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Children as young as six years old are getting hooked on methamphetamine in Mexico.
The substance is called cristal in the central-American country and its users are getting younger and younger over the last decade or so.
Mexico's Health Secretary revealed meth has overtaken heroin, crack and cocaine in terms of usage.
A single dose of meth is reportedly only a few dollars and access to the drug is fairly easy on the streets.
The department said only 5 per cent of people seeking government-sponsored rehab in 2010 were meth addicts. That's now jumped to more than 30 per cent, according to 2020 figures.
Dr. Norma Leticia Corona, the director of a youth rehab center in Mexico, has told Vice News that the age of some people needing help has become dangerously young.
"What we have heard from the children that we've treated has been that it's a relative, an uncle, a brother, a father, a neighbor, a friend, who initially persuaded them to try [meth]," she said.
"We once had a 6-year-old [come for meth abuse]."
She added that the people who come in usually range from 8 to 16 years old. Around 80 per cent of the kids needing treatment are there because of meth. A 16-year-old told the news outlet that he started taking meth four years ago when he was only 12.
"The first time, they were goblins. Then I started to hallucinate that I was listening to demons," the teen said.
A 15-year-old said he got addicted to the drug when he was two years younger after he was recruited by a Mexican cartel to sell illegal substances.
He told Vice News: "I spent six months on the street. Each time [I got high], I felt a deeper emptiness into which I fell and fell.
"The truth, there were a lot of things and I've felt bad since. I prostituted myself for drugs. And it was an experience that as long as I was high, I thought what I was doing was OK."
Doing hard rugs like meth can be extremely damaging to a person's body and mind at any age, however doing them when you're a teenager or pre-teen is extraordinarily concerning.
Psychiatrist Donald Moses explained on WebMD: "The young brain is still growing, developing more and more synapses, more and more knowledge, and so there can be more and more damage."
People who have taken meth for a while are at risk of chronic depression and cognitive problems because of how the drug affects the brain's serotonin and dopamine levels.
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