Meth addiction and overdose deaths involving meth are sharply on the rise. Among those over 12 years of age in 2021, roughly 2.5 million reported using meth in the prior year. In the same year, more than 32,000 people lost their lives to psychostimulants, a number primarily attributed to methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that works by delivering a rush of dopamine to the brain, which leads to heightened energy and euphoria, as well as the ability to stay awake for long periods. The drug contains a dangerous cocktail of chemicals that are highly addictive. Most meth is either a powder or small crystal shards that individuals snort, smoke, swallow, and inject.
Known for delivering powerful stimulating effects, meth use often drives intense drug-seeking behaviors because people continue to chase the high that it delivers. Physical withdrawal with prolonged use can be life threatening. This dangerous substance involves severe consequences for the user and their families. Take a look at the long-term effects of meth abuse below.
Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use
The immediate effects of meth are part of why the drug can be so addictive. Meth use can also bring on physical symptoms that can be dangerous. The short-term side effects of meth use include:
- High energy levels: Meth causes an extreme surge of energy, so the user often can’t sit still and may not be able to sleep.
- Faster heart rate: Meth can speed up the heart rate, much like other stimulants such as cocaine.
- Lack of appetite: Meth users often experience severe weight loss due to lacking appetite and higher energy levels.
- Heightened body temperature: The chemicals in meth can elevate core body temperature to the degree that organs can be negatively affected.
- Faster respiratory rate: A higher heart rate and temperature can lead to faster, shallower breathing.
Long-Term Side Effects of Meth Use
The long-term effects of meth addiction can be chronic, sometimes even fatal. Routine use can lead to a full spectrum of devastating outcomes, from psychological to physical.
Drastic personality changes
Addiction, as a whole, has the ability to change your personality and how you connect with others. Meth is highly associated, however, with some of the most extreme personality changes. Impulsivity, paranoia, and even violence are among the effects of meth addiction. Extreme highs and lows in mood and emotions are common while using meth, and the need for the drug can overpower all logic and reason.
Personal and professional issues
The combination of personality changes and addiction to meth often leads to immense personal and professional issues. Most people who use meth for long periods experience lost relationships and social connections and have a difficult time keeping a job. The inability to be a reliable, stable employee often leads to poor job performance. Friends and loved ones often fall under suspicion due to meth-driven paranoia, and relationships can suffer due to the change in the individual’s temperament and personality.
Premature aging, poor oral health, and skin issues
Meth use can lead to rapid age progression due to lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and excessive toxin exposure. The drug commonly causes cravings for sugary foods and drinks, a lack of saliva, and teeth grinding, which can cause issues with oral health and tooth loss. Skin issues with meth use are also common due to the tendency to pick or scratch the skin on the face, arms, and legs. Long-term effects of meth can include hallucinations that drive skin-picking behaviors.
Mental health disorders and brain damage
Meth use can lead to issues with depression, anxiety, and even stimulant-induced psychosis, which sometimes evolves into schizophrenia. Stimulant-induced psychosis stems from changes in the central nervous system and how the drugs alter the way the brain processes information. Therefore, visual and audible hallucinations are common. Using meth long term can permanently affect parts of the brain that are vital for things such as attention, executive function, and communication. Cell death in the primary reward center can lead to issues with self-control or feeling happy.
Long-term meth use can lead to kidney damage, liver damage, and a high risk of stroke. The drug is exceptionally hard on the heart because it raises blood pressure, which forces the organ to work harder than it should. Further, meth use can suppress the immune system, which can heighten the risk of contracting certain illnesses and diseases.
Find Help for Meth Addiction at Vanguard
Meth addiction is one of the most dangerous substance abuse disorders due to the high risk of permanent negative effects. If you or someone you love is struggling to overcome addiction to methamphetamine, finding the right treatment option as quickly as possible is vital. Vanguard Behavioral Health’s methamphetamine treatment options in Tucson, AZ, and Albuquerque, NM, may be the answer. Reach out to discuss inpatient and outpatient treatment at Vanguard.