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Concurrent Alcohol And Crystal Meth Abuse

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Crystal meth is an illicit and powerful stimulant drug that is most commonly smoked, snorted, or injected.

It is characterized by its ability to produce a powerful euphoria, increased energy, decreased appetite, and increased heart rate. It is typically used in “binge and crash” episodes, during which the user repeatedly administers the drug in order to maintain the desired effects, and later experiences an unpleasant come-down when the drug supply runs out.

It is a popular drug of abuse due to its cheap price and intense, long-lasting effects. Similar stimulant effects are seen with drugs such as cocaine–though they last for a much shorter, less intense period of time than those experienced during crystal meth use.

Since crystal meth isn’t regulated and, over time, may be obtained from constantly changing suppliers, the user never knows precisely what each dose contains. Methamphetamine can contain a number of harmful ingredients such as antifreeze and cleaning fluids–contaminant chemicals that can be extremely harmful to the body, even in trace amounts.

In contrast to the stimulant properties of meth, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol use can cause:

  • Euphoria.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Compromised cognitive functioning.
  • Impaired motor control.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Decreased heart rate.

When crystal meth is abused along with alcohol, the risks increase greatly for the user. Combining alcohol and crystal meth – especially if done repeatedly over time – can place excess stress on the heart, which could be life-threatening for the user.

Signs And Symptoms

The signs of concurrent alcohol and crystal meth abuse are not pretty. They include:

  • Lowering of inhibitions–including sexual disinhibition.
  • Violent outbursts.
  • Paranoia.
  • Heart and respiratory problems.
  • Psychosis.
  • Seizures.
  • Weight loss.

  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Depression.
  • Suicidal ideation.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tooth decay and fractures known as “meth mouth.”
  • Coma (due to increased alcohol consumption when using crystal meth).

Combined Effects

The effects of crystal meth and alcohol abuse fall into three primary categories:


  • Stimulation: The user’s heart rate increases and he or she experiences euphoria and increased energy. When alcohol is consumed at the same time, its depressant effects are blunted, which can lead to excessive drinking because the user may not feel as drunk.
  • Cardiovascular impact: The rise in heart rate due to the crystal meth-alcohol combo can be so great that a heart attack or stroke may result. Long-term alcohol use is linked to cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure, while long-term crystal meth abuse is linked to heart failure. Over time, the additive cardiovascular impact can be deadly.
  • Psychological: This can range from violent and erratic behavior to engagement in high-risk activities, such as unprotected sex. Long-term addiction to crystal meth and alcohol can cause depression, anxiety, and psychosis, and could even lead to suicide.

Treatment For Co-occurring Alcohol And Crystal Meth Addiction

Users struggling with addiction to crystal meth and alcohol can find help at various certified rehab centers. Because crystal meth can frequently lead to binge usage, some addicts may be experiencing floridly psychotic symptoms just prior receiving treatment. With a high potential for associated medical and mental health issues, inpatient facilities are able to provide comprehensive care to those recovering from crystal meth abuse.

If you are currently battling an addiction to both alcohol and crystal meth, it may be in your best interest to find a rehab center equipped to manage cases of poly-substance abuse. Additionally, if abuse of either of these substances has given rise to or exacerbated a mental health issue, you may be better served by a center specializing in dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis refers to the co-occurrence of addiction and mental health issues. The incidence of some mental and behavioral health conditions – including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and, even, eating disorders – tend to be higher among those struggling with substance addictions such as alcohol and/or crystal meth. Treatment outcomes can greatly improve when both issues are simultaneously managed.

Quality rehab centers will administer medications to help with alcohol and meth detox and manage the withdrawal symptoms. Once the body rids itself of the toxic influences of all substances entirely, the intensive psychological work begins in the rehab program. The scope and severity of your addictions will be evaluated and you will be assessed for any pre-existing or co-occurring mental health disorders.

Many excellent inpatient treatment centers will offer:

The best rehab programs will include an emphasis on replacing negative habits with positive ones, along with a thorough follow-up program.

Find out how to help a crystal meth addict by calling our helpline at .


Like many drugs, crystal meth usage surged in the early years after its invention and later dipped as the health risks become more widely known. Crystal meth use probably peaked in 2008 or so, with a decrease in usage since then.

In the U.S. in 2008, a stunning 13 million Americans had said they had tried crystal meth, often in conjunction with alcohol. Here are a few other alarming statistics associated with crystal meth:

  • In 2012, about 1.2 million people reported having tried crystal meth in the past year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  • Per NIDA, in that same year, there were an estimated 133,000 new crystal meth users, 12 years of age and older.
  • It takes only $1,000 worth of ingredients to make $20,000 worth of crystal meth.

Teen Drinking And Crystal Meth Abuse

The facts about teens using crystal meth and alcohol are conflicting–some are encouraging, while others indicate there is still cause for alarm.


Overall, teen use of crystal meth is down over the past decade, but it remains the scourge of the small town, with double the percentage of users in rural areas than in urban areas.

  • About 3% of adolescents from 8th to 12th grade have reported using crystal meth in their lifetime, per NIDA.
  • One study reported that teens who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are nearly 4 times as likely to abuse crystal meth as their peers who haven’t had a traumatic brain injury .
  • Furthermore, teens with a history of traumatic brain injury are about twice as likely to engage in binge drinking, according to the same study.

Resources, Articles And More Information

For more information, visit these pages on crystal meth addiction treatment and alcohol abuse:

If you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol and crystal meth, there is plenty of help available to you. Call now to speak with a treatment support specialist about your recovery options.

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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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