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Meth Side Effects: Everything to Know for Recovery

According to a 2017 survey, roughly 1.6 million American adults reported using meth during the past year. In 2016, the average age of new users was a little over 23 years old. A study supported by the National Institute of Health released in January 2021 found that methamphetamine overdose deaths surged between 2011 and 2018. Methamphetamine is a drug that can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. It is extremely addictive and causes the amount of dopamine in a person’s brain to increase, which can strongly reinforce drug-taking behavior. Learning the meth side effects can help you determine whether or not someone you love is abusing crystal meth. But, first, let’s look at how it affects people in the short term and the long term.

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What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that impacts a person’s central nervous system. It is known by several other terms, including crystal, meth, ice, and blue. Meth takes the form of an odorless, white, crystalline powder that is bitter and dissolves easily in alcohol or water.

This drug was developed in the early 20th century from the drug amphetamine. While similar to amphetamine, much greater amounts of the drug get into the brain when taken at comparable doses. It can also have more harmful effects and longer-lasting effects on the central nervous system.

Short-Term Side Effects of Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine increases activity in the central nervous system and the brain. This causes users to feel more energetic and alert. Some of the most well-known negative side effects of meth are aggression and agitation.

A person who is using meth may also experience other short-term symptoms, including:

  • Excessive talking
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Intense feelings of pleasure
  • Increased interest in sex and the higher libido
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Bad breath
  • Extreme sweating
  • Nosebleeds and nasal passage damage
  • Blackened, rotting teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Burns, particularly on fingers or lips
  • Needle marks on the arms
  • Sudden or severe weight loss
  • Abscesses, sores, and infections
  • Premature aging of the skin

Meth can cause damage to the heart, leading to an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure. If someone you love is experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek emergency care immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat that is fast or slow
  • Stomach pain
  • Agitation and paranoia

There also some behavioral signs of meth use you can look out for if you are concerned that someone you love is abusing crystal meth. These include:

  • Criminality, such as stealing money to purchase drugs
  • A sudden change in social groups
  • Decreased fine motor skills or clumsiness
  • Distracted behavior in social situations
  • Extreme loss of appetite
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Displaying a tic or twitch
  • Forgetting important dates, events or times
  • High energy and hyperactivity
  • Isolating themselves from others
  • Increased violent behavior or aggression
  • Neglecting relationships
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Risky financial behavior

Obsessive focus on a particular task or issue

People who have a methamphetamine substance abuse disorder will have several items around to use the drug. These might be hidden in various places around their car, workspace, or home.

Paraphernalia might include a pipe, burned spoons, and a considerable amount of aluminum foil. Things like syringes or needles or new shoelaces, or rubber tubing might be used for injecting the drug intravenously. Things like empty pen cases, straws, and rolled-up bills, or slips of paper might be used to snort meth.

Long-Term Meth Side Effects

Methamphetamine addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s health over time. Some of the long-term meth side effects include:

  • Aggression
  • A feeling that insects are crawling under the skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Nervous excitement or agitation
  • Depression or depressed mood
  • Anxiety or a feeling of unease or worry
  • Anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure
  • Impaired judgment, cognition, motor skills, and memory
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Malnutrition
  • Tolerance, leading to an increased dosage

An unreasonable distrust of others or paranoia

Severe and immediately life-threatening issues can result from methamphetamine use, including heart attacks, seizures, and liver failure.

Signs of a Meth Overdose

Overdosing on meth is unfortunately quite common. Large amounts of methamphetamine can overwhelm the body, leading to coma, seizure, and is sometimes fatal.

Some of the symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Heart attack
  • Agitation
  • High body temperature
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irregular breathing
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Seizure

You should call 911 immediately if you think that someone is experiencing and meth overdose. There best chance of survival is professional medical assistance. Do your best to give as much accurate information to the 911 operator as possible and follow their directions.

Addiction is a disease that doesn’t just impact the afflicted individual but also the entire family. You can read about the different ways that substance abuse affects the whole family here.

Is Someone You Love Addicted to Meth?

As you can see from these meth side effects, this drug can completely wreak havoc on a person’s life, health, and well-being. If you are concerned that your child is suffering from an addiction to meth, know that help is available.

At Renewal Lodge, we offer meth addiction treatment to individuals with substance abuse disorders as well as their families for decades.

For admissions and additional information, contact us today.

Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness