What Does Meth Do To Your Body?

what does meth do to your body

Methamphetamine (meth) is found primarily as an illicit drug that is produced using a combination of cough and cold medicine ingredients and toxic chemicals. Meth is a rather inexpensive, addictive drug that delivers a powerful high, and tends to adversely impact nearly every aspect of a user’s health and life.

Regular meth use can cause significant damage to every organ, including the brain, and many of the effects may not be reversible. It also degrades the mental well-being of the user, as well as their physical appearance.

How Does Meth Work?

Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, a chemical involved in body movement, motivation, and the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to swiftly release a flood of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, compelling the user to repeat the experience. This effect is what creates the euphoric high and is also the catalyst for addiction.

Along with feeling euphoric, meth use also increases energy levels, alertness, wakefulness, and often causes the user to be more talkative and hyperactive.

What Does Meth Do To Your Body In the Short-Term?

Short-term effects of meth on the body may include increased body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and decreased appetite.

There’s also a potential for arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) brain hemorrhage, hyperthermia lung collapse, and convulsions upon overdose.

What Does Meth Do To Your Body in the Long-Term?

Long-term effects of meth on the body include the following:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs
  • Damage to nasal passages if snorted
  • Sores, abscesses, and infections if injected
  • Tooth decay
  • Malnutrition

The Effects of Meth on the Heart

Because meth is a stimulant, it can have a profound impact on the cardiovascular system. Meth constricts the veins and blood vessels of the user, which can cause blood clots to form. Meth use can result in chronic arrhythmia and high blood pressure, which can also damage and harden arteries, blocking blood flow to organs.

It puts a strain on the heart due to elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and disruption of normal rhythms, thereby possibly contributing to cardiac arrest.

The Effects of Meth on the Brain

Meth’s effects on the brain tend to be widespread and severe. Among the most dangerous risks meth users incur is an increased chance of stroke, which can result in permanent brain damage, including memory loss, paralysis, loss of speech, and cognitive impairment. Indeed, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S., and in 2015, strokes accounted for nearly 12% of total deaths worldwide.

In the long term, overstimulation of dopamine and serotonin-releasing cells can result in their destruction and an accompanying decline in dopamine levels. This condition leads to greater difficulty experiencing pleasure, which can cause severe depression and anhedonia.

Meth effects on the brain can also contribute to the development of psychosis, with symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia that are nearly identical to those of schizophrenia. Although these symptoms may resolve within a few months after discontinuing meth use, some users find that they persist longer and recurrence of these symptoms can occur even after a long period of sobriety.

The Effects of Meth on the Respiratory System

Meth use can affect the lungs and respiratory system in a variety of ways. The stimulant properties of meth produce rapid breathing, and possibly lightheadedness and fainting. Smoking meth can also cause the user to cough up blood due to bleeding in the lungs.

Snorting meth can lead to intense coughing and respiratory trauma, such as a collapsed lung and the release of air into the body outside of the lungs. When meth is inhaled, its impurities can accumulate in the lungs, form granulomas, and lead to lung disease.

The Effects of Meth on the Liver and Gastrointestinal System

Meth users sometimes employ needles to inject the drug, and they may also share needles with others. This practice can easily transmit blood-borne diseases from one user to another, such as hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can cause progressive damage and over time, may lead to jaundice, cirrhosis, bleeding, and damage to the central nervous system.

Blood vessel constriction produced by meth use can hinder blood flow to the bowels, potentially resulting in the death of bowel tissue. This condition can lead to perforation of the intestinal wall and peritonitis, a life-threatening infection of the abdominal cavity that can advance into septic shock.

The Effects of Meth on the Immune System

Using meth has the potential to stifle the immune system and reduce the body’s ability to combat disease-causing bacteria and viruses, which can leave meth users vulnerable to various infections.

Worse yet, needle sharing can also transmit HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV damages the cells of the immune system, and eventually, this can further compromise the body’s ability to protect against harmful diseases.

The Effects of Meth on Muscles

Chronic meth use can wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system of the body – among the most troublesome are involuntary myoclonus (muscle twitching and tremors) and repetitive or “stereotypic” movements.

Also linked to meth use is a serious and painful condition called rhabdomyolysis, which is characterized by the rapid destruction of muscle tissue and a potentially toxic release of the contents of the compromised cells into the bloodstream. Meth-induced rhabdomyolysis can lead to widespread muscle pain, extreme fluctuations of serum electrolytes, and if not caught and treated early enough, irreversible kidney failure.

The Effects of Meth on Teeth (Meth Mouth)

Meth is infamous for its visibly destructive effects on oral health, as several factors work together to produce this damage. The destruction meth use can invoke on the teeth is so far-reaching that “meth mouth” has become a common term for meth-induced decay.

More specifically, meth use can cause dry mouth, and a lack of saliva can lessen the body’s ability to fight off cavity-causing bacteria. It can also lead to a compulsive grinding of the teeth, which over time, can wear them down. When combined with nutritional neglect and poor oral hygiene due to being high, meth users can often suffer from severe tooth decay, cracked teeth, and tooth loss.

This damage isn’t just limited to the teeth, either – the gums can incur extensive erosion and recession as well.

The Effects of Meth on the Skin

Meth use can compel people to pick at their skin compulsively due to psychosis, hallucinations, delusions, and the feeling that bugs are crawling under their skin. Recurrent scratching of the arms and face can cause open sores to develop, which can then become infected.

An appearance of premature aging can also occur as a result of severe acne, loss of skin elasticity, and the development of leather-like skin texture. Severe weight loss due to appetite suppression can also cause the user to look emaciated and malnourished.

All of these factors can result in meth users exhibiting the characteristic “faces of meth” appearance – a complexion that appears unhealthy and deteriorative.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is an incredibly destructive disease that can cause extensive damage to the human body, resulting in significant health problems, mental illness, and even death.

Those addicted to meth are encouraged to participate in a long-term addiction treatment program on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Our center offers comprehensive, evidence-based services that include psychotherapy, psychoeducation, counseling, group support, and more.

We employ caring medical professionals with expertise in addiction who provide clients with the support, knowledge, and tools they need to succeed at recovery and enjoy long standing wellness and sobriety.

We can help you restore yourself to sanity and regain the life you deserve! Contact us now to find out how!

Amphetamine vs. Methamphetamine

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Amphetamine and methamphetamine (meth) are both stimulant drugs with similar chemical structures, effects, and health risks. Each drug produces a euphoric high, though meth is more potent and lasts longer than amphetamine. As such, meth has a higher potential for addiction and abuse than amphetamine.

What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamines belong to a class of drugs known as central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, which have psychoactive properties.

Amphetamine is produced legally in the United States as a medication indicated to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and, in some cases, obesity.

For individuals with ADHD, amphetamine improves their ability to focus and control impulses. If an individual without ADHD takes amphetamine, it results in an energized, euphoric high.

Some medications that contain amphetamine include the following:

  • Adderall
  • Adzenys
  • Dexedrine
  • Dyanavel
  • Evekeo
  • Mydayis
  • ProCentra
  • Vyvanse
  • Zenzedi

Short-term amphetamine use may result in:

  • Suppressed appetite
  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy and talkativeness
  • Headache
  • Increased libido
  • Hypervigilance
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea
  • Elevated body temperature and blood pressure

Long-term amphetamine use may result in dizziness, fatigue and muscle weakness, skin/complexion problems, difficulty breathing, gastric ulcers, malnourishment, psychomotor tics, impaired coordination, tachycardia, and mental health disorders

Chronic, excessive use of amphetamine can also lead to heart problems, convulsions, coma, and death.

What Is Methamphetamine?

On the street, methamphetamine is more commonly known as “meth,” “crystal” or “crystal meth,” “glass,” or “ice.” Meth has a limited medical use but is primarily produced illicitly and consumed recreationally. Indeed, the only legal, medicinal version of meth is an ADHD medication called Desoxyn.

Short-term effects of meth are like those produced by amphetamine, and may include:

  • Suppressed appetite
  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy and talkativeness
  • Bruxism (excessive jaw clenching and teeth grinding)
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and libido
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Hostility and paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Twitching

Excessive short-term meth abuse may induce seizures or sudden death.

Long-term meth use may result in anxiety and paranoia, dental degradations, hypertension, cardiac infections, organ damage/failure, heart attack, stroke, and brain damage.

Likewise, long-term meth use can cause an individual to become emotionally dysregulated, violent, suicidal, or even homicidal.

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine: A Comparison

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Higher amounts of meth end up in the brain than amphetamine when ingested in comparable doses because meth appreciably crosses the blood-brain barrier, inducing a stronger euphoric reaction.

Indeed, this action makes meth more chemically enticing and is the primary reason why meth is the more potent and addictive of the two. Amphetamine and meth both affect the production and reuptake of a few neurotransmitters in the brain associated with energy levels, executive function, mood regulation, and feelings of reward.

The euphoria induced by both substances is primarily the result of dramatically increased concentrations of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Despite both drugs elevating dopamine concentrations, clinical research indicates that, in similar doses, meth produces a greater amount of dopamine. In fact, one study found that meth was as much as five times more potent than amphetamine. This is another reason why meth proves to be more addictive than amphetamine.

Because meth use results in greater stimulation of the CNS, it also creates more stress than amphetamine. However, amphetamine has been shown to stimulate the peripheral nervous system and cardiovascular system more than meth.

Given amphetamine’s comparably lesser potency and potential for addiction, clinicians are much more willing to prescribe amphetamine vs. methamphetamine for ADHD. For ADHD treatment, meth is generally only prescribed when patients don’t respond well to amphetamine-based approaches.

The prescription versions of these substances, particularly amphetamine, are routinely utilized as performance-enhancing drugs due to their energizing and motivating effects. Athletes, students, high-stress professionals, and individuals working long hours, such as nurses or truck drivers, have all been known to abuse these stimulants to get an edge on their competition or ward off fatigue.

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine | Midwood Addiction Treatment

The pill form for either substance may be swallowed orally, but may also be crushed and snorted, smoked, or dissolved in water then injected intravenously. Meth is most readily available in its illicitly-produced, crystal form, and as such, it is most often smoked through a glass pipe, while amphetamine is most often taken orally as a pill or crushed and snorted.

Both drugs are often used in binge patterns, meaning that large quantities are consumed repeatedly for hours or days. Particularly bad binges may turn into “runs,” in which a person in the throes of a binge continues getting high for several days, taking the drug every couple of hours throughout that time. During a run, an individual may neglect eating or sleeping, and may even begin to “tweak,” which is a state of heightened irritability, anxiety, and paranoia.

Following a binge, a person’s body and brain crash. A crashing individual often becomes very fatigued, anxious, and depressed. Because a crash is so unpleasant, a person may re-engage in the binging cycle to alleviate side effects. Unsurprisingly, binging either drug skyrockets the likelihood of an overdose.

Long-term, chronic abuse of either substance may lead the user into a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia. This psychosis is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and sometimes paranoia, as well as meth’s hallmark symptom tactile hallucinations (feelings of bugs crawling on the skin.)

If a user becomes chemically dependent on either substance, they will experience a variety of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit or cut back.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Increased appetite
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Head and body aches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances and insomnia
  • Hallucinations

Individuals suffering severe withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit amphetamine or meth may require the support of a residential treatment program. A supervised medical detox ensures that the patient is safe and is as comfortable as possible while experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and is effectively prevented from relapsing.

Getting Treatment for Amphetamine or Methamphetamine Addiction

Amphetamine vs Methamphetamine | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Amphetamine and methamphetamine addictions can rapidly destroy a person’s life. As abuse accelerates, a person’s mental and physical health will suffer. Without professional help, these adverse effects could continue to the point of overdose.

Treatment gives a person’s mind and body the opportunity to heal, emotionally and physically. Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for these types of addictions, but this does not mean that these addictions cannot be treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach.

Persons who suffer from an addiction to amphetamines, meth, other drugs, or alcohol should first undergo a medical detox, followed closely by a transition to inpatient rehab treatment. Our center offers behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support, which is providing by caring staff who specialize in the treatment of addiction and mental health conditions.

You can reclaim your life and experience the wellness, happiness, and harmony you deserve! Contact us as soon as possible to find out how we can help you on the road to recovery!

Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Crystal Meth Effects

Crystal Meth Effects | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Crystal meth (methamphetamine hydrochloride) is an extremely addictive psychostimulant that affects the spinal cord, brain, and central nervous system (CNS). Depending on what form it is in, meth can either be smoked using a pipe (crystal form), snorted as a powder, dissolved in water and injected, or swallowed in tablet form.

Like cocaine, meth alters the way the brain the neurotransmitter dopamine, radically elevating dopamine concentrations. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of motivation, reward, pleasure, and euphoria. Furthermore, meth use also results in significant effects regarding the way in which the brain manages serotonin, another neurotransmitter responsible for the following:

  • Feelings of affection
  • Appetite
  • Body temperature
  • Motor functions
  • Inducing sleep
  • Mood and personality regulation
  • Libido

Meth is predominantly available in the following forms:

Powder—This form, known as speed or crank, resembles a coarse or fine powder and if off-white or yellowish in color. Pharmaceutical grade meth powder can also be found as a tablet of the prescription medication Desoxyn, which is indicated to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Meth is usually least potent in this form.

Base —This form, also known as point or wax, resembles a damp, chunky, and gritty paste-like substance and is off-white, pink, yellow, or brown in color. This form is usually purer and more potent than powder.

Crystal –This form, known as crystal meth, is manufactured illegally from a combination of over-the-counter medications and toxic substances in clandestine labs in the United States and elsewhere (Mexico in particular) for recreational use. Crystal meth, which is sometimes called ice, blue ice, or glass, resembles a white or bluish-white, quartzlike rock or glass shard. Meth is usually most pure and potent in this form.

Of note, meth addiction also commonly overlaps with other substance abuse, including that which is associated with alcoholism and opioid addiction.

Crystal Meth Effects

When consumed, meth produces an intense “rush” of feelings of well-being as blood pressure, heart rate, and libido all increase. A meth rush is followed by powerful, long-lasting high.

Crystal meth is known to produce a laundry list of short-term psychological side effects, including the following:

  • Nervousness and fidgeting
  • Irrational irritability, aggression, or violent behavior
  • Hypervigilance and paranoia
  • Increased concentration and focus
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased energy
  • Amplified libido
  • Increased sociability
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Inflated self-esteem and confidence
  • Delusions of grandeur and a false sense of invincibility or power
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychomotor agitation or tics, i.e., hair pulling or skin picking
  • Obsessive or repetitive behaviors

Crystal meth also causes a myriad of short-term physical effects, including the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurry vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
  • Acne
  • Itchy skin
  • Dry skin
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Numbness
  • Pallor
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tachypnea (rapid respiration)
  • Restlessness
  • Twitching or tremors
  • Heart palpitations or tachycardia (rapid heart rate)

Crystal Meth Effects | Midwood Addiction Treatment

The high delivered by cocaine lasts roughly between 15 and 30 minutes, for crack cocaine, only 5 to 10 minutes. In comparison, a meth rush alone can last over a half an hour, and the subsequent high persists for between eight and 24 hours. Because meth’s rush and high are so long-lasting, some prefer it to drugs like cocaine.

However, being under the influence of a substance for that long means that the body must endure any physiological stress it provokes. The human body did not evolve to handle being high on meth, especially over extended periods of repeated use. Therefore, significant physical damage, both external and internal, is inevitable for meth users over time.

Indeed, meth is infamous for causing severe dental damage and decay, commonly known as “meth mouth.” This condition happens because meth users often have a dry mouth, lacking saliva to protect teeth from the acidic ingredients used in meth production, such as battery acid, hydrochloric acid, and drain cleaner. Also, meth users regularly clench and grind their teeth, crave sugary drinks, and neglect oral hygiene completely.

Long periods of constant meth use, known as a meth binge, can lead to a condition called “tweaking,” which is often considered the most dangerous aspect of meth abuse. Tweaking is when a user binges for several days without sleep and begins to grow paranoid and unstable. Tweaking is characterized by compulsive, uncontrollable scratching, tremors, emotional volatility, paranoia, and tactile hallucinations of bugs crawling under the skin.

Crystal meth has gained in popularity among those who use it to enhance the experience of clubbing and partying. Some even consume it because it tends to cause rapid weight loss, though this weight usually returns upon cessation of meth. As well, because the user will become increasingly tolerant of meth, this weight loss effect will lessen over time.

Some also utilize meth to self-medicate depression, owing to its long-lasting mood-enhancing and euphoric properties. Others consume it solely as an aphrodisiac because it increases sexual desire and enhances sexual pleasure.

Concerning brain regions associated with dopamine production and processing, neural imaging studies have found that long-term meth abusers display structural changes serious enough to compromise their motor skills and capacity for verbal learning. Likewise, meth can disturb brain regions associated with memory and emotion. For these reasons, chronic meth abusers often develop cognitive deficits and dysregulated emotions.

Some of these neurological changes may persist long after meth abuse has ceased such as those associated with the transmission and processing of chemicals. These will gradually reverse, but this process may require more than a year of abstinence.

Physical effects caused by long-term meth use include the following:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Meth mouth
  • Burn sores
  • Sores from scratching
  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Premature skin aging
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Rapid, unstable weight loss or anorexia
  • Malnutrition
  • Dramatically increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Brain cell death and brain damage
  • Kidney, liver, and lung damage
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Seizures

Psychological effects caused by long-term meth use include the following:

  • Addiction and impulsive drug-seeking behaviors
  • Psychosomatic disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Methamphetamine psychosis

Meth users also incur many general risks associated with drug use, such as contracting HIV or hepatitis B and C, as well as overdosing. The lowered inhibitions caused by meth may lead users to inject with non-sterile needles, as well as engage in unprotected sex. Likewise, the physiological stress of meth in the body can accelerate the progression of HIV and AIDS.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is a devastating condition that results in a myriad of physical, emotional, and social consequences. Fortunately, however, it can be treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach. Our center offers behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support, among other services, in both inpatient (residential) and outpatient formats.

Our medical and mental health professionals specialize in addiction and are available 24/7 for those undergoing detox or inpatient treatment. Regardless of format, however, they provide our clients with the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and enjoy longstanding wellness and sobriety.

Following treatment, clients can take advantage of our aftercare planning services that identify local resources outside of the center who can provide the former client with long-term psychotherapy, counseling, and support.

Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Call us now to learn about our treatment options.