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The Effects of Meth Use

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Is Meth Harmful?

Meth, the abbreviated colloquialism for methamphetamine, is a wildly addictive and dangerous substance. Users can rapidly develop a dependency on its effects, which themselves exert 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.

It 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 that is used on the streets of this form is crystal meth, which can provide a high for up to 12 hours and allows users to get high relatively quickly.

Short-Term Effects

There are various short-term effects of meth. 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 from short-term meth use include:

  • Aggression.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Heightened awareness (feeling alert).
  • Appetite loss.
  • Hypertension.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Heartbeat abnormalities and increased risk of heart attack.

Side Effects

The side effects of meth can be life-altering. Problems with your 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 it 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

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 no means an exhaustive list, some of the potential side effects of meth 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.
  • Depression.
  • Increased risk of obsessive behavior.
  • Reduced inhibitions resulting in accidents and bodily harm.

Meth Dependence

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 they or a loved one is dependent on methamphetamine should see a physician or addiction treatment professional for help. To help a Meth addict, call our 24/7 helpline at for more information.

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 the risk of relapse and/or self-harm.

Once the drug has be 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 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.

To find a treatment program and take back your life from substance abuse, call and speak to a treatment support specialist now.

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Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, is a professional counselor who has been working for over a decade to help children, adolescents, and adults in western Pennsylvania reach their goals and improve their well-being.

Along the way, Eric worked as a collaborating investigator for the field trials of the DSM-5 and completed an agreement to provide mental health treatment to underserved communities with the National Health Service Corp.

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