What Are the Side Effects of Methamphetamine?
The most extreme side effects of methamphetamine addiction and drug abuse are well known. Everyone is familiar with the startling images of meth addiction, including rotting and missing teeth, scabbed skin, gaunt faces, and violent behavior. While these are common long-term effects of meth use, many unseen and dangerous side effects of meth abuse happen well before the visible physical and mental decay.
Despite having one of the most publicized anti-drug abuse campaigns in the United States, the demand for meth, and methamphetamine addiction rates, continue to rise. It is one of the most addictive drugs on the illicit market, and it is cheap and easy to produce and obtain. These factors are the perfect storm for rampant abuse and addiction for people from all walks of life.
Because many people have preconceived ideas about who uses meth and what they look like, it becomes easy to overlook the signs and symptoms of meth abuse. Recognizing the dangers and side effects of meth addiction can help open conversations with friends and family to get them into treatment and ultimately save their lives.
What Are Methamphetamines?
Methamphetamines, meth, or crystal meth on the streets, are synthetic, highly addictive stimulants. Methamphetamines are chemically similar to the more widely used and legal amphetamines but far more addictive, dangerous, and illegal. Meth works as a central nervous system stimulant that causes users to stay up for days, then crash, only to resume using it when the intense cravings kick in.
Meth is relatively easy for novice chemists to make using over-the-counter products like cough and allergy medications mixed with chemicals like anti-freeze, ammonia, or battery acid, to name a few. The final product is a white or off-white, hard crystals or powder with a bitter taste. Users report the smell ranges from rotten eggs to metallic to burning chemicals. The color, taste, and smell will vary based on the chemicals used to make it.
In the United States, methamphetamines are a schedule II controlled substance. It can be swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected.
Other names for meth include:
How Addictive Is Meth?
Meth is extraordinarily addictive, with some users claiming the first time they used meth, they became addicted.
Meth causes immediate and overwhelming rushes of dopamine, the chemical responsible for feelings of euphoria, motivation, and reward, and it stays in the system for a long time. When it finally does leave the system, meth causes intense and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings.
Meth users are constantly chasing their initial dopamine rush while trying to avoid withdrawal, which is how the cycle of methamphetamine abuse continues and turns into methamphetamine addiction.
Methamphetamine Side Effects
Depending on how a person takes it, the initial rush and side effects of methamphetamine last between 5 to 30 minutes. However, the lingering feelings and euphoria, especially with continuous use, can last 6 to 12 hours.
Side effects of methamphetamines include:
- Increased alertness
- Reduced appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Body temperature increase
- Dilated pupils
- Erratic thought patterns
- Rapid speech
- Increased sex drive
- Mood swings
- Tense muscles
- Teeth grinding
Short-Term Side Effects
Even small amounts of meth will cause short-term side effects. The effects will vary from person to person and each batch of meth, but the overall impacts on the central nervous system are similar.
Short-term crystal meth side effects include:
- Rapid breathing
- Decreased appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Irregular or rapid heart rate
- Twitching or fidgeting
- Flushing or redness in the neck and face
- Heightened and exaggerated mental health issues
- Violent behavior
- Withdrawal symptoms
Meth abuse is rarely a one-time occurrence, and with each use or binge, side effects will increase and worsen, and long-term damage becomes more likely.
Long-Term Side Effects
Meth causes many long-term side effects, some of which are permanent; however, it doesn’t take long for meth to cause these side effects.
Meth is one of the fastest-acting drugs when it comes to taking a physical and mental toll on its users. Users quickly develop tolerance and need more significant amounts of meth to feel and stay high, causing the toxic chemicals used to make meth to build up and damage the body at an alarming rate.
Long-term side effects of meth include:
- Respiratory infections
- New or worsening mental illness
- Extreme weight loss
- Weakened and damaged blood vessels
- Slow healing wounds
- Open sores and abscesses
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Heart damage
- Soft tissue decay in and around the nose and mouth
- Meth mouth or severe dental decay
- Increased risk of stroke
- Heart attack
- Cognitive decline
- Loss of motor control
- Memory loss
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
Meth users also risk contracting HIV, hepatitis, and secondary infections from sharing needles and pipes or risky sexual behavior. Because meth lowers the immune system, meth users suffer from chronic illnesses and ailments that their bodies cannot fight.
Meth Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, no matter how severe, a different way of life is possible.
At Northridge Addiction Treatment Center, your recovery journey begins with onsite medical detox with 24-hour medical supervision and support to ensure your safety through withdrawal.
We use evidence-based treatment programs to address the behavioral health aspects of addiction and recovery. Our compassionate, licensed, and experienced team works with you to develop healthy habits and coping skills that will empower you to maintain recovery for the rest of your life.
The path to recovery is a phone call away. Reach out to us now; our treatment specialists are eager to help you.
Find Meaningful Recovery
Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.