Dangers & Side Effects of Meth

What is Meth?

Meth is a very addictive and dangerous stimulant drug and the side effects of meth can be severe. Meth affects the central nervous system and increases the amount of dopamine in reward areas in the brain, causing an almost immediate sense of euphoria. This unsurprisingly leads to people feeling good and wanting to use it again and again. The drug can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed if in pill form. It is often called crystal, speed, ice, crank, and more.

What Are The Short Term Side Effects of Meth?

Like all illicit drugs, meth has short term and long term effects. Some of the short term side effects meth use are:

  • Euphoria
  • Decreased appetite, which can lead to extreme weight loss
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Euphoria
  • Increased attention
  • Increased aggression and irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

Many of the side effects of meth can be extremely dangerous to a person’s health. Some of the long term side effects of meth use are:

  • Damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, and death
  • Malnutrition – severe weight loss also
  • Breathing problems, especially when smoked
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Insomnia
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s
  • Dependence/addiction, including psychological
  • Destruction of nose tissues if snorted
  • Intense itching and scratching at the skin, causing open sores
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Kidney Damage – kidneys can shut down because of higher than normal body temperatures. Additionally, it can break down muscle tissue, which is actually dangerous to your body and damages the kidneys.
  • Lung Damage – when meth is smoked, it can have a detrimental effect on the lungs. The toxins in the meth can go directly into your lungs and damage them. Meth constricts blood vessels, and this can reduce blood flow to your lungs and cause fluid to accumulate.
  • Liver Damage – there are a lot of toxins in meth, and it’s impossible to know what’s in the drug when you buy it on the street. A lot of meth is mixed with toxins such as drain cleaner, battery acid, paint thinner, lithium, and Freon. Heavy meth users are at a substantially increased risk of developing hepatitis or acute liver failure.
  • Damage to the mouth – because of the toxins in meth, it is incredibly corrosive and acidic. This causes severe tooth decay and red, swollen gums, which also leads to the loss of teeth.
  • Infectious diseases, such as HIV, MRSA, and skin infections are common.
  • Abscesses are also common if the drug is injected. An Abscess is a build-up of fluid under the skin, and it is generally caused by a lack of hygiene and sterilization during the injection. Abscesses can also occur when the drug is injected directly into the skin instead of the vein.

Can You Overdose On Meth?

While we mostly hear about overdoses related to heroin and fentanyl, you can also overdose on meth. If a person uses too much of the drug, it can cause a sharp rise in blood pressure, which can lead to hemorrhages, liver failure, or a stroke. Some common symptoms of an overdose are chest pain, arrhythmias, difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, hallucinations, seizures, hyperthermia (high body temp), heart attack, stomach pain, and paranoia.

Mixing meth with other drugs or with alcohol increases the likelihood of overdose and exacerbates the negative side effects of meth. Overdoses often happen when a person is using larger amounts to deal with increased tolerance, injecting the drug, or has pre-existing conditions, like high blood pressure.  

Side Effects of Meth & Stages of Intoxication

The Rush – the first intense euphoric feeling that a user feels when smoking or injecting the drug. They will experience this rush within a few seconds after smoking or injecting, and a few minutes after snorting. This part of the high could last for about 30 minutes, at which time the high will change into a more prolonged high that is less euphoric. This stage often produces a lot of hyperactivity and rapid thinking, which could last up to 14 hours. Once the rush and prolonged high start to wear off, a person will seek out more drugs to try to recreate the first rush they felt, which is almost impossible to do. Users will also seek out more drugs to avoid the crash at the end, which causes them to use even more. 

 The Binge – after the crash comes the binge. The user is seeking that first high and wants to avoid crashing, so they use meth over and over again. Sometimes people will stay awake using the drug for days at a time.

The Crash - When a person is coming off of the drug and starts to crash, they may feel a number of things, such as extreme exhaustion, low energy, agitation, intense drug cravings, restlessness, insomnia despite being exhausted, anxiety, and depression. When someone goes on a binge using meth for days at a time, once they crash they may then end up sleeping for days at a time.

What is Tweaking?

When someone uses a lot of meth or goes on a days-long binge, they can become paranoid and unstable, as well as potentially aggressive/violent. Their eyes will dart around, they may be having hallucinations and completely lose touch with reality. Additionally, their body may start shaking and the user will be unable to stand still. The need for them to find more meth and seek that high can make them very dangerous and unpredictable. Sometimes when tweaking, users will crawl around on the floor looking for little pieces of meth they believe they dropped. Other behaviors they might engage in while tweaking are taking things apart and putting them back together, excessive cleaning, excessive masturbation/sexual activity, jaw clenching, and teeth grinding.

Meth is a very dangerous drug, and it is one of the most challenging drugs to recover from; the side effects of meth can be dire. If you or someone you know has a problem with meth or any other drug, contact a professional immediately and seek help!

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