TIK / Crystal Meth Dependence


”Meth” is known locally as “tik,” an Afrikaans word that mimics the sound made by the crystals in glass receptacles used to heat and inhale the drug’s vapours. ”Meth” is a synthetic (man-made) chemical.

Street names: TIK, crystal meth, crystal, lolly, Choef, speed, ice, Tuk-Tuk, globes, Hitler’s drug, Popeye’s straw, chalk, crystal straw

What exactly is TIK?

Crystal meth comes in clear chunky crystals resembling ice or a crystalline white powder that is odourless, bitter-tasting and dissolves easily in water or alcohol. Crystal meth is typically sold in ‘straws’ and would cost between R 15 and R 30. Other colours of powder have been observed, including brown, yellow-grey, orange and even pink.¹

Who cooks meth and where?

Meth is commonly manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories, mixing various amphetamine (another stimulant drug) or derivatives with other chemicals to boost its potency. Common pills for cold remedies are often used as the basis for the production of the drug. The meth “cook” extracts ingredients from those pills and to increase its strength combines the substance with chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and antifreeze.

These dangerous chemicals are potentially explosive, and because the meth cooks are drug users themselves and disoriented, they are often severely burned and disfigured or killed when their preparations explode. Such accidents endanger others in nearby homes or buildings.

The illegal laboratories create a lot of toxic waste as well—the production of one pound of meth produces five pounds of waste. People exposed to this waste material can become poisoned and sick. Nine out of 10 illegal laboratories manufacturing Tik in South Africa are operating in Gauteng province.

Poisonous substances that are used to manufacture meth:

  • Brake cleaner fluid
  • engine starter fluid
  • salt
  • gun cleaner fluid
  • acetone
  • cat litter
  • hydrochloric acid (swimming pool acid)
  • methanol
  • lithium (from batteries)
  • red phosphorus (from matches)

How do people use crystal meth?

Crystal meth comes in clear chunky crystals resembling ice and is most commonly smoked. The drug can be injected, snorted, smoked or eaten.

Are meth users/abusers all the same?

According to www.drugfreeworld.org, there are 3 different types of meth abusers.

Low-intensity abusers swallow or snort meth. They want the extra stimulation methamphetamine provides to stay awake long enough to finish a task or a job or enjoy the appetite-suppressant effect to lose weight. They are one step away from becoming “binge” (meaning uncontrolled use of a substance) abusers.

Binge abusers smoke or inject meth with a needle. This allows them to receive a more intense dose of the drug and experience a more potent “rush” that is psychologically addictive. They are on the verge of moving into high-intensity abuse.

The high-intensity abusers are the addicts, often called “speed freaks.” Their whole existence focuses on preventing the crash, that painful letdown after the drug high. To achieve the desired “rush” from the drug, they must take more and more of it. But as with other drugs, each successive meth high is less than the one before, urging the meth addict into a dark and deadly spiral of the addict.

What happens if you use TIK?

This is a powerful stimulant that increases alertness, decreases appetite, and gives a sensation of pleasure.

Stages after use:

The Rush: A rush is an initial response the abuser feels when smoking or injecting meth. During the high, the abuser’s heartbeat races and metabolism, blood pressure and pulse soar. Unlike the rush associated with crack cocaine, which lasts for approximately 2 to 5 minutes, the meth rush can continue for up to 30 minutes.

The High: The kick is followed by a high, sometimes called “the shoulder.” During the high, the abuser often feels aggressively more brilliant and becomes argumentative, often interrupting other people and finishing their sentences. The delusional effects can result in a user becoming intensely focused on an insignificant item, such as repeatedly cleaning the same window for several hours. The high can last four to sixteen hours.

The Binge: A binge is the uncontrolled use of a drug or alcohol. It refers to the abuser’s urge to maintain the high by smoking or injecting more meth. The binge can last three to fifteen days. During the binge, the abuser becomes hyperactive both mentally and physically. Each time the abuser smokes or injects more of the drug, he experiences another but minor rush until, finally, there is no rush and no high.

Tweaking: A meth abuser is most dangerous when experiencing a phase of the addiction called “tweaking”—a condition reached at the end of a drug binge when methamphetamine no longer provides a rush or a high. Unable to relieve the horrible feelings of emptiness and craving, an abuser loses his sense of identity. Intense itching is standard, and a user can become convinced that bugs are crawling under his skin. Unable to sleep for days at a time, the abuser is often in a completely psychotic state, and he exists in his own world, seeing and hearing things that no one else can perceive. His hallucinations are so vivid that they seem real and, disconnected from reality, he can become hostile and dangerous to himself and others. The potential for self-mutilation is high.

The Crash: To a binge abuser, the crash happens when the body shuts down, unable to cope with the drug effects overwhelming it; this results in a long sleep period for the person. Even the meanest, most violent abuser becomes almost lifeless during the crash. The crash can last one to three days.

Meth Hangover: After the crash, the abuser returns in a deteriorated state, starved, dehydrated and utterly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. This stage ordinarily lasts from 2 to 14 days. This leads to enforced addiction, as the “solution” to these feelings is to take more meth.

Withdrawal: Often 30 to 90 days can pass after the last drug use before the abuser realizes that he is in withdrawal. First, he becomes depressed, loses his energy and the ability to experience a pleasure. Then the craving for more methamphetamine hits and the abuser often becomes suicidal. Since meth withdrawal is excruciating and complicated, most abusers revert; thus, 93% of those in traditional treatment return to abusing methamphetamine.

Info courtesy of: http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crystalmeth/what-is-meth-made-from.html

Poem by Samantha Reynolds, LeFlore County Oklahoma – woman & mother, 2000

The poem was published in The Heavener Ledger, in September 2000

I am Crystal Meth…

Just try me once and I might let you go,
But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie,
You do what you have to — to get high.

My Name: “Is TIK ”
I destroy homes, I tear families apart,
take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold,
The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
If you need me, remember! I’m easily found,
I live all around you – in schools and town.
I live with the rich; I live with the poor,
I live down the street, and maybe next door.
I’m made in a lab, but not like you think,
I can be made under the kitchen sink.
In your child’s closet, and even in the woods,
If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.
I have many names, but there’s one you know best,
I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is crystal meth.
My power is awesome; try me you’ll see,
But if you do, you may never break free.

Just try me once and I might let you go,
But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie,
You do what you have to — to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit for my narcotic charms
Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms, (your lungs, and your nose).

You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad,
When you see their tears, you should feel sad.

But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised,
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.

I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,
I turn people from God, and separate friends.

I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,
I’ll be with you always — right by your side.

You’ll give up everything – your family, your home,
Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.

I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give,
When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.

If you try me be warned – this is no game,
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.

I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind,
I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.

The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed,
The voices you’ll hear, from inside your head.

The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see,
I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.

But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, That you are mine, and we shall not part.

You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do,
But you came to me, not I to you.

You knew this is would happen, many times you were told,
But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.

You could have said no, and just walked away,
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you will be my slave,
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.

Now that you have met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.

I can bring you more misery than words can tell,

Come take my hand. Let me lead you to hell.

What are the side effects of TIK addiction?

It shares many toxic effects as cocaine – heart attacks, dangerously high blood pressure and stroke. Like cocaine and speed, even small amounts of meth can produce a rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and elevated body temperatures. These symptoms, especially when meth is taken at high doses, can cause death from stroke, heart attack or organ failure due to overheating.

Meth works by severely changing the way the brain functions. First, it increases the release of the brain chemical dopamine. At the same time, it blocks the brain from absorbing the dopamine released. Studies show that alterations in the brain’s dopamine system are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal skills.  Because it’s such a highly addictive drug, using meth a few times can lead to getting hooked — and the long-term effects of this drug are ugly and scary. The hideous look of crystal meth shows on the scarred and prematurely aged faces of those who abuse it.

The toxic ingredients in meth lead to severe tooth decay known as “meth mouth.” The teeth become black, stained, and rotting, often to the point where they have to be pulled. The teeth and gums are destroyed from the inside, and the roots rot away.

It can make you lose weight, lose your teeth and develop scabs and open sores on your skin and face. Chronic meth abusers can become anxious and violent.

Meth users often display a range of psychotic behaviours, including paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. One of the most common meth delusions is the feeling of insects crawling under the skin.

 List of Short term effects:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behaviour
  • Hallucinations, hyper-excitability, irritability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses

List of long term effects

  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in the nose if sniffed
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and epilepsy

Get help

A crystal meth user should not be approached when under the drug’s influence. If possible, try and catch them at a sober time (ideally, when the motivation to get better is high) to talk with them about going into treatment. Discuss how their crystal meth abuse has affected your relationship with them, as well as how you’ve seen their life change following the onset of abuse – try to use “I” statements to avoid making the user feel alienated or unwanted.

Acceptance & Support

Make sure they know that they are loved and that you fully support their path to sobriety. If they relapse, be understanding; cutting an addiction out of your life is a huge challenge to take on, and sometimes people can slip, but it does not mean that they have failed. Recovery is a lifelong process, and most often, multiple relapses are a normal part of the process. Someone in healing has the best chances of long-term sobriety if they have a supportive network of friends and family.

The best options for rehabilitation include:

  • Inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation.
  • Outpatient treatment programs.
  • Individual behavioural therapy sessions with a therapist, counsellor or other addiction treatment professional.
  • Family therapy.
  • Support groups.

Recovery from Addiction Program

MobieG has developed an online learning campus that offers easy step-by-step online learning.

The “MobieG Campus” allows you to learn at your own pace while keeping track of your progress. It is in interactive learning platform with quizzes, surveys, and rich content to make your learning & self-discovery process fun and easy.

Course fees are once-off, and access to the course does not expire – that means you can come back and work on the course as often as you’d like.

Recovery from Addiction


If you have more questions about meth, you can chat with an online facilitator on LIVE CHAT.

The chat is a text-based service and you may remain anonymous.




You can also do a self-test quiz on addiction – Substance abuse quiz.


References & Resources

Terminology and Information on Drugs, Revised Edition, United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, New York, 1999. Merck Index, 13th Edition, Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, 2001.

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU9C4ENHEFo

¹ What Does Meth Look Like? Street Names for Crystal …. https://www.drugfreeworld.ie/drugfacts/crystalmeth/what-does-methamphetamine-look-like.html




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