize meth, so it remains in the body much longer and therefore produces its effects for many more hours than if someone had used cocaine. On the flip side, because meth is in the body much longer, it has more time to create damage to the brain and vital organs. This is especially true when one takes into consideration the ingredients contained in meth which are completely toxic, most of which should not be consumed by humans.

The high one would experience after having used methamphetamine may last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, depending on how much the individual has taken. When someone uses meth, about 50% of the drug has been metabolized and gotten rid of by the body within the first 12 hours. When someone uses cocaine however, half of the dose is gone from the body within the first hour, with its primary effects only lasting about half a hour. Many regular cocaine users fail to achieve the same degree of "high" with regular cocaine use as they did from their first time using the drug. As a result, it is common for a cocaine user to increase the amount of cocaine they are taking to make their high more intense and prolonged.

The effects of cocaine are typical of stimulant drugs, and can include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, high body temperature, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. These are the short term effects, but there are more serious long term effects associated with cocaine use such as sudden death as a result of disrupted heart rhythms. This can occur upon an user's first time using the drug, or anytime thereafter. Cocaine binges, where large amounts of cocaine are taken to make the high more satisfying, can lead to potentially violent behavior.

Heavy cocaine users may also experience paranoia, muscle twitching, tremors, and even vertigo. This type of heavy cocaine use can cause the individual to feel anxious and restless, and may even lead to a type of mental breakdown where they may experience hallucinations. Depending on how someone administers cocaine, regular cocaine use can cause some serious health consequences. Snorting cocaine can cause problems when swallowing, nose bleeds, post nasal drip and runny nose, and loss of one's sense of smell. If a cocaine user ingests the drug orally, they may experience bowel issues as a result of reduced blood flow. Because some users are more sensitive to cocaine's anesthetic and convulsing effects, the risk of death after what is seemingly a low dose is a risk.

Meth use typically progresses starting with ingestion, then snorting it, then smoking it, and then finally using a needle to inject the drug intravenously. The effects of meth are similar to that of cocaine, and causes increased heart rate, body temperature, high blood pressure, a feeling of anxiety and irritability, restlessness and a loss of appetite. However, meth users almost always have more of a tendency to be violent while using meth, whereas this isn't always the case with cocaine use. Again, these effects are much longer lasting that if someone were using cocaine, and can last up to a day. Having an increase in blood pressure, heart rate etc. for this extended period of time can have dire health consequences.

Another side effect which is produced by meth us is a reduction in the amount of saliva that is produced in the mouth. Meth users also tend to load up on energy drinks and soda which contains a lot of sugar. Meth users also have a tendency to clench their jaws and grind their teeth. A combination of these factors is what leads to what is commonly known as "meth mouth", which is basically severe tooth and gum decay. Meth users also experience hallucinations where they think there are bug crawling either on or just below the surface of their skin, which can cause them to pick or scratch at these imaginary creatures. These are known as "crank bugs" and many meth users have open sores and scars all over their bodies, especially the face and arms, as a result which can become infected.

Crystal meth is a form of meth which comes with particularly high rates of abuse and dependence due to how powerful it is. Crystal meth looks can either look like large crystal chunks, small glass particles or shiny blueish-white rocks. This form of meth typically smoked in a glass pipe much similar to the way crack cocaine is smoked, but can also be dissolved and injected intravenously. Crystal meth causes a significantly more intense and longer lasting high than meth in its powder form, making the risks also much greater. As a result, long-term use of crystal meth can cause brain damage and damage to vital organs as well as the central nervous system.

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