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Crystal meth usage 'rivals crack' - ACPO report (UK)

By klaatu, Feb 15, 2008 | |
  1. klaatu
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7246072.stm

    The use of the class A drug crystal meth could be as big a problem as crack cocaine within four years, police warn.

    A report for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) predicts that use of the drug is rising.
    Crystal meth is a form of amphetamine which has been crystallised so that it can be smoked.
    The Home Office says the government is not complacent about the problem - but adds that the current number of crystal meth users in the UK remains low.


    The charity DrugScope said it was right to be vigilant about the drug's harmful effects but there was a risk of being alarmist over levels of use in the UK.


    The Acpo report compares the growth in the UK with the pattern of use in Australia and the US where it has reached epidemic levels in some areas.


    Det Sgt Andy Waite, Acpo's expert on the drug, told the BBC that police had seen "a gradual rise in the reporting of the use and manufacturing of the drug" in the UK in the last two to three years.


    He said the increased use and production of the drug in the UK was "something we are alarmed about" and is being monitored by police. However, he said it was important to maintain a sense of perspective, pointing out that the problem in the UK is "still relatively minor".


    These sentiments were echoed by Martin Barnes from charity DrugScope, who said it was right for officials to be concerned - but not overly so. He said: "Internationally there's clear evidence that it can have very serious consequences for mental health, physical health. The manufacture is actually quite dangerous. And that's the concern about this drug, that it is particularly unpleasant and harmful.
    "So it's right that we're vigilant and we're cautious, but at the same time we risk being alarmist as well."


    The first crystal meth factory was found in the UK in 2005 and the police have found another 19 since.
    BBC Radio 5 Live has learned that the Acpo report notes a small increase in the use of crystal meth but says there could be a similar growth in Britain to pattern in Australia and the US within the next two years.

    Crystal meth was reclassified as a class A substance in the UK in an attempt to clamp down on its use in January last year.

    People who use methamphetamine - the drug's proper name - face up to seven years in jail and an unlimited fine, while dealers could be jailed for life.

    'Very addictive'

    It can give a massive high to users, but they can quickly become dependent and it can lead to serious mental health problems.
    Paranoia, kidney failure, violence, internal bleeding and less inhibited sexual behaviour, are among the reported side effects of the drug.
    Other risks associated with the synthetic stimulant, which can be smoked or injected, include depression and tooth decay.


    Dr Rebecca McKetin, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Australia, told the BBC even recreational use of the drug was dangerous.
    She said: "People are thinking, 'oh, it's ok to go out and smoke it with my friends on a Friday night when I go to the club.' But it kind of creeps up on them and quite a lot of those people are starting to experience problems with their methamphetamine use.
    "And I think people here are starting to learn that this is not typical of, you know, a recreational kind of drug. It is actually a very addictive and potentially very dangerous drug."

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    Klaatu

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