Methamphetamine (meth) is an extraordinarily addictive and potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that can induce intense euphoria, suppress appetite, and increase energy and attention span. It is typically encountered on the illegal drug market as a white and odorless crystal powder or white or bluish rock-like substance known as “crystal meth.”
It is frequently used in a “binge-and-crash” pattern in which the user takes the drug repeatedly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Each time the stimulant is administered, the euphoria and other desired effects diminish, ending in a crash in which the user can no longer maintain the high.
Smoking meth routinely can lead to increased tolerance, chemical dependence, and addiction characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Repeated exposure to meth can cause pronounced changes in brain structure and functioning, which may impact cognition and emotions long-term. Other effects of meth use include skin sores, heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, and, in extreme cases, psychosis.
Side Effects of Meth Use
Chronic meth use can profoundly impact both the body and brain of the person using it. An addiction to meth can cause severe impairment in the user’s life, and adversely affect those around him or her as well. Physical consequences of meth use may include the following:
- Motor skills impairment
- Sexual dysfunction
- Malnutrition and weight loss
- Heart attack, stroke, or seizures
- Heart arrhythmia and palpitations
- Increased risk of HIV and hepatitis B and C
- Injuries due to impulsive behavior
- Skin sores from compulsive picking
Abusing meth for a prolonged period can also result in adverse mental or emotional problems such as the following:
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Violent behavior
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Memory impairments
- Tactile hallucinations
Even short term but repeated use of meth may increase the likelihood that a person will develop a physiological dependence. If a person abruptly stops smoking meth after developing a dependency, he or she may experience a litany of highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including the following:
- Reduced heart rate
- Increased appetite
- The inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Slow movements and thoughts
- Nightmares and insomnia
The Risks of Smoking Meth
When meth is smoked, it is heated then inhaled through a pipe. There are several adverse health consequences directly associated with smoking meth. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) states that you are more likely to develop a meth addiction if it is smoked rather than if it is used in other forms.
This is related to the speed in which meth reaches the brain when smoked, inducing a rush of intense pleasure nearly immediately. This rapid method of delivery can also increase adverse health effects related to drug use.
Another outcome particular to smoking meth is dental deterioration, commonly known as “meth mouth.” This condition is marked by mouth sores, gum disease, and tooth decay. These dental issues are typically a result of repeated grinding of teeth when intoxicated, in addition to inadequate dental hygiene and poor eating habits.
Additionally, recent studies on mice have suggested that inhaling meth increases the chances of pulmonary damage and contracting an infection of the lungs. Although studies haven’t been conducted using humans, this preliminary research reveals the potentially toxic properties of smoking meth.
Meth Abuse Treatment Options
There are many different effective treatment options available for those suffering from an addiction to meth. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers personalized, comprehensive treatment in partial hospitalization, outpatient, and intensive outpatient treatment formats.
We employ highly-skilled addiction specialists who are trained to deliver therapeutic, evidence-based services to clients with care and expertise. All of our programs include treatments vital to the recovery process, and include, but are not limited to the following:
Group counseling—A mental health professional facilitates a therapy session that focuses on the development of sober social skills and uses coping strategies in a peer group environment.
Individual therapy—Patients visit with a therapist one-on-one to address the underlying issues that contribute to meth use. Patients also learn how to develop healthier coping skills that can be used in stressful situations or to counteract relapse triggers.
12-step programs—Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous provides members with the support and encouragement they need as they work through the steps necessary to facilitate recovery. These programs are free to join, and the only requirement is that members seek to live a substance-free life. Regardless of which program you choose, we can provide you with the tools, resources, and support you need to experience a full recovery, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety.
If you or someone you love is abusing meth or other drugs or alcohol, please contact us today to discuss treatment options. We can show you how to begin your journey to recovery and help you every step of the way!