Crystal methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerous, addictive drug made illegally from sodium hydroxide, ammonia, iodine, red phosphorous and ephedrine. The final product is a stimulant that resembles shattered glass. Crystal meth provides a high that lasts up to 12 hours and has a long-lasting effect on the body. The drug produces a rapid heartbeat, irregular heart palpitations and a spike in blood pressure. Damage to small blood vessels in the brain can lead to a stroke. Heart inflammation is a result of long-term chronic use. An overdose can cause a rise in body temperature and convulsions, which can lead to death. Crystal meth is smoked or injected, acts that increase the addictive nature of the drug. First Step The first step to recovery from crystal meth addiction is to remove the addict from the environment that provides the drugs. Inpatient treatment is typically recommended because the pull of the obsession is so great that even when addicts have a strong desire to get clean, they cannot overcome the intense compulsion to use the drug again. There is no medication to relieve the withdrawal symptoms of crystal meth. First signs of withdrawal are intense cravings and irritability, anxiety and agitation. Depression, insomnia and increased appetite typically follow. While most drug rehabilitation centers do not hold patients against their wills, meth addicts can best be served in the first few days of withdrawal by being placed in a locked facility. Therapy Once the initial withdrawal symptoms have subsided, a meth addict must receive intense counseling to combat relapse. Mental and psychological factors that contributed to the drug use in the first place must be addressed and the self-destructive tendencies identified. Physical consequences may be long lasting and require a round of therapeutic adjustments, as well. Crystal meth addicts often find release and comfort in groups of other addicts in self-help environments such as Narcotics Anonymous or Crystal Meth Anonymous. Both are fellowship-based programs with regular meetings that are based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Twelve-step programs provide long-term support and mentorship relationships that nurture a spiritual foundation for living based on open-minded ethics and principles. The 12-steppers often undergo a personality change after years of involvement in the program of their choice. Long Term Long after a person stops using crystal meth, he can experience neurosis that can cause violent behaviors, bouts of paranoia and insomnia. Intravenous users are at risk for additional complications including HIV, collapsed veins, abscesses, pneumonia or kidney failure. Permanent brain damage, cracked and decayed teeth, and body sores are other complications that can persist long after the drug use has ended. While there are some medical treatments for the long-term damage incurred from meth amphetamine abuse, many of the symptoms must be accepted and former users must find ways to cope with the problems as they continue with their recovery.