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Side Effects of Meth: Short & Long-Term Health Effects of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine use can cause harmful short-term health effects and lead to long-term health risks.1 Due to the drug’s potency, methamphetamine can provide intense effects in one who misuses it.1 Understanding the effects of methamphetamine usage can help you spot developing problems in yourself and a loved one.

Risks & Health Effects of Methamphetamine

Meth is a powerful stimulant resulting in increased alertness and physical activity along with decreased appetite.8 When meth is taken it increases dopamine levels in the brain, which not only results in euphoria but also reinforces continued use and can result in chronic use or addiction. 8 Furthermore, methamphetamine use can stimulate the body’s systems to dangerous and even lethal levels.2, 8 Data suggests that from 2015 to 2019, deaths from overdoses involving stimulants other than cocaine nearly tripled.2

Short-Term Health Effects of Methamphetamine

Short-term health effects of methamphetamine can range in severity. 3, first paragraph Even small amounts of methamphetamine has the potential to produce various short-term effects, including:include:3, third paragraph

  • Increased alertness.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Feelings of pleasure (i.e., euphoria).
  • Increased energy and physical activity.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Elevated body temperature.
  • Fast and/or irregular heartbeat.
  • Elevated blood pressure.

Methamphetamine use can also result in a stimulant overdose, which can be lethal.2, 8 Serious signs and symptoms of a stimulant overdose may include:10 whatis stimulant overdose

  • Dilated Pupils.
  • Dizziness.
  • Tremors.
  • Irritability.
  • Confusion.
  • Mood swings.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Overheating and excessive sweating.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Chest pains or tightness.
  • Extreme anxiety or panic.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Psychosis.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a stimulant overdose, contact 911 emergency medical services.

Long-Term Health Effects of Methamphetamine

Chronic methamphetamine use can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes.4 Not only can sustained meth use lead to the development of a substance use disorder (also known as an addiction), but meth can negatively impact other organs in the body, including the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain. 4,5 Long-term health effects of methamphetamine use may include:4,2, 11

  • Changes in the brain associated with reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.
  • Increased risk of stroke.
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system, including hypertension, increased plaque formation, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrythmias.
  • Anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances ,and violent behavior.
  • Psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions, , which can last for months or years after stopping use.
  • Physical effects, including weight loss, tooth decay and tooth loss, and skin sores.
  • Problems with pregnancy, potentially including premature deliveries, separation of the placenta from the uterus, low birth weight, and heart and brain problems in the infant.
  • Injecting methamphetamine could increase the risk of developing HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases, especially if one is using shared needle.

Signs Someone May be Addicted to Meth

Methamphetamine addiction (medically known as methamphetamine use disorder) is often categorized as a stimulant use disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorder Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists out elven criteria for the diagnosis of substance use disorder. The diagnostic criteria for a methamphetamine use disorder include:6, page 561

  • Methamphetamine is taken in greater amounts or over a longer period than anticipated.
  • There are many failed attempts to stop using.
  • Methamphetamine use is continued despite it causing problems with interactions with people.
  • An excessive amount of time is spent acquiring methamphetamine, using methamphetamine, or recuperating after use.
  • There are intense urges to use methamphetamine.
  • Repeated methamphetamine use resulting in failure to meet responsibilities such as work assignments.
  • Activities once enjoyed are ceased or reduced because of methamphetamine use.
  • Recurrent methamphetamine use in situations in which it is physically dangerous such as driving.
  • Tolerance, which means there is a need for greater amounts of methamphetamine to achieve the wanted effect or there is a significantly diminished effect with recurrent use of the same amount of methamphetamine.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when methamphetamine use is reduced or stopped completely.

Start Your Meth Addiction Recovery Today

If you are struggling with methamphetamine misuse, finding addiction treatment can help begin the process of recovery. Methamphetamine addiction is  treated primarily through behavioral therapy.5,7 There are currently no medications approved for meth addiction treatment, though researchers are investigating pharmalogical treatment options.2, final quote

Behavioral therapies used to treat meth addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people develop coping skills to manage situations that may trigger substance misuse, and contingency management, which is an incentive-based approach intended to increase motivation for continuing treatment and avoiding meth use.5, 4th paragraph, 7, first paragraph The Matrix Model is another framework used in meth rehab, which is a comprehensive approach incorporating the family, 12-Step groups, and drug testing, in addition to behavioral therapies.7, first paragraph

A first step for finding treatment for methamphetamine misuse or addiction may be to consulting with your doctor. They may be able to help reach a diagnose and refer you to a suitable rehab center. Additionally, the drugabuse.com directory can help you locate suitable treatment centers. This powerful online tool can help you search for meth addiction treatment programs across the United States. You may also consider calling the American Addiction Centers helpline at . Our staff members can help answer questions about methamphetamine misuse, help you find suitable rehab centers, and help you to verify your insurance benefits.

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