Effects of Meth Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment
Is Meth Harmful?
Meth—the abbreviated colloquialism for methamphetamine—is a wildly addictive and dangerous substance. Users can rapidly become dependent on its effects, which present a number of health risks. The illegal production and distribution of meth is one of the leading reasons for crime within some areas of the United States. Meth is often found with relative ease on the streets, contributing to the rapidly growing nationwide problem.
Meth is often created in small, home-based labs that are not up to any type of quality standard. Because of this, fires and explosions have been known to occur during the creation of the drug, and this has resulted in a number of people’s deaths and injuries.
Meth is more addictive and harmful than amphetamine, from which it is derived. The main drug of this form that is used on the streets is crystal meth, which can provide a high for up to 12 hours and allows users to get high relatively quickly.
Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine
There are various short-term effects of meth use. These effects may change a person’s personality or attitude, can lead to weight loss, may increase the risk of death due to heart attacks, and could cause other potentially deadly problems. Some effects are not negative, like increased awareness. When meth was used as a prescription medication, it was often used to increase focus. It is very rarely used medically and tends to be reserved for ADHD or narcolepsy patients who don’t respond to other forms of treatment.
Some potential side effects of short-term meth use include:
- Heightened awareness (feeling alert).
- Appetite loss.
- Inability to sleep.
- Heartbeat abnormalities and increased risk of heart attack.
Side Effects of Meth Use
The side effects of meth can be life-altering. Problems with teeth are not uncommon, and significant weight loss can occur. Short-term side effects may be temporary, but long-term side effects can cause irreversible damage to the body.
Because it is addictive in nature, those who take meth are more likely to crave the drug and to increase their dosages over time. This may lead to more severe side effects and a higher risk of death.
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Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
There is a lengthy list of long-term health consequences for those who have experienced prolonged meth abuse. Many of these effects can be quite devastating to those suffering from meth addiction, and the cumulative health toll can ultimately result in death. While this is no means an exhaustive list, some of the potential long-term effects of methamphetamine use can include:
- Prolonged appetite suppression.
- Rapid weight loss.
- Marked malnutrition and, in severe cases, starvation.
- Development of amphetamine psychosis.
- Central nervous system hyperactivity and muscle tics.
- Formication, or the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin, which can cause users to scratch the skin off or to create lesions that may become infected.
- Hyperthermia and cardiac arrhythmia.
- Deterioration of oral health (“meth mouth”).
- End organ damage resulting from prolonged malnutrition.
- Inflammation or infection at the site of injection, if used intravenously.
- Hair loss.
- Increased risk of obsessive behavior.
- Reduced inhibitions resulting in accidents and bodily harm.
Meth abuse or dependency is a real problem, since a user may have difficulties stopping use of the drug. Dependence can be physical or emotional, but both should be treated by a medical professional for the best outlook for the patient. Dependency may be treated with both psychological treatments and medications.
Dependency can result in overdoses or serious, life-threatening side effects. For this reason, anyone who suspects that they or a loved one is dependent on methamphetamine should see a physician or addiction treatment professional for help. To help a Meth addict, please call our 24/7 helpline free at for more information.
Meth Withdrawal Treatment
Because meth is addictive, with an unpleasant withdrawal syndrome that includes fatigue, irritability, depression, and even suicidal thoughts, supervised detoxification is frequently recommended. Completion of a medically monitored detox program can initiate effective recovery, as it minimizes a person’s risk of relapse and/or self-harm.
Therapy and Aftercare
Once the drug has been eliminated from the system, the patient may begin addiction treatment. This can include psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help patients prepare for life outside of the facility.
As psychological issues arise, they are dealt with by qualified psychologists or psychiatrists. Some of the types of mental health issues that could present include psychosis, depression, and paranoid behavior. Mental health issues associated with substance abuse are best dealt with in dual diagnosis treatment centers.
Aftercare is recommended for sustained recovery. Aftercare may include ongoing therapy, admission to a sober living or halfway house, 12-step supports groups, etc.
Find Methamphetamine Treatment Programs
If you or a loved one is struggling with methamphetamine addiction, help is available and recovery is possible. Treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a healthier and happier life. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for facilities. Many state government websites will provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. To find a treatment program and reclaim your life, please call us free at .