Dangers and Effects of Smoking Meth
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a very potent and highly addictive substance, categorized – along with cocaine – as part of a group of substances known as stimulant drugs. Meth is a synthetic drug, meaning it is artificially manufactured and is typically smoked in a small glass pipe.
It is possible that you may have walked past a meth lab at some point in your life. They usually have blacked-out windows and unusual odors. This is because of the use of household chemicals such as battery acid and drain cleaner, and other ingredients used to manufacture meth.
It typically comes in a crystal form, hence the name “crystal meth”, which is then smoked, but it can also be pressed into pills and swallowed. Other users might load it into a hypodermic needle and inject it directly into their bloodstream.
In the US, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes it as a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that while it does have a high potential for abuse, it is currently accepted in limited medical use to treat obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Other street names for the meth include:
- Crystal meth
Methamphetamine users tend to smoke meth because of the “high” that they get from taking it. However, meth use is highly dangerous, and its effects can be life-threatening.
Meth is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning that it has a stimulating effect on the brain. With similar effects to other stimulants, such as cocaine, meth works by making the brain release massive amounts of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters, mainly norepinephrine and dopamine, are what lead to the extremely pleasurable and energizing effects of methamphetamine.
Short-Term Effects of Meth
Meth users use methamphetamine because of the energizing and euphoric effects that it creates in the brain. Individuals who ingest methamphetamine through the most common form of consumption – smoking meth – report feeling the initial effects only a few minutes after consumption. Users who consume methamphetamine this way describe having a brief sensation or intense rush. When taken orally or via snorting meth, individuals experience the effects differently. Swallowing methamphetamine or snorting it produces effects that users describe as being a long-lasting and sustained high, instead of a rush. This sustained high can continue for as long as twelve hours.
Some of the desired effects that meth users take meth for include:
- An intense rush
- Feelings of euphoria
- Increases in energy
- Feelings of invulnerability
- Increased physical activity
These are not the only effects that users feel when the meth users abuse methamphetamine. Other effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Hyperthermia (overheating)
Individuals who ingest meth may experience these effects, but taking illegal drugs is always problematic. The reason is that dealers peddling unregulated and illegal drugs often cut what they sell with other substances. This means when purchasing an illicit substance, you may end up either taking too much of the drug, taking a mixture of substances, or taking something entirely different.
Long-Term Effects of Meth
These effects can turn into more dangerous effects when an individual uses methamphetamine regularly over a prolonged period of time. Often, when someone develops an addiction to a drug, they are unable to quit using that substance even if they wish to stop.
According to the DEA, prolonged use related to a meth addiction can result in negative feelings and health effects including:
- Violent behavior
- Meth mouth – including dry mouth, tooth decay, and tooth loss
- Severe depression
- Brain damage
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Mood swings
- Delusions – such as the sensation of insects creeping on or under the skin
Is Brain Damage Caused by Meth Use Permanent?
The brain damage associated with long-term meth use can be permanent. Some damage to the brain shows evidence of improvement over a long period of time without using the drug. However, the loss of neurons in the central nervous system that meth use causes will not recover in any way.
A research report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that long-term meth use can have a detrimental long-term effect on:
- Suppressing habitual behaviors
- Mental flexibility
- Emotion and memory
- Motor speed
- Verbal learning
It is unlikely that you will develop these symptoms after one use; however, as meth is incredibly addictive, it is impossible for anyone to rule out the possibility of becoming addicted to it. Therefore, if you have not experimented with the drug, then we would advise you not to. If you have experimented with it and are able to stop using the drug, then we recommend that you do so. If you have taken the drug and feel as though you are unable to stop, then please seek medical help as they will be able to guide you on how to end your addiction.
It is possible that smoking meth can result in an overdose. This is when an individual takes too much of a drug and experiences negative effects. If you have been smoking meth, or are with someone who has and is experiencing any of the following symptoms, then it is important to call medical emergency services immediately.
Call 911 if you, or someone you are with, is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Heart Attack
All of these symptoms are extremely dangerous and there is a high risk that they could result in death, so it is important that a medical professional is able to see any individual immediately who is experiencing these symptoms in order to reduce risk of death.
Meth abuse becomes an addiction when the individual smoking meth can no longer stop, even if they want to. If this is the case for you or a loved one, then it is important to seek medical assistance in getting treatment to come off of meth.
If you are uncertain as to whether or not you or someone you know has developed a meth addiction, then there are a few tell-tale signs that a meth addiction could be the case. These include:
- No longer attending social events
- No longer carrying out day-to-day activities and tasks
- A sudden and new change in the social circle
- The development of “meth mouth” – involves tooth decay and tooth loss
- Encountering financial trouble
- No longer attending work
- Extreme weight loss
- Intense itching
If you think that this could be the case, then it is important to approach the individual, whether that is you or someone else, with care and compassion. It can be a worrying thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Help is available and it is more possible than ever to put an end to your addiction.
Meth Addiction Withdrawal
When an individual with a substance abuse problem has an addiction to meth, or “ice”, they may experience effects, known as withdrawal symptoms, when they attempt to stop using meth. They can be different for everyone, and in some cases, these effects can be extremely challenging.
Some of these include:
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Increased appetite
For most people going through withdrawal, symptoms will go away after the first week. However, withdrawal symptoms such as psychosis can be extremely hard to manage by yourself, so we recommend seeking professional medical supervision when going through a meth detox. If your withdrawal symptoms are becoming more severe, it is important to tell your health provider immediately to reduce risks.
Smoking meth does not have to be a death sentence. There are options available to anyone who wants to stop their meth abuse. With the right care and professional help, anyone is able to put an end to their methamphetamine use.
Drug users who take part in any type of substance abuse are able to find a treatment that works for them. Meth addiction treatment often involves the combined use of medications and behavioral therapies. This is because, as much as your addiction revolves around your substance abuse, there are often co-occurring mental health problems that doctors need to address to ensure that you have an effective and lasting recovery.
These therapies can include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Contingency management
- Family education
- Individual counseling
- Support groups
Evidently, whoever you are, however strong your addiction is, and however long your addiction has been going on, there is treatment available for you. Supporting your mental health is a huge part of ending your methamphetamine use.
At Ebb Tide, we can bridge the gap between treatment and recovery and assist clients in all aspects of their daily lives. We have gender-specific treatment facilities, so you are able to begin your recovery journey in safe, comfortable, and peaceful surroundings. With the help of our caring and experienced staff, you will be able to take your life back into your own hands.
Substance abuse, involving methamphetamine or any other drugs, doesn’t have to be part of who you are. If you have any questions about our treatment services or want to get started, then call us at (561) 508-8330, or send us a message using this form.