Did you know that in 2020, 1.5 million people in the US had a methamphetamine use disorder, and over 23,000 people lost their lives due to a meth overdose? Meth devastates lives and causes long-term health consequences.
If you or a loved one has a meth addiction, it’s essential to understand the long-term consequences of meth use on your body and mind. It’s also important to learn about treatment options so you can recover and get your life back on track.
Keep reading this guide to learn about the consequences that meth has on your body and how to get the treatment you need.
Overview of Meth
Methamphetamines, also known as meth or by the street terms crank, ice, glass, tweak, and speed, typically come in the form of a white, bitter-tasting powder. Meth can be injected, snorted, smoked, or taken orally.
Chemically, meth is a manufactured amphetamine but has much more powerful effects.
Why Is Meth So Highly Addictive?
It’s essential to realize that one hit of meth causes a flood of the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine to be released in your brain.
The high is intense and very pleasurable. However, while the high from meth is only temporary, its effects on your mood and brain are immediate.
Once the flood of dopamine stops, you’ll experience a crash that can cause symptoms like fatigue, extreme anxiety, and paranoia. These symptoms cause people to continue to use meth since they are chasing that same initial high.
Immediate Effects of Meth
When you use crystal meth, you get an immediate effect or rush. This rush is known as euphoria. Euphoria occurs because meth causes a surge in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure centers.
Meth causes the brain to release chemicals called catecholamines. These are “fight or flight” chemicals your body releases during stressful times. Catecholamines cause the release of dopamine.
The initial rush from using meth can last around 30 minutes. After you experience this rush, you can have a high lasting up to 24 hours.
Short-Term Side Effects of Meth Use
In addition to the high, you can also get short-term side effects from using meth. These side effects can even occur if you only use meth for a short time.
Since crystal methamphetamine is a stimulant drug, it increases activity in your brain and nervous system. Side effects can vary for each person and most often include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Appetite loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Enlarged pupils
- Bizarre behaviors and violence
- Excitability and irritability
- Hallucinations and panic
- Seizures and convulsions
People also have uncontrollable twitching and a raised body temperature. Death can even result from short-term use when there are cardiovascular problems like a heart attack or stroke.
If other drugs or alcohol are mixed with meth, it can intensify the side effects of meth and have other intoxicating effects.
What Is Tweaking?
Tweaking is an extremely dangerous stage that meth users can experience. Tweaking follows a meth binge when a person engages in consistent and uncontrolled meth use from 3 to 15 days.
During a meth binge, you’ll experience less of a high since dopamine is depleted in the brain. Once the tweaking begins, you can no longer get high, no matter how much meth you use. Tweaking has varying symptoms, which include:
- Hostility and violence
- Intense itching
- The feeling of bugs crawling all over the skin
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
Long-term meth abuse has serious side effects on the mind and body, besides being highly addictive. Using meth can permanently damage your body and organs by causing damage to the blood vessels.
This damage occurs because meth raises your blood pressure, speeds up your heart rate, and constricts your blood vessels. It also increases your chances of developing heart disease.
Immune System and Organs
Meth can damage your kidneys since the toxins in meth can be difficult for your body to break down. It also weakens your immune system. Injecting meth increases the likelihood of infections and can increase your chances of getting hepatitis and HIV.
People who use meth can also develop a condition known as cotton fever. Cotton fever occurs if you use a dirty syringe while injecting drugs. Needles that have bacteria or mold can cause bacteria to enter the blood.
When this happens, you can experience life-threatening symptoms like organ failure and a severe infection known as sepsis. Symptoms of cotton fever include fever, elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, and chills.
Symptoms can become very intense, typically beginning within 30 minutes after injection, and can last up to 48 hours.
Meth use can cause gum disease and rapid tooth decay. It also involves cavities in the front teeth, which isn’t a common place to get cavities except for people who use meth.
You can also experience symptoms like trouble eating, headaches, and jaw pain.
Meth use also has a significant impact on your skin. When people are tweaking, they often pick at their skin and scratch themselves since they feel the sensation of bugs crawling on their skin. When this happens, it can often lead to sores, also known as meth sores or meth mites.
If you inject meth, you can end up with skin abscesses or infectious diseases.
Additionally, people who use meth are more prone to wrinkles, acne, and sweating. These effects make the skin age prematurely, causing meth users to look older than they actually are.
Meth also causes long-term effects on your brain, like behavioral changes. The brain also experiences structural damage with prolonged meth use.
The behavioral and psychological changes that occur with meth use include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood disturbances
- Delusions and paranoid behavior
- Impaired memory and decision-making skills
Treatment for Meth Addiction
The first step for treating meth addiction is detox. This is because the overuse of meth over time increases your tolerance, causing physical dependence.
This dependence leads to difficult withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, spasms, headaches, intense cravings, anxiety, and psychosis.
A structured detox program will allow you or a loved one to withdraw safely from meth. Some people think trying to stop using meth cold turkey on their own is quicker and easier, but this is not the case.
Doing this can harm your health and lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Medically supervised detox involves doctors monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure, and symptoms. They’ll often use medication to help manage symptoms like insomnia or headaches during meth withdrawal.
Holistic therapies like yoga, meditation, and therapeutic exercises are often used to help manage symptoms.
Once you detox from meth, your overall health and mental clarity will improve. Once this occurs, you’ll be able to move on to the next stage of treatment.
Addiction Treatment Programs
The next step is an addiction treatment program. You can enter into a 30, 60, or 90-day treatment program.
Treatment can be expensive, and if you don’t have an insurance plan, you’ll have to pay for treatment out of pocket. Anybody struggling with an addiction deserves treatment, so in this case, you’ll need to look at state-funded treatment programs.
Inpatient treatment programs are the best option for anybody struggling with substance use disorders like meth addiction. Inpatient programs give you continuous support and around-the-clock care.
A crucial part of treating addiction is treating underlying mental health problems. These programs offer therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify negative emotions and triggers and develop healthy ways to cope.
You also won’t get access to meth or other substances, so you’ll need to learn coping methods to help you handle stress.
Sober Living and Transitional Housing
After an addiction program, you’ll need to get back on your feet again and learn how to live life sober.
Sober living homes support people recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. It’s a safe and supportive environment where you can get housing and a chance to participate in daily activities again.
Transitional housing helps people to rebuild their lives once they’ve completed a treatment program. Transitional housing gives you a temporary place to live while you take care of your recovery and addiction issues.
There are sobriety rules and mandatory meetings you’ll have to attend. In transitional housing, you’ll get educational and employment skills to help you once you leave. You’ll also focus on realistic goals and work on repairing relationships.
The goal is to ensure you have the tools and skills to maintain your recovery and live a sober life.
You can find sober living homes for men and women and co-ed sober living homes. Men-only sober living homes help males get in touch with their feelings and emotions, which keeps them focused on recovery. Sober living homes for women allow females to feel like they’re in a safe environment where they can discuss personal or painful issues.
Find the Treatment You Need for a Meth Addiction
Now that you know more about meth addiction, you’ll better understand that getting treatment as soon as possible will lessen your chances of long-term damage to your body.
If you’re looking for a treatment center, you can turn to Detox to Rehab for help. We’re a supportive community that will help you with your journey toward sobriety. We can also help you find programs if you have a loved one with a meth addiction.
We have information on various programs like detox, inpatient, rehab, intensive outpatient programs, and more.
Make sure you reach out today and call our treatment hotline at (866) 578-7471 to talk to a care counselor. You can also fill out a contact form on our website.