Methamphetamine, usually abbreviated as meth, is a synthetic stimulant. Some methamphetamines are prescribed to treat certain conditions, especially ADHD, but more effective prescriptions have been developed in recent years to replace them. Nevertheless, a homemade version called crystal meth continues to be a popular drug for recreational use.
Crystal meth may be smoked, snorted or injected. It is highly addictive, and as many as 12 million people in the country have taken crystal meth or non-prescribed methamphetamine. Meth use is especially common in rural areas, and addiction is especially prevalent among women when compared to many other types of illegal substances.
In addition to the many social problems that accompany drug addiction of any kind, meth use is very damaging to the body. Meth side effects can prematurely age a person and create significant medical issues that may haunt a person even after drug use has ceased.
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Short-Term Meth Side Effects
As a stimulant, meth provides a burst of energy and euphoria. There is usually an initial “rush” for up to 30 minutes followed by up to 12 hours of alertness and increased energy.
This period of increased energy can lead to a person pushing beyond his or her natural limitations to the point of exhaustion. Users may “crash” after the effects of the drug have worn off, leading to severe drops in mood and physical exhaustion. This may drive the user to take more of the drug, creating a destructive spiral of worsening symptoms.
Physical effects of meth use include insomnia, periods of inactivity, irritability and increased levels of aggression.
Long-Term Meth Side Effects
Methamphetamine is a natural appetite suppressant, and one of its original pharmaceutical uses was a diet aid for severely obese patients. When taken recreationally, meth can dramatically reduce an individual’s hunger levels. This leads to rapid and unhealthy weight loss.
Heart problems are another common meth side effect. Elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate and arrhythmia can all develop over time. These effects can be life-threatening.
Another common symptom of methamphetamine use is “meth mouth,” or severe tooth decay. This happens because meth causes chronic dry mouth, and the decreased saliva production can be damaging to tooth enamel. Combined with a loss of hygiene habits and teeth-grinding behaviors often seen in meth users, several dental problems can often result. It is not uncommon for meth users to lose many or all of their teeth to decay.
Emotional and mental effects are also common among meth users. Delusions, paranoia and severe anxiety can all manifest while taking methamphetamine. Risks of suicide and even homicide are also increased in users. Other common meth side effects include memory problems, lack of concentration and organ damage. Some long-term meth users develop symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Periods of psychosis sometimes referred to as “tweaking” may occur when a user has developed a resistance to the drug or during withdrawal periods. Long-term users may fail to get the initial rush or pleasant high from the drug that they are accustomed to. Instead, they may experience despair, delusions and an altered perception of reality. Rates of depression rise during these episodes, and some users are at a higher risk of suicide at this time.
Meth Addiction Support and Recovery
Crystal meth addiction can be devastating. The mental and physical toll this drug takes on the body can cause lasting damage. Addiction can also create problems with work, family obligations, relationships and more. The short-term experience of euphoria and energy is not worth the long-term devastation that can be caused by meth abuse.
Fortunately, it is possible to recover from methamphetamine addiction and reverse some of its effects. Meth side effects can be scary, but they don’t have to be permanent. If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with meth addiction, Ocean Hills Recovery can help. Contact us today to learn more about our program and begin the first steps toward recovery.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.