All substance use has consequences, but some consequences are more extreme than others. Meth, or methamphetamine, is a substance with very extreme consequences, one of which is that it is incredibly addictive. We hear about how meth is really bad, but do we know what the actual dangers are?
Methods of Delivery
One of the dangers of the drug known as meth, speed, blue, ice, crystal meth is that it has almost as many ways to ingest as it has names and forms. Methamphetamine can be swallowed in pill form, smoked in powder or crystal form, snorted in powder form, or can be injected via dissolving the powder in water or alcohol.
Methamphetamine is an amphetamine. There are some amphetamines that are sometimes prescribed to treat conditions like narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) When meth is used recreationally, it causes an extreme and short-lived high, or sense of euphoria coupled with increased levels of energy and alertness. This intense experience creates a pattern of getting high and then crashing hard. It can motivate users to binge for days at a time, using meth every few hours and going without sleep or even food for days.
While it can sound terrible from the outside, and it may be difficult to understand why anyone would even start using it. Methamphetamine is an incredibly powerful drug, and its highly addictive nature doesn’t make it easy to stop using after even the first time. Amphetamine abuse can begin as an innocent attempt to pull off an all-night session for study or work, but the addictive effects come from intense and powerful cravings that can occur after even just one use. People may try meth, never planning to use it again, however, the drug tells our bodies otherwise. The side effects are devastating both physically and mentally.
Short Term Side Effects
The immediate cardiovascular side effects of methamphetamine include a rapid or irregular heartbeat, a faster rate of breathing, as well as increases in both blood pressure and body temperature. Digestive and sleep issues include a loss of appetite and/or nausea as well as a disruption of sleep patterns. This can include not being able to sleep when needed as well as “crashing”, sleeping during the day, etc. All of these side effects can occur after the first time using methamphetamine as well as at any other time.
Long Term Side Effects
There are many physical side effects from meth use, many of which are permanent. These effects can still come up even when someone is able to stop using the drug. Meth can cause permanent cardiovascular damage, including heart and lung damage as well as high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and death. Meth can also damage the liver and kidneys. Overdoses can lead to death.
Methamphetamine can cause intense itching, which can create skin sores from scratching too much. One very extreme side effect is the damage to teeth. Prolonged usage of meth causes severe dental problems, a condition that is even named “meth mouth.” Methamphetamine can also produce very extreme weight loss.
Behavioral side effects include anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and memory loss. Psychotic symptoms, which can last months or even years after quitting methamphetamine, include paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, mood changes, aggression, and violent behavior.
Additionally, as with other drugs that are injected, there is an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, both through sharing equipment and engaging in risky behaviors. Some of the common infectious diseases contracted include HIV and hepatitis B and C.
The Post-Methamphetamine Brain
One of the areas that damage is the least reversible with meth use is in the brain. Methamphetamine use causes changes in the brain’s dopamine system. Some damage can be reversed down the road, however much of the damage is permanent. The results are reduced coordination and impaired verbal skills. There is also often damage to the area of the brain that involves emotion and memory. Methamphetamine use can literally change your brain forever.
Withdrawal from Meth
One of the reasons people have a hard time quitting meth is because the withdrawal symptoms are so extreme. These include anxiety, fatigue, serious depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings. Because the drug is so addictive, it makes the initial detoxification more intense.
If you are reading this, it is likely that you or someone you know is using meth. While it can sound scary to try to give it up, the negatives of continuing to use outweigh the negatives of trying to quit. Yes, the withdrawals are intense initially, however, your life expectancy and quality of life goes up exponentially the sooner you quit. Your health is worth it. You are worth it.
Methamphetamine is an insanely addictive drug that has extreme physical and mental side effects. Using methamphetamine without medical care is dangerous not only to your overall health, especially your cardiovascular system and your brain, but puts you at risk of death in multiple ways. Recovery from meth is hard, but not impossible. Reach out your hand now and choose to take back your life. You are worthy of health and happiness. Stop the binge and crash rollercoaster and find some peace. Take control of your life and truly live again.
The dangers of methamphetamine are very real. If you or someone you know is risking everything, call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 now. It can be a choice between life and death.