The chemical make up of Crystal Meth has changed significantly over the years. What used to be a drug compounded with over-the-counter decongestants is now mass-produced from dangerous chemicals, creating a new, more dangerous meth, known as P2P meth. 

The effects of P2P meth can be devastating; debilitating side effects of meth use are now realized in a matter of months. Side effects that were not seen for years with traditional crystal meth.

At Suntra we have noticed an increase in meth users that show significant signs of psychosis. As the addiction progresses it becomes increasingly hard to do an intervention. An intervention done early enough can result in placing someone in a traditional rehab program, as the person using gets more and more sick. Intervention may have to happen with EMS and psychiatric facilities.

A brief history of methamphetamines

When amphetamine was first introduced to the American market in the 1930s, it was used as a key ingredient in pharmaceutical products, including nasal decongestants and narcolepsy medications.

During World War II, soldiers began using it regularly to combat fatigue and as a result, developed of serious addictions that persisted well after they returned home.

This situation, paired with an increase in amphetamine prescriptions, led to a significant rise in substance abuse across the country. In response, the U.S. government introduced the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, which severely regulated the manufacturing, importation, possession, and use of stimulants, narcotics, steroids, hallucinogens, and depressants.

For a short period, these restrictions were effective in minimizing drug use. But as these drugs became inaccessible, people sought alternatives and inadvertently created a market for new, illegal drug forms to flourish.

One drug especially impacted by this shift was methamphetamine. Initially, it was manufactured in small, home-grown laboratories using ephedrine-based products, like cold medicine.

However, this changed once pharmacies began to restrict the sale of these goods and traffickers began using more illicit ingredients, such as pseudoephedrine and phenyl-2-propane.

In the 1980s, biker gangs introduced P2P,  a cheaper and stronger form of meth. Using a combination of toxic, inexpensive chemicals, like lye, mercury, cyanide, and sulfuric acid, P2P meth could be made with easily assessable commercial chemicals brought legally and inconspicuously.

Successful and exclusive, this method dominated a small sector of the meth trade and remained relatively discreet until recently. About 10 years ago, cartels begin mass-producing P2P meth, undercutting the prices of small gangs and flooding the market with large quantities of the cheaply produced drug.

Symptoms of P2P meth use

A central nervous stimulant, methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, injected, or consumed orally. By quickly activating the dopamine and serotonin transporters, this drug affects users so strongly that dependent can begin after initial use.

It its most authentic form, meth stimulates the mind, elevates mood states, increases libido, and boosts energy levels. Since the early 2010s, P2P has rapidly become the leading ingredient in modern meth. P2P provides a similar high to previous forms of meth, however prolonged use will also produce, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, and psychosis.

Due to its high potency and dangerous chemical make-up, it also induces additional symptoms, like jumbled speech, uncontrollable rage, mania, extreme memory loss, and a strong desire to self-isolate.

The consequences of P2P meth use

Like all neurotoxins, meth causes brain damage, regardless of how it’s created. However, unlike ephedrine meth which impacts brain function over time, P2P meth expedites the deterioration process due to its toxicity and strength.

It is common that people exhibit disturbing noticeable behaviors, like claiming that government agencies are tracking them, often they have sensitiveness around their cellphones, destroying them or changing their number often to avoid being tracked. They may “go dark” and pull back from families or work for days at a time. Often this leads to a termination of their jobs.

The consequences of using long term are extensive; adverse effects range from strokes, seizures, and arrhythmias to organ failure, and hypertension, and in fatal cases, sudden death.

All these risks are compounded by the fact that P2P is often produced in unsafe environments and laced with other lethal substances, like fentanyl, a drug known for its high fatality rates.

Treatment and early intervention for P2P meth addiction 

According to the CDC, the widespread availability and fatality of methamphetamine has become a crisis in the United States. Paired with the prevalence of concurrent opioid use (57%), it has been a challenge to approach this situation due to its unprecedented nature.

Although there are many behavioural and pharmacological treatment options available for these populations, meeting their needs can be difficult for various reasons. Many are unstable, heavily addicted, and mistrustful of receiving assistance from others.

At Suntra we believe that intervention on meth must happen immediately and aggressively. Helping someone enter into treatment is a race against the clock. Continued use for even few more months will drive the individual into a deeper state of distrust for those trying to help.

References

CJN. (2021, October 20). Chemically Different, ‘New Meth’ Causing Severe Mental Illness. Retrieved from Arizona State University: Crime and Justice News: https://crimeandjusticenews.asu.edu/news/chemically-different-new-meth-causing-severe-mental-illness

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2021, December 9). P2P Meth: The Newest Product of the Meth Epidemic, and How We Got Here. Retrieved from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/p2p-meth?utm_source=clinical-connection&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=330351

Jann, M. W. (2021, May 6). Confronting the Methamphetamine Epidemic . Retrieved from Psychiatric Times: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/confronting-methamphetamine-epidemic

Johnson City Press. (2021, December 27). Meth Mountain – Day Two: “It’s not your grandmother’s meth anymore. It’s worse.”. Retrieved from Johnson City Press : https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/news/meth-mountain—day-two-it-s-not-your-grandmother-s-meth-anymore-it/article_72ed7eec-65fe-11ec-8593-f328679a0b97.html

Quinones, S. (2021, October 18). A New, Cheaper Form of Meth is Wreaking Havoc on America. Retrieved from The Atlantic : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/11/the-new-meth/620174/

About Suntra and Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist at Suntra Modern Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company that was later acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long term sobriety. His work as an interventionist has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach.

Adam recently co-authored Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery. In this lesson book Adam and John Roesch walk families through the entire intervention process. Suntra also offers a free video course for families considering hosting an intervention for a family member. 

Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Treatment for alcohol, opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available locally in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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