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The Effects of Crystal Meth Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth
  3. Side Effects
  4. Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth
  5. Crystal Meth Dependency
  6. Crystal Meth Withdrawal Treatment

The crystalline form of illicit methamphetaminealso known as crystal methcan be snorted, smoked or injected. All three routes of administration show aggressive potential for addiction.

The crystalline form of illicit methamphetamine—also known as crystal meth—can be snorted, smoked or injected. All three routes of administration show aggressive potential for addiction.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that can have long-lasting effects on your body. Crystal meth is methamphetamine in the form of a rock-like crystal that users heat and then smoke, although it can also be snorted or injected. Unlike most other drugs, many users report that they became addicted after trying crystal meth just once.

What is crystal meth?

Crystal meth is illicitly produced methamphetamine in a crystalline form. Most commonly smoked, but also snorted or injected, methamphetamine acts as a powerful and immediate-acting stimulant. Its euphoric effects last for only a short time, which rapidly leads to repeated use and addiction. Crystal meth can have extremely damaging effects on both the mind and body, leading to persistent brain damage, violent behavior, weight loss and dental problems. (source)

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 1

Abuse of crystal meth is prevalent in the United States, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse reporting that in 2009, 1.2 million American adults and children 12 years old and over had abused the drug at least once in the previous year. If you are addicted to crystal meth or know someone who is, contact one of our counselors today at 1-800-943-0566 to get all the information you need about how to get clean.

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 2

Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth

Users describe what the crystal meth high is like as similar to cocaine, only lasting for a longer period of time. There is an almost instant euphoria, followed by an increase in energy and alertness that can last for up to 12 hours.


A short-term effect of crystal meth when taken in large doses is erratic and even violent behavior. Other short-term effects of crystal meth include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Severe mood swings
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Tremors or convulsions
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate

Consistent use of crystal meth can also cause thoughts of homicide or suicide, as well as severe anxiety, paranoia and insomnia.

If you recognize any of these signs and symptoms in a friend or loved one, urge them to seek help now. Our counselors are ready to answer any questions you may have about crystal meth abuse, addiction and treatment. Contact them today at 1-800-943-0566.

Credit: National Geographic

Physical and mental effects of crystal meth

  • Going without food or sleep
  • Brief, intense rush
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

Side Effects

The side effects of crystal meth can be swift and severe, especially for pregnant women. Crystal meth can cause a baby to be born prematurely or suffer birth defects, including cleft palate or heart abnormalities. Babies born to crystal meth users are often very small in size due to lack of nutrition and prenatal care during pregnancy. Crystal meth is also present in the breast milk of users, putting nursing babies at risk.

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 3

Some people take crystal meth specifically to experience the side effects. As it causes a decrease in appetite and an increase metabolism, some users take crystal meth as a weight-loss aid. Unfortunately, this is usually a short-term effect. After approximately six weeks of use, your body will develop a tolerance to the drug, and the weight loss may subside. As you increase the amount of crystal meth you take to compensate, addiction is often the next step. Crystal meth also tends to increase libido, leading to abuse of the drug for that purpose alone.

Synaptic Effects of Amphetamine

Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth

Taken over a long period of time, crystal meth can cause severe physical and psychological issues. Signs of long-term abuse include:

  • A feeling of bugs crawling on the skin
  • Body sores from users picking at their skin
  • Psychosis and hallucinations
  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Coma

Severe crystal meth abuse can also cause outward signs of aging in users. The drug destroys tissues and blood vessels and hampers the body's ability to heal. Users often develop acne, and the skin takes on a dull look and loses its elasticity. The teeth begin to decay and crack, resulting in a condition known as meth mouth.

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 4

The most serious long-term side effect of crystal meth, however, is death from cardiac arrest or hyperthermia. Don't wait for your addiction to get to this point. Contact us today at 1-800-943-0566 to get started on the road to addiction recovery.

Lasting health effects of crystal meth

  • Violence
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of bugs on or under skin
  • Anorexia
  • Dental problems

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 5

Crystal Meth Dependency

While the euphoria produced by crystal meth may be similar to that of cocaine, they both have a different and lasting impact on the brain. Crystal meth signals the brain to fire off an increased amount of dopamine, a chemical that causes a feeling of reward or pleasure. The increased flow of dopamine is what scientists believe is responsible for tolerance and addiction in certain drugs. As users become more tolerant of the drug, they crave the feelings caused by increased dopamine levels, which usually results in them taking larger and larger doses.

As the crystal meth begins to wear off, the flow of dopamine decreases, and this is where the impact from crystal meth is very different to other stimulants. Other drugs, such as cocaine, allow the excess dopamine to be recaptured and reused. After taking crystal meth, your brain releases an enzyme that blocks the dopamine cells from being reused, eventually destroying them. This can cause a significant shift in the way the brain works.

The brain damage that occurs from prolonged use of crystal meth is one of the key differences between it and other illicit drugs. It is never too late to get help for crystal meth addiction, but it is critical that it begins as soon as possible.

Effects of crystal meth withdrawal

  • Depression
  • Loss of energy
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Craving for more meth
  • Suicidality
  • Repeated abuse of meth

Typical legal penalties involving crystal meth

  • Methamphetamine is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II drug. (source)
  • Repeated trafficking in a Schedule II drug such as methamphetamine – even fewer than 50 grams - can carry a life sentence. (source) State penalties for possession of Schedule II drugs can include prison sentences of up to 15 years. (source) (source 2)
  • The effects of methamphetamine can cause impaired driving and lead to DUI charges. (source)

Quotes from crystal meth addicts

“After a dose it is like you have just won an award, been offered sex with a very attractive person, and you are taking off in an aeroplane, all at the same time. Following the initial rush, I would become enraptured by a sense of the mystical: crystal meth can make you feel like your life is one big magical, lucid dream where anything is possible, everyone revolves around you and consequences are not binding. Then there is the flip side, when the magic potion wears off and the dreams become nightmares.” (source)

Crystal Meth Effects Quiz question 6

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Treatment

Withdrawal from amphetamines, including crystal meth, can result in a profoundly depressed state of mind. Some will continue to use to avoid this and other potential withdrawal effects.

Withdrawal from amphetamines, including crystal meth, can result in a profoundly depressed state of mind. Some will continue to use to avoid this and other potential withdrawal effects.

Withdrawal from crystal meth is different from most other stimulants. The physical symptom profile you might expect from other drugs, such as the severe stomach pain and vomiting experienced from opiate withdrawal, are not a part of the crystal meth detoxification process. Once users stop taking the drug, usually in a licensed detox center, the side effects stop fairly quickly. After the long-term insomnia and loss of appetite that active users experience abate, most people tend to do little more than eat and sleep the first few weeks. This might seem like a fairly mild picture of withdrawal, but keep in mind, it can take one to two years for normal dopamine functioning to return. During that time period, many people can suffer from severe depression, which can lead them back to addiction.

Because of the lack of physical symptoms, many rehab centers have put little emphasis on the detoxification process for crystal meth, but that is quickly changing. Let us help you find a treatment center that will make the withdrawal process as painless as possible so that you can begin your therapy and counseling. Our counselors are ready to take your call at 1-800-943-0566.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.