What Are the Effects of Meth Use and Abuse?
Taken over a long period of time, crystal meth can cause severe physical and psychological issues as the short-term effects grow in intensity and complexity.
Signs of long-term crystal meth abuse include:
More persistent psychotic symptoms–including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.Increased mental health issues like depression, anxiety and social isolation.
Confusion and odd behavior.
Feeling of bugs crawling on the skin.
Body sores from users picking at their skin.
Breathing problems associated with smoke inhalation.
Irreversible damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
Severe crystal meth abuse can also cause outward signs of aging in users.
Since the drug destroys tissues and blood vessels and hampers the body’s ability to heal, users often develop acne, and the skin takes on a dull look and loses its elasticity. The teeth can begin to decay and crack, resulting in a condition known as “meth mouth.
Consistent use of crystal meth can result in severe anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia. Additionally, thoughts of suicide—or even homicide—have been noted in some abusers.
People that use the drug are looking for the immediate and long-lasting high for which the drug has gained notoriety. When the substance is smoked, the vapor moves quickly from the lungs to the bloodstream—where it then travels rapidly to the brain. Since the drug acts as a stimulant throughout the brain and body, there is an almost instant euphoria, followed by an increase in energy and alertness—effects that can last for up to 12 hours.
Other desired effects of crystal meth include:
An intense, initial “rush” that may persist for 30 minutes.
Higher motivation to accomplish goals.
Confidence/feelings of improved intellect and ability to solve problems.
Unsurprisingly, the desirable effects quickly give way to the undesirable effects of the substance.
For example, even short-term use can elicit erratic and even violent behavior when taken in large doses.
Side EffectsOther side effects of crystal meth include:Loss of appetite.Significant weight loss.
Change in sleeping patterns.
Severe mood swings.
Tremors or convulsions.
Elevated blood pressure.
Rapid heart rate.
Irregular heart rhythm.
Crystal Meth DependencyCrystal meth signals the brain to fire off an increased amount of dopamine, a chemical that causes a feeling of reward or pleasure. The increased activity of dopamine is what scientists believe plays a large role in the development of addiction to certain drugs. It is thought that the positive feeling from dopamine is so strong—and intensely rewarding—that it reinforces the behavior that initiated its release.As users become more tolerant of crystal meth, they will need more of the substance to achieve the desired high and will take ever-increasing amounts, placing themselves at risk for overdose and furthering fueling the body’s dependency on the drug.
Over time – after a period of persistent stimulant intoxication – dopamine receptor activity is severely impaired, which can cause perceptions of decreased happiness and pleasure and even lead to permanent cognitive impairments.