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What is the Drug Crank?

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Crank is a street name for the illicit drug methamphetamine. Some users define crank as a less pure version of crystal methamphetamine, but the terms are mostly considered to be interchangeable. Crank is a dangerous, illicit stimulant that is not used for any medicinal purposes. When a person abuses it, they risk a strong likelihood of becoming addicted as well as experiencing harmful effects in every area of their life. Crank abuse has been a steadily rising problem for some time and, according to the DOJ, “in some areas of the country methamphetamine abuse has outpaced heroin and cocaine.”

Origins of the Name

The street name crank is considered to have many possible origins, but the one most people ascribe it to is involved in the early history of methamphetamine use and abuse. Many of the individuals who originally dealt the drug were bikers, and they often hid the substance from police officers in the crankcases of their motorcycles, thus giving the drug its street name.

Other street names for methamphetamine include:

  • Meth
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Go
  • Hydro
  • Chalk
  • Chrissy
  • Ice
  • Rock
  • Rock candy
  • Whiz
  • Speed

Methamphetamine can also be prescribed to individuals with ADHD under the brand name Desoxyn. However, this substance is not the same as the powdered version known as crank, and it is only rarely prescribed because of its high potential for abuse.

How is Crank Abused?

According to CESAR, the drug “can be taken orally, by intravenous injection, by smoking, or by snorting.” The powdered version can be snorted or eaten which causes the drug to reach the brain more slowly and create a more prolonged high. This euphoric effect can “continue for as long as half a day,” according to the DEA.

However, in many cases, the powder is processed into a rock or liquid form in order to be smoked or injected, respectively. These two latter ways of abusing crank cause addiction much more quickly. The drug’s effects reach the individual’s brain almost instantaneously when it is abused in this way; this means the person will feel a very intense, euphoric effect that also ends almost ask quickly as it begins. In some cases, the high may not even last more than five minutes. Therefore, many individuals abuse crank continuously for a prolonged amount of time in order to sustain their high.

What are the Effects of Crank?

crank effects

Crank can cause an increase in physical activity.

The drug has many effects on an individual’s mind, body, and life, and the longer the person abuses it, the more dangerous these effects become. Still, crank abuse has immediate side effects, some of which can also be harmful, including:

  • A surge of energy
  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased body temperature
    • According to the NIH, the drug “can make your body temperature so hot that you pass out. Sometimes this can kill you.”
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unpredictable behavior
    • Crank abuse causes individuals to be more likely to engage in risky behavior which may be violent or even sexual in nature.
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils
    • Dilated pupils are often a sign of stimulant abuse.
  • Tremors
  • Motor or facial tics
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • The performing of repetitive tasks
  • Profuse sweating

“High doses can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels as well as cause convulsions and even cardiovascular collapse and death” (CESAR). Individuals who experience an acute crank overdose should be taken to the hospital immediately. They may be given “medications to calm [them] down and get [their] heart rate and blood pressure back to normal” (NLM). They will likely be given other tests to make sure they are not suffering from any other conditions.

Methamphetamine can also cause long-term effects when abused chronically. Certain individuals, known as tweakers, may abuse the drug for any amount of time between three and fifteen days, not sleeping and attempting to achieve a high that becomes more and more difficult to attain due to tolerance. “Because of the tweaker’s unpredictability, there have been reports that they can react violently, which can lead to involvement in domestic disputes, spur-of-the-moment crimes, or motor vehicle accidents.”

The drug can even cause chronic overdose which “refers to the health effects seen in someone who uses the drug on a daily basis.” These can be deadly as well and include:

  • Insomnia
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Psychosis
    • Crank abuse over time can cause a condition known as toxic psychosis or stimulant-induced psychosis. It mirrors the effects of schizophrenia and can become very extreme, even causing individuals who experience it to need 24-hour care in a controlled environment. It includes such symptoms as:
      • Delusions
      • Paranoia
      • Picking at the skin
      • Self-absorption
      • Auditory hallucinations
      • Tactile hallucinations (like that of bugs burrowing under the skin, sometimes referred to as crank bugs)
      • Hostility and aggression
      • Homicidal and suicidal thoughts
      • Violent outbursts
  • Stroke
  • Sores and boils on the skin
  • Severe weight loss to the point of malnutrition
  • Infections
  • Kidney damage and possible kidney failure
  • Meth mouth
    • A dental condition where the individual’s teeth begin to decay and fall out as a result of intense teeth grinding and dry mouth caused by acute methamphetamine abuse
  • “Damaged nerve terminals in the brain” (CESAR)
    • These issues can include brain damage that is similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. According to the NIDA, “Some of the neurobiological effects of chronic methamphetamine abuse appear to be at least partially reversible,” but even those that are could take up to two years or more of abstinence and treatment to be reversed.

Memory loss, distractibility, and “changes in brain structure and function” are other side effects of long-term methamphetamine abuse. Those individuals who become addicted to crank, which includes nearly anyone who chronically abuses it, also often experience.

  • Relationship breakups and falling out with family members
  • Isolation
  • Legal reprimand
  • Jail time
  • Job loss
  • Financial ruin
  • Homelessness

Crank is a drug that has no medicinal merit whatsoever. While prescription methamphetamine may be used in some rare cases to treat certain individuals, crank is dangerous and should not be abused under any circumstances.

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