Effects of using methamphetamines

Crystal meth can range in color from blue to white.

The effects of methamphetamine use produce feelings of extreme euphoria by releasing high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine triggers the parts of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure, leaving meth users with a false sense of confidence and energy (WebMD, 2019). Pleasurable feelings from methamphetamine last substantially longer than cocaine, usually six to twenty-four hours, depending on how the drug was ingested. People take methamphetamines in the following forms:

  • Smoking
  • Swallowing (pill form)
  • Snorting
  • Injecting after dissolving the powder in water/alcohol

According to the CDC, fatal overdoses involving meth has more than tripled between 2011 and 2016 (SAMHSA, 2019). Furthermore, between 2016 to 2018 meth use amongst most age groups has continued to rise, noting a 43 percent increase in use over the previous year amongst adults 26 or older in 2018. In addition to feelings of pleasure, people will take a methamphetamine to produce the following effects: decrease appetite, increase energy levels, increase metabolism and increase libido.

Addiction is often inevitable for users of methamphetamines due to the drug’s highly addictive properties. Like many stimulants, meth is abused in a “binge and crash” pattern (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). Users will attempt to maintain the same level of “high” by continuously abusing the drug, sometimes known as a “run”, by omitting food and sleep in favor of using meth. A “run” can last for several days with users taking the drug every few hours. Predictably, these binges can impair one’s judgement and lessen inhibitions, resulting in risky behaviors that put the user in even greater danger. Dangers include higher risk of contracting STDs such as Hepatitis and HIV/Aids due to having unsafe sex while under the influence.

Methamphetamine abuse can lead to severe brain damage. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), brain imaging studies on chronic abusers of methamphetamine abusers suggests that dopamine system activity changes in such a way that it can seriously compromise a person’s verbal learning and motor skills (Brazier, 2017). Chronic users of crystal meth often develop emotional and cognitive difficulties, and while may reverse over long periods of abstinence from using, some effects can be permanent.

Other psychological effects from using methamphetamine use include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Hyperactivity and insomnia
  • Increased self-confidence and sociability
  • Hallucinations and paranoia
  • Repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • Psychosis

Thoughts of homicide and suicide have also been reported. Psychotic symptoms can last for months, even years after discontinuing meth, and can spontaneously recur. In fact, up to fifty percent of dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to even low levels of methamphetamine (Davis, 2018).

Physiological effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Elevated body temperature and blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Acne and itchy skin
  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • Numbness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe dental problems
  • Overdose
  • Death
Meth mouth is a common side effect of prolonged methamphetamine use.

Those suffering from a methamphetamine addiction undergo a significant change in appearance as the addiction progresses. Telltale signs that someone is suffering from a meth addiction include sores on the face from picking, meth mouth (severe dental damage) and significant weight loss. There are no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction, and in the event of an overdose, first responders can only treat the conditions that resulted in the overdose such as stroke, heart attack and organ problems. Restoring the blood flow to the affected organ/s is the only way to treat a patient presenting for a methamphetamine overdose (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019).

Treatment for methamphetamine addiction:

As noted previously, the is no medication approved to treat methamphetamine addiction, however there is still hope. Treatment in a licensed and accredited substance abuse treatment facility has proven to be the safest way to discontinue methamphetamine use. As a nationally recognized drug and alcohol treatment center, Daylight Recovery Center is well-versed in the treatment of meth addiction.
The first step to overcoming a meth addiction is detox. The detoxification process is safely preformed under the supervision of Daylight’s licensed medical professionals. During this first level of treatment, patients eliminate the presence of all drugs, alcohol and toxins from their systems. If withdrawal symptoms present themselves, our clinicians may choose to use some medications that can help manage specific symptoms of withdrawal to alleviate any temporary discomfort a patient may experience. There is no specific timeline for treatment as each patient is treated based upon his/her needs. Once a patient successfully completes detox, the next level of treatment is residential, or inpatient rehabilitation.

At Daylight Recovery Center, residential patients enjoy a wide range of amenities as they continue their path towards sobriety. This is the time a patient can truly focus on his/her recovery. Our industry-leading treatment program utilizes Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in conjunction with motivational incentives. CBT includes private and group therapy sessions, counseling, coping tools and relapse prevention. Motivational incentives include science-based, integrative services such as massage therapy, meditation, chiropractic, auriculotherapy and nutrition education. Patients enjoy having their own flat screen television while resting in bed, Chef-inspired meals, exercise equipment, patio area, a game room and look at our 450-gallon saltwater aquarium. Our high staff to patient ratio ensures that each patient receives the individualized care that he/she needs and deserves. For more information, contact our admissions department 24/7 at (888) 708-2602.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019, May) What is methamphetamine? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
Davis, K. (2018, June 28) Methamphetamine: What you should know. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309287.php
WebMD (2019) Crystal Meth: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/crystal-meth-what-you-should_know#1
SAMHSA (2019, September 26) Know the Risks of Meth. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/meth
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019, April) How is methamphetamine misused? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-misused
Brazier, Y. (2017, July 7) Everything you need to know about crystal meth. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/23207.php