Meth use is increasing in the United States, and meth overdose rates are increasing even more. According to the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 2 million people take meth each year. Yet, many people still don’t fully appreciate the dangers of using meth and crystal meth.
This blog outlines some of the dangers of shooting and smoking meth, and how, with the right support, you can recover from meth abuse.
What Is Meth?
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. You can snort, swallow, smoke, or inject meth. Meth comes in a white, crystal-like powder that dissolves easily in water and alcohol.
Meth produces an intense high that may involve wakefulness, alertness, and feelings of euphoria. However, the effects of meth only last a few hours and lead to a devastating crash. This causes many people to “binge” on meth, repeatedly taking the substance for several days while neglecting self-care.
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystalline methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a potent, concentrated form of meth. Crystal meth looks like shiny, bluish-white rocks; this gives it its street name, “ice”. Because of its potency, some people consider crystal meth more dangerous and addictive than other forms of meth.
How Does Meth Affect the Brain?
Meth increases the availability of the chemical dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that brain cells use to communicate with each other. Dopamine makes you feel alert, motivated, and energetic.
Meth, the Brain, and Addiction
Repeatedly taking meth can cause physical changes in the reward pathway of your brain. The reward pathway is a natural part of how your brain works, reinforcing life-preserving behaviors like eating and sex. When you engage in these behaviors, your brain releases a small amount of dopamine, producing feelings of pleasure and making you want to repeat the activity.
Taking meth floods the brain with dopamine, hijacking the reward system. Your brain connects the intense high with meth use, producing strong urges to use the substance again. These urges can be extremely difficult to resist, especially in response to certain triggers.
Brain changes in the reward system can be long-lasting and persist even after years of abstinence. However, effective meth addiction treatment can help you manage cravings and go some way to reversing brain changes.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Meth?
People usually take meth to feel awake, alert, or euphoric. However, meth also comes with a range of physical and psychological side effects. Severe side-effects like convulsions and high body temperature can be fatal if left untreated.
Short-term effects of meth include:
- Increased attentiveness
- Decreased tiredness
- Decreased appetite
- Feelings of euphoria
- Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations
- Violent behavior
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat and risk of heart attack
- High body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Meth overdose
What Are the Symptoms of Meth Overdose?
If you smoke or inject meth at a faster rate than your body can metabolize it, you may experience meth overdose. Taking high doses of meth or mixing meth with other substances increases the risk of overdose.
If you think someone has overdosed on meth, you should seek immediate medical assistance. Symptoms of meth overdose include:
- Jerking limbs
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pains
- Severe headache
- Racing pulse
- Aggressive behavior
What Are the Dangers of Smoking Meth?
When you smoke meth, it reaches your brain quicker than when you ingest it orally. While causing a more intense high, it also increases the severity of side effects and the risk of overdose.
Smoking meth, like smoking crack cocaine, tobacco, and other substances, can lead to lung damage.
What Are the Dangers of Shooting Meth?
Shooting meth comes with the same risks as smoking the substance, along with the dangers of shared drug needles. Sharing needles risks the transmission of blood transmitted diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.
What Are the Long-Term Dangers of Meth?
Over time, meth users may develop long-term physical and mental health issues.
Meth Abuse and Brain Damage
Long-term use of meth can cause permanent brain damage. You may experience impaired coordination, language skills, memory, and emotional regulation. Research shows that a year of abstinence may go some way to reversing these changes, but they may never be completely reversed.
Recent research suggests that taking meth may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. While the evidence is still limited, scientists advise that clinicians should be attentive to signs of emerging Parkinson’s disease among previous meth users.
Long-Term Health Problems
Consistently using meth can lead to several other health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Mood swings
- Mental health conditions like depression or anxiety
Meth Dependence and Withdrawal
If you repeatedly take meth over time, your body may get used to the presence of the substance in your body and begin to adjust its own functions in response. If you then suddenly stop taking the substance, you can experience a series of withdrawal symptoms.
Meth withdrawal symptoms include dehydration, fever, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue. In severe cases, you may experience paranoia, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
Withdrawing from meth can be intense, but medical professionals can help you manage symptoms and stay safe throughout the process.
Neglect of Self-Care
Meth users often engage in “binge” sessions where they repeatedly take meth for days at a time. They may forget to care for themselves, neglecting to eat or sleep. This may lead to dental problems, poor nutrition, weight loss, and sores from intense itching.
What Is Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth refers to the dental decay experienced by methamphetamine users who take meth orally. Chemicals in meth can lead to tooth and bone loss and the development of periodontal disease. Tooth decay is can be one of the physical signs of methamphetamine use.
Meth Addiction and Substance Abuse Treatment
Meth addiction can be scary, but there is help available. Effective treatment can help you overcome addiction and drug abuse so you can lead a full and healthy life.
Addiction treatment centers usually offer a range of treatment approaches tailored to the needs of each client. Treatment options may include:
- Talk therapy including cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Support groups
- Experiential therapy
- Complementary therapy
- Life-skills development
Addiction recovery is a life-long process that requires continued dedication and support. Treatment programs often offer aftercare programs to support you as you continue your recovery journey. Local, self-organized support groups can provide a free and accessible source of encouragement and strength in the years ahead.
Addiction Treatment at Alina Lodge
Alina Lodge is a renowned drug and alcohol abuse treatment facility in New Jersey. We offer some of the highest quality residential addiction treatment programs in the country, combining clinical expertise with compassionate care.
We offer a broad range of innovative and evidence-based approaches to healing from addiction and substance abuse. Our programs include grief therapy, mindfulness-based relapse therapy, and family therapy.
We emphasize a holistic, long-lasting approach to addiction recovery. Our programs treat the entire person, not just the addiction, providing meaningful healing for the mind and body. We involve family members in the recovery process, aiming to bring your loved ones back together as you embark on your own journey of personal growth.
If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse problems, contact our treatment center today. Our expert team is on hand to answer any questions and take you through the next steps.
We have helped thousands of people recover from addiction, and now we’re ready to help you.