'Speed' grows more popular outside Calif. U.S. drug authorities issue warning


WASHINGTON -- The rising popularity of methamphetamine in the eastern United States indicates a growth in nationwide use of the drug beyond its former domain in California, federal officials said yesterday.

Barry R. McCaffrey, the Clinton administration's national drug policy director, said methamphetamine was "probably the worst drug to hit America in 20 years."

McCaffrey released a semi-annual report on illicit drug trends that includes information collected from drug researchers, law enforcement officials and substance-abuse treatment workers. It shows the use of the methamphetamine spreading to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Columbia, Md., and Washington.

Methamphetamine, which is known by such street names as speed, meth, and ice, is a brain stimulant that enhances mood and body movement. It is taken in a variety of forms, including pills, crystals that are smoked and powder that is snorted through the nose.

Dr. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told a news conference that methamphetamine was "one of the most dangerous drugs we have in front of us."

Side effects of using methamphetamine include irritability, anxiety, paranoia and aggressiveness. It has been linked to spouse abuse, child abuse and neglect, officials said.

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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