Crystal meth, or methamphetamine is the notorious drug of choice for troubled young Hollywood starlets these days.
A certain young pop singer whose career is taking a tumble down hill was rumoured to have shaved off her hair earlier this year due to a bout of crystal meth psychosis. Meth can induce crawling and itching sensations and hallucinations of bugs – one source reported that said the girl complained that lice or bugs were ‘eating her hair extensions’ and driving her crazy and making her head itch and skin crawl. There are much less radical solutions to a bout of head lice than shaving one’s head – any good hairdresser could have taken out her extensions and treated the problem properly. But crystal meth can also cause you to lose your inhibitions and do strange things – like sitting next to a swimming pool shaving your legs in public, or going to the toilet with the door open, or flashing your wares to the paparazzi, to name but a few of this poor lass’s recent antics. This is also the kind of experience someone would have if they were, say, bipolar, and were having an episode of delusional mania.
Methamphetamine (methylamphetamine or desoxyephedrine), popularly shortened to meth or ice, is a psychostimulant and sympathomimetic drug. The dextrorotatory isomer dextromethamphetamine can be prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, though unmethylated amphetamine is more commonly prescribed.
Methamphetamine enters the brain and triggers a cascading release of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. To a lesser extent methamphetamine acts as a dopaminergic and adrenergic reuptake inhibitor and in high concentrations as a monamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Since it stimulates the mesolimbic reward pathway, causing euphoria and excitement, it is prone to abuse and addiction. Users may become obsessed or perform repetitive tasks such as cleaning, hand-washing, or assembling and disassembling objects. Withdrawal is characterized by excessive sleeping, eating and depression-like symptoms, often accompanied by anxiety and drug-craving. Users of methamphetamine often take one or more benzodiazepines as a means of “coming down”.
Because of its social stigma, Desoxyn is not generally prescribed for ADHD unless other stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin®), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®) or mixed amphetamines (Adderall®) have failed.
Range of Effects
- Increased energy and attentiveness
- Diarrhea, nausea
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of appetite, insomnia, tremor, jaw-clenching (Bruxism)
- Agitation, compulsive fascination with repetitive tasks (Punding)
- Talkativeness, irritability, panic attacks
- Increased libido
Side effects associated with chronic use:
- Drug craving
- Weight loss
- Withdrawal-related depression and anhedonia
- Rapid tooth decay (“meth mouth”)
- Amphetamine psychosis
Side effects associated with overdose:
- Brain damage/ Meningitis caused by lead poisoning(Neurotoxicity)
- Formication (sensation of flesh crawling with bugs, with possible associated compulsive picking and infecting sores)
- Paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, which may trigger a tension headache.
- Rhabdomyolysis (Muscle breakdown) which leads to kidney failure
Death from overdose is usually due to stroke, heart failure, but can also be caused by cardiac arrest (sudden death) or hyperthermia. Methamphetamine Wiki
As well as disturbing the levels of catecholamines in the brain, crystal meth appears to be a methyl donor as it raises blood levels of SAMe. In light of both of these effects, it’s not surprising that it causes the symptoms listed above.
These symptoms overlap with some of the symptoms – albeit much milder – that I experienced during my recent methyl donor experiment. Though the experiment finished three weeks ago, I’m still paying for it with rebound depression and very slow skin healing. Caffeine and folate have the same side effects.
Physical illnesses that can underly secondary organic delusional parasitosis include: hypothyroidism, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, tuberculosis, neurological disorders, vitamin B12 deficiency, and diabetes mellitus. Any illness of medication of which formication is a symptom or side effect can become a trigger or underlying cause of delusional parasitosis.
Other physiological factors which can contribute to the condition include menopause; allergies; drug abuse, including but not limited to cocaine and methamphetamine (as in amphetamine psychosis); certain medical conditions; and poor nutrition. It appears that many of these physiological factors, as well as environmental factors such as airborne irritants, are capable of inducing the “crawling” sensation in otherwise healthy individuals, but that some people become fixated on the sensation, and this fixation may then develop into delusional parasitosis.
Details of delusional parasitosis vary among sufferers, but is most commonly described as involving perceived parasites crawling upon or burrowing into the skin, sometimes accompanied by an actual physical sensation (known as formication). Individuals suffering from this condition may injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the “parasites”, and sometimes are able to induce the condition in others through suggestion (a phenomenon dubbed folie à deux). Nearly any marking upon the skin, or small object or particle found on the person or their clothing, can be interpreted as evidence for the parasitic infestation, and sufferers commonly compulsively gather such “evidence” and then present it to medical professionals when seeking help. The condition is seen most commonly in women, and the frequency is much higher past the age of 40. Delusional parasitosis
And here we enter the weird world of ‘Morgellon’s disease’.
Persons who suffer from this unexplained condition report crawling, biting, and stinging sensations; finding fibers on or under the skin; and persistent skin lesions (e.g. rashes or sores). In addition to skin manifestations, some also report fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision. It is not known at present whether the condition represents a new disease entity, or whether persons who identify themselves as having Morgellons have a common cause for their symptoms, share common risk factors, or are contagious. A majority of health professionals, including most dermatologists, regard Morgellons as a manifestation of other known medical conditions, including delusional parasitosis. The Morgellons Research Foundation, a non-profit advocacy organization, believes that it is a new infectious disease that will be confirmed by future research. Morgellons
“I am an ex-methamphetamine addict. I am also an ex-morgie.” Writes a man who goes by the pseudonym Tall Cotton.
My nightmare began when a hole developed in my right lower jawline, beneath my ear. A sticky, oil-like material oozed from the hole. I’m not certain that the two events were directly related, but in retrospect I came to believe that that was about the same time that I had begun using methamphetamines. As I sat, peeling away a skin-like layer of material that had dried around that weeping hole, I realized there was no material lying where I had dropped it, not a single strip of this skin-like material. I thought that seemed very strange, because I knew I had dropped it, so I went to a mirror in the bathroom, and in the bright light projected by the bulbs that bordered the mirror, I peel away another strip of material as one might peel away sunburned skin. But the instant that material broke free from the skin on my face, it shot into the tip of my finger and disappeared from sight. I thought to myself, “Whatever it is, it doesn’t want to leave!” I came to a quick, but false hypothesis, the first of many false conclusions, that the material had a mind of its own.
On several occasions, after flicking the material off of my fingertips, it would take the shape of a tiny clam. I’ve chased these across my floors on many occasions. I quickly learned that these objects could turn on the heat. It would come suddenly, and it would be extremely intense. It burned into my flesh and into any object it seemingly “chose” to. I learned to run them down and snag them with my locking tweezers. Two of these objects exploded in a small cardboard box where I housed them. The explosions yielded a multitude of multi-colored rocks, a half dozen white hairs, a half dozen black hairs, and one green hair. These hairs were about 2 inches in length. But there was one large, jet black hair, about 3 inches in length, and obviously motile. There was also half a portion of one of the clam shells. Inside it had compartments, and stored inside there were coils of cottony white fiber.
On another occasion, I found a wax-like drop of goo, inside the lid of my dishwasher. As I stared at the droplet it exploded with a pop. My forearms were instantly penetrated with sharp shrapnel. These pieces of material were burning my skin and working their way deeper. I grabbed my tweezers and I pulled long, needles of material out of my skin. I also pull out a portion of white fiber, but it seemed to be holding on with a million tiny tentacles, and it was impossible for me to retrieve it all. When two of friends came into my kitchen and saw what I was doing, they thought I had gone crazy. There were splats of blood, all down my countertop, where I had slapped the needle-like spines out of my tweezers and quickly returned to my flesh for more. The craziest thing was this. When I tried to show them the needles, just as I began clamping onto them with my tweezers, they melted before my eyes. The Lie of Morgellons
Methylation disorders and catecholamine imbalances are connected not only to ADHD, autism and fibromyalgia, but also to bipolar delusional mania and schizophrenia. Hallucinating bugs and things coming out of or going into the body is very common in schizophrenia. One of my friends at university was a schizophrenic who had bug hallucinations. She also had many symptoms of B12 deficiency including goiter – her first ‘episode’ began, unusually, after menopause, only two years after she became a vegetarian. I suspect she has a number of genes that left her very vulnerable after her change in diet. These are the consequences of screwing around with methylation vitamins like B12, zinc, B6, folate, SAMe, choline and betaine/TMG. Be careful.