Menu Close

Live Out Your Best Future

Take the first step toward addiction treatment by contacting us today.

Meth Side Effects

meth side effects feature

What Are the Side Effects of Methamphetamine?

I met my friend Macy when we were both psychology majors in college. One day, she started acting really differently. She had always been a sweet and friendly girl, but she started acting aggressive, and I caught her lying about where she was when she was supposed to be in class. I started wondering if she was on drugs. Methamphetamine, or meth, is a powerful stimulant street drug that is common in the U.S. It is highly addictive and can have long-lasting negative side effects on a person’s health and general well-being. If you believe someone you love may be struggling with a meth addiction, you might want to know all of the potential side effects. Based on a 2016-2017 survey 120,000 people in Texas ages 12 and older used meth last year.

Identifying Meth and Common Signs of Crystal Meth Addiction

The first thing I noticed was that she stopped coming to class regularly. When she did come to class, she seemed disinterested, even though she used to love what we studied. One time, when she came to class, she asked me for money, which she had never done before. She started hanging out with a new group of friends and was spending less time with me. So, when she asked me to come over to her apartment to study one night, I jumped at the chance. When she went to get takeout, she left me in her living room, and I noticed something sticking out of the drawer in her end table, and that’s when I noticed an almost crystal-like, fine white powder. Meth typically takes the form of a crystal-like white powder. The powder sometimes comes in other colors, including yellowish-grey, brown, or it can even be dyed into bright colors like orange or pink. The powder can also be condensed into a pill form. It does not have any obvious smell to it, however, it does taste slightly bitter. Meth typically dissolves easily in water, which is one good way to determine that it is meth and not a different white-powder drug. Crystal meth, a more expensive and often purer form of the drug, comes in a crystal form that resembles a small chunk of ice. Even if you don’t find the drug itself, there are other signs methamphetamine use that someone you love may have a drug addiction. Many people who are developing a drug addiction go through lifestyle changes that may be noticeable to the people close to them. People with new or worsening drug addictions often:

  • Lose interest in hobbies
  • Stop spending time with their friends and family
  • Start spending a lot of time with new friends
  • Experience sudden financial problems
  • Suddenly perform worse at school or work
  • Get caught in lies about where they’ve been, where they’re going, or what they’re doing
  • Act secretive
  • Change their eating or sleeping habits

Meth Paraphernalia (Tools) and Side Effects

I went to close the drawer, taking a closer look at its contents. The crystal-like white powder was in a small plastic baggie, and there was a lighter and a pipe. The pipe was what made me realize that Macy was smoking meth. It was different from the tobacco pipes that I had seen. This one was long with a round, ball-like head. I knew it was a meth pipe. Meth can be snorted, smoked, injected, or ingested. Each method requires different tools to get the drug into a person’s system. Meth is commonly stored in:

  • Small plastic baggies
  • Balloons
  • Small pieces of tinfoil

Items used to snort meth typically include:

  • Razor blades
  • Straws
  • Hollowed out pens
  • Rolled up dollar bills

Items used to smoke meth typically include:

  • A lighter to heat the substance
  • A bubble-ended pipe
    • Meth pipes look different from pipes used to smoke tobacco or marijuana
    • A meth pipe is typically clear with a round bowl that has a small opening and a long cylinder on the end, longer than that of a tobacco or marijuana pipe
  • A burnt spoon used to melt down the substance

Items used to inject meth typically include:

  • A lighter to heat the substance
  • A needle to inject the substance
  • A burnt spoon used to melt down the substance
  • A band or something to tie around the arm to make veins easier to identify

Any one of these items on its own may not be a reason for concern, but when found together, it is often a telltale sign of drug addiction. If you find any meth use tools, do not touch them because they could be contaminated with small amounts of meth or other drugs. Old or used needles are particularly dangerous to touch because they could carry blood-borne diseases. Each method of meth use comes with different dangers. When meth is snorted, it can cause permanent damage to the nasal cavity. Those who regularly snort meth might have noticeable issues with their nose and/or airway, such as sniffling or complaining of nose pain with no apparent source. Smoking meth can cause damage to the lungs and airway over time, but it also gets the drug to the brain extremely quickly, making it a very easy way to overdose on meth. Smoking meth may result in an ongoing but unexplained cough. People who inject meth are at a very high risk of sharing needles and spreading blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDs. Injecting meth into the body usually creates needle marks or “tracks” all over a person’s arms. Injecting can also result in skin infections and other recurring issues with the skin that may be visible.

Meth Intoxication and Side Effects

I saw Macy high for the first time a few weeks later. I had stopped by to borrow a textbook from her, and she was acting very strange. She was running all over the apartment doing chores. She would get really intensely focused on one task and then move on to the next one with the same level of intensity. I reached out and grabbed her arm, trying to get her to focus on me while I asked her a question, and she was warm to the touch. After using meth, a person gets a rush as soon as the drug makes its way to the brain. The rush often feels like intense, overwhelming euphoria (joy) and meth can last up to 30 minutes. After that, the remaining high, which is slightly less intense, can last as long as 16 hours. Following an intense meth high, a person may experience a crash where they have no energy and sleep for hours or even days at a time. After the crash, people often have a hangover where they are dehydrated and starving while also being emotionally and physically exhausted. Meth intoxication often has side effects that can include:

  • Improved attention span
  • Euphoria or a false sense of overwhelming joy and happiness
  • Intense or unusually high amounts of energy
  • Lower than normal appetite
  • Faster than normal heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat (beating at an unusual rhythm)
  • Feverish or abnormally high body temperature

Side Effects of a Meth Overdose

A meth overdose could be life-threatening. If you believe someone is overdosing, call 911 immediately. Once I was with Macy when she overdosed. I had come over because we had made plans earlier in the week to study. When I got there, I let myself in, and I couldn’t find her in the apartment. Finally, I found her in her bedroom. She was convulsing on the floor, and there was vomit around her lips and on her clothes. I immediately called 911, and luckily, the paramedics got there just in time to save her life. The doctors said she’d had a seizure brought on by taking more meth than her body could handle. Side effects of a meth overdose can include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Extremely fast or slow heartbeat
  • Chest pains
  • Stomach cramps
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real)
  • Fast breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever
  • Seizures

A meth overdose can potentially cause permanent damage and lead to other long-term health issues, including:

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Chronic psychosis (includes hallucinations and paranoia, meaning fear of someone or something)
  • Brain damage resulting in learning disabilities or poor brain function
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart and vein damage, which could lead to heart attacks or heart failure
  • Muscle death, which can lead to amputation
  • Strokes
  • Seizures after the overdose due to damage to the nerves

In extreme cases, meth overdoses can lead to coma or death. Strokes and seizures can lead to many serious long-term health issues, including severe brain damage. [inline_cta_two]

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Meth Use?

After the overdose, things didn’t change — they only got worse. Macy kept doing worse and worse in school until she eventually ended up on academic probation and then eventually dropped out of school. Her teeth got really bad. They were all stained, and a few of them fell out, but she couldn’t afford to get them fixed. She was a lot more aggressive than she used to be, too. She would pick fights with me when I tried to talk to her. Macy also lost a lot of weight. She looked like skin and bones, and she couldn’t gain it back. Long-term meth use can be extremely hard on the human body and can lead to many health problems. Long-term side effects of regular meth use include:

  • Addiction to meth
  • Increased tolerance to meth
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive compulsive physical behavior or ticks (like rocking, tapping, or shaking involuntarily)
  • Brain damage, which may lead to a lack of impulse control or the inability to handle stressful situations
  • Worsened cognitive skills (ability to think critically and clearly)
  • Being easily distracted
  • Worsened short- and long-term memory
  • Rapid mood swings (suddenly going from happy to sad without warning)
    • Increased violent or irrationally angry behavior
  • Extreme dental issues like staining, tooth rot, and cavities
  • Weight loss and an inability to gain weight
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to lungs due to smoking
  • Damage to veins due to injecting
  • Damage to nasal cavity due to snorting

Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

Macy didn’t like how her addiction made her feel, and sometimes she would try to quit by herself. I told her that meth addiction treatment was the way to go, but she wouldn’t listen to me. Whenever Macy tried to quit, she would go through withdrawal. She would get really intense cravings. She would also have headaches and muscle aches. She would become really anxious and depressed as well. Sometimes she would spend an extra long time in the bathroom. I, her other friends, and her family all supported her efforts, but without professional help, she couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms and kept going back to the meth. Withdrawal from meth is not usually deadly. However, it can be uncomfortable. Detoxing should only be done under the supervision of an experienced, qualified medical professional. Symptoms of meth withdrawal can include:

  • Intensified cravings for meth
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness that does not go away with rest)
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation

Treatment at Vertava Health – Texas

Finally, we convinced Macy to get treatment. At first, she really wanted to end her addiction by herself. But after receiving treatment, Macy realized how much easier and safer it is to detox and start the recovery process with the help of trained medical professionals. She is doing much better now. She is even planning on going back to college next semester. Here at Vertava Health Texas, we offer high-quality treatment for meth addiction. We offer an inpatient program, which is often a necessity for people who are addicted to meth or commonly relapse back into meth use. While there are no FDA-approved medications to treat meth addiction, we offer quality cognitive therapy, which is a safe, proven method to treat addiction. We also offer and monitor medications to reduce the discomfort a client may have during the detox process. Therapy options we offer at Vertava Health Texas include:

  • Mindfulness and stress-management practices
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Adventure therapy
  • Recreational and art therapies
  • Family therapy and support
  • Dual-diagnosis treatment

We also recognize that addiction often does not occur alone. Many people who struggle with an addiction to meth also struggle with mental illness and other issues, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. We offer a dual diagnosis program to treat co-occurring mental health disorders that may be impacting a client’s substance use disorder.

Get Help From Vertava Health – Texas Today

Does Macy’s story remind you of yourself or a loved one? The side effects of meth use can be very harmful. You and your loved ones deserve the opportunity to take your life back. Today is the day to get help. Call us at (888) 759-5073.