In 2019, the Albuquerque Journal reported that meth was “pure, potent, cheap, and available” in New Mexico. Due to its ease of production with easy-to-get items, Methamphetamine is a common substance misused in New Mexico and the United States. Unfortunately, meth has several undesirable side effects. Meth has an adverse impact on a person’s appearance and can cause damage to a person’s organs, such as the heart and lungs.
Side Effects of Meth Use
Meth is a powerful stimulant that affects a person’s central nervous system. It works by releasing a large amount of dopamine, which is the body’s natural reward chemical. Dopamine is released when we engage in pleasurable activities, so a large amount of dopamine released when a person takes meth creates euphoric effects. Unfortunately, dopamine reinforces meth use, leading to physical dependence and substance use disorder. The good news is that meth use can be overcome through substance use disorder treatment.
The Short-Term Side Effects of Meth Use
Meth is a stimulant, meaning it gives a person increased energy and stamina. In fact, in the past, it was used in war as a way to keep soldiers alert during battle. In the short term, meth gives a person a boost of energy. However, it leads to a decreased appetite of the user. In addition, when using meth, a person will have a faster and often irregular heartbeat. Also, their body temperature will increase, along with their blood pressure.
The Long-Term Side Effects Of Meth Use
The short-term stimulating effects of meth use are not worth the many unpleasant long-term side effects. These effects include:
- Significant dental problems
- Significant weight loss
- Intense itching leading to sores resulting from scratching
- Memory loss
- Violent Behavior
Along with these long-term effects, individuals who use needles to ingest meth run the risk of bloodborne illnesses, such as HIV or Hepatitis B. Those who use meth should be aware of needle exchange programs, which are programs that will supply individuals who use needles with fresh needles to prevent the spread of these illnesses. Needle exchanges are a service that keeps people alive and free from more serious health problems until they are ready to receive substance use treatment.
How Meth Affects the Mind and Body
People who have used meth describe it as a “powerful rush” when it is used. The rush of dopamine released during meth use means it does not take long for a dependence to develop. Over time, a person will build up a tolerance to meth use, meaning they will need to increase their dosage of meth to feel the same effects.
The Side Effects That Meth Has On Your Mental Health
Anxiety, confusion, and difficulty sleeping are negative consequences of meth use on a person’s mental health. In addition, as meth use continues, a person may become paranoid and see things that are not actually there.
Methamphetamine psychosis is a common condition for people who use meth. This is a condition where a person’s perception of reality is distorted, making it difficult to tell if something is real or not. As a result, those suffering from methamphetamine psychosis will believe things that are not true, see and hear things that are not there, and struggle to maintain relationships with others. Around 36.5 meth users develop methamphetamine psychosis. Symptoms of methamphetamine psychosis include:
- Speaking fast
- Having conversations that are difficult for others to understand
- Changing topics rapidly in conversations
- Beliefs that are not rooted in reality
- Itchy skin that feels like bugs are crawling on you
The Side Effects of Meth Used on the Body
Meth may give a boost of energy in the short term. Some take it to stay awake longer and get more done. However, a person will struggle to stay at a high productivity level as the side effects of meth use set in.
Meth suppresses a person’s appetite, causing rapid weight loss and malnutrition. It also causes a condition known as “meth mouth,” where a person’s teeth start to decay rapidly. In addition, the itching effect of meth will cause a person to develop sores from continual scratching. These sores often become permanent scars.
Meth can affect many of a person’s internal organs. It causes strain on a person’s heart and can lead to irregular heartbeats or heart failure. Meth can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Renal failure, or a condition where the kidneys can no longer process waste from a person’s bloodstream, is a side effect of meth use. Meth use leads to osteoporosis, a condition where a person’s bones become thin, brittle, and easily broken.
The Psychological Signs of Meth Use
Meth releases the natural chemical dopamine into a person’s brain. Dopamine has a part in motivation, body movement, and reinforcement of behaviors. Therefore, when Meth releases high levels of dopamine, it significantly reinforces meth use, making a person want to continue meth use.
Meth use significantly impacts a person's cognitive function. It can have consequences regarding memory. Meth use can lead to slower cognitive processing and frequent confusion.
Over time, meth use can alter a person’s brain chemistry due to the frequent release of excessive amounts of dopamine. Over time, this damages a person’s ability to produce dopamine. Lack of dopamine can lead to Parkinson's disease.
The good news is that studies show the brain can repair itself after meth use ends. Therefore, the longer a person abstains from meth use, the more healing can take place in a person’s brain. This means that if you or someone you love uses meth, you should not lose hope. They will be able to regain much of what they have lost by participating in a recovery program, maintaining abstinence from meth, and finding a supportive community that encourages them to continue to meet their recovery goals.
Treatment for Addiction Meth Use Disorder
If a person is struggling with meth misuse, they can find the help they need to recover at Shadow Mountain Treatment Center. Shadow Mountain specializes in an individualized approach that takes into account the needs of the whole person. While utilizing evidence-based therapeutic approaches to treatment, the staff at Shadow Mountain will help you achieve your recovery goals. If you are ready to learn more about treatment for meth use disorder at Shadow Mountain, contact us today at 800-203-8249.
FAQ About the Side Effects of Methamphetamine
What are the side effects of meth?
Some of the most well-known side effects of meth use are physical effects. Meth causes many dental problems, and those who use meth often lose teeth. People who use meth have severe itching and cause a lot of sores from scratching. Meth suppresses a person’s appetite, meaning they do not desire to eat enough food and lose a dangerous amount of weight.
Meth causes mental health conditions such as anxiety. Methamphetamine psychosis often develops in those who use meth. This is a condition where a person struggles to grasp reality accurately.
Meth causes severe complications to a person’s cognitive function, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and bones.
What are the withdrawal symptoms associated with meth use?
Meth withdrawal symptoms are symptoms that happen after meth use ends. They occur because a person’s body has grown accustomed to the presence of meth, and it is adjusting to meth’s absence. Because meth is a stimulant, the withdrawal period is often described as a crash.
Fatigue, an increase in appetite, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and severe confusion are all examples of withdrawal symptoms associated with meth.
Can you eat meth?
It is possible to use meth orally. This method of meth use delays the onset of meth’s effects by 10-15 minutes.
How does meth affect your skin?
Individuals who use meth often feel an intense itching sensation. This sensation is like “like bugs crawling all over.” Because of this, those who use meth are constantly scratching at their skin. This causes sores that often become scars.