Meth Addiction Health Risk Factors

Learn about the different meth addiction risks and symptoms, warning signs, and risks.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a psychoactive drug similar to amphetamine that is dangerously addictive and illegal. It’s popularly used because of the strong euphoric effects it produces, which are similar to cocaine. However, the health effects of meth have a more long-lasting impact than cocaine, and it’s simple to create with readily available substances. This explains why it’s less expensive and readily available. Street names for this drug include chalk, crank, ice, crystal, meth, and speed.1

Methamphetamine was discovered in the late 19th century, where it was first used as a nasal decongestant and a respiratory stimulator. However, in time, it became clear that methamphetamine was dangerously addictive. As a result, the drug has been added to the Schedule II list of controlled substances. This classification means that people can’t legally purchase it except with a prescription from authorized health personnel.1

Despite this regulation, however, the fact that methamphetamine can be produced with readily available materials and its euphoria-causing effects mean it has remained an abused drug.
Meth addiction Health Risks

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How It Works

Methamphetamine’s euphoric effects are caused by the body’s release of extremely high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that controls motivation, pleasure, and motor performance.1

Methamphetamine, just like many other stimulants and drugs of abuse, is commonly abused in a “binge” pattern. This means that to retain the initial “high” the drug produces, individuals take more of the drug before the first dose wears off. This, however, results in meth health risks as high amounts of dopamine make the medication increasingly toxic to nerve terminals in the brain.1

Understanding Meth Addiction

Because meth affects reward-related areas of the brain, it’s always tempting to take another dose. Some people binge for several days, denying themselves food and sleep while abusing the drug until it’s no longer as effective as it should be (at that particular dose).1 This, of course, results in increased drug dosage and a corresponding increase in meth health risks (dangers of meth).
The decision-making areas of the brain are altered by regular meth use. For example, the decision to become high is made consciously in the brain’s prefrontal cortex the first few times a person uses meth. However, with continuous use, this choice is eventually passed over to the hindbrain, which is in charge of involuntary actions like blinking and breathing.

This, in turn, causes methamphetamine abuse and can become so habitual that it becomes uncontrollable, leading to increased meth health risks. These meth health risks are treatable, and the health effects of meth in the brain, particularly changes in brain function, are reversible, although this can take years.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Meth Abuse

A person might ask, “How dangerous is meth?” The answer: meth is one of the most deadly substances on the market because of the enormous psychological and physical toll it takes on the body. Individuals who use meth display a wide range of behavioral and physical signs (meth side effects). The following are some of the most prevalent indications of meth use.

Hyperactivity

According to research, hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequently observed meth addiction symptom linked to various high-risk behaviors. This means that individuals who use meth have a high prevalence of ADHD (meth side effects).2

Reduced Appetite

Another symptom linked with meth addiction is reduced appetite. Reduced appetite is a pretty common meth addiction symptom, and it’s recurrent in substance abuse cases. This reduced appetite is a product of the euphoric effects meth produces. People on meth are so preoccupied with getting their next high that they gradually lose interest in eating. This reduced appetite results in weight and muscle loss (meth side effects).

Paranoia

Psychosis is one of the severe meth health risks. Psychosis is a mental illness that affects people’s ideas and emotions, leading to paranoia or hallucinations. People who have psychosis may have hallucinations and delusions at the same time.
Meth-induced paranoia often results in increased aggression as individuals may begin to feel like someone is out to “get” them. This feeling of paranoia is reinforced by delusions and hallucinations that also accompany meth use.

Rotting Teeth

Rotting teeth is one of the most common meth health risks. It’s usually most commonly observed among individuals with chronic meth use. Repeated methamphetamine use causes significant dental decay to the point where most teeth rot or need to be extracted, a condition known as “meth mouth.” The possible causes of this condition could include dry mouth, teeth grinding/clenching, and even lack of dental hygiene.

Skin Sores

Meth-induced psychosis can also result in an inability to control urges. As a result, people who use meth become more impulsive and obsessive may pick or scrape their skin, resulting in visible wounds known as meth sores. Picking at their skin causes ulcers, abscesses, and infections, meaning those who use meth are more likely to suffer from these issues.

Meth Addiction Health Risk Factors

How dangerous is meth? There are several dangers of methamphetamine use and abuse. These meth health effects can either be a short-term or long-term health risk of meth addiction.

Short-Term Effects of Meth

Short term risks of methamphetamines include:
  • Faster breathing
  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hypothermia
  • Violent and erratic behavior
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Paranoia and psychosis

Seizures, convulsions, and death are also possible dangers of meth use, mainly when used in extremely high doses.3

Long-Term Risks of Meth

Long-term effects of meth use are usually more severe and difficult to treat/manage. They may include:3
  • Heart problems and stroke result from damage to the heart and blood vessels
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Lung damage which results in the occurrence of several respiratory problems
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Parkinson’s disease due to damage to the brain’s dopaminergic nerve cells and receptors
  • Severe dental problems (extreme tooth decay)

Treatment for Dependence

While there is no “medication” perfect for treating meth side effects, several approaches to meth addiction treatment have been successfully utilized for safe withdrawal and recovery from the drug.

Meth addiction Health Risks

Intervention

An intervention usually helps encourage an individual who uses meth to seek treatment for recovery where other forms of confrontation have failed. It usually involves the individual’s loved ones and an intervention specialist coming together to prepare a meeting where the individual is confronted about their disorder. The goal is to persuade them to seek treatment in a gentle manner.4

Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy are also essential in recovery from the health effects of meth. In fact, behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management strategies, are now the most effective meth addiction treatments.5

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to alter behavior to break drug abuse cycles. CBT focuses on developing new, drug-free methods to deal with stress in everyday life. It’s based on understanding each individual’s particular responses to environmental or emotional stimuli, preventing the unpleasant impulsive reaction, and replacing it with a healthy alternative.6

Cognitive management intervention, another type of addiction therapy, is focused on reward-based motivation. In addition to counseling, this program rewards receiving treatment and sustaining abstinence.6

Motivational Rewards for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR) is one approach that uses motivational incentives and is a successful treatment option for methamphetamine addiction recovery.6

The Matrix Model

The matrix model is a 16-week behavioral treatment program. In this model, behavioral therapy is combined with family education, counseling, a 12-Step program, drug testing, and the promotion of non-drug-related activities.6

Aftercare and Support Groups

After rehab, continued support is critical for individuals to maintain long-term sobriety, and joining a support group is one of the most effective ways to do so. Two of the most common support organizations for individuals recovering from meth addiction are Narcotics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous. Former individuals who used meth might find a sense of community through these organizations. In addition, former individuals will also have access to assistance from people in recovery who can relate to them.

Get Help for Meth Addiction Today

After a successful intervention, detox is most often the next phase in addiction treatment. The detox process involves safely removing methamphetamine from the body via careful tapering of the drug dose. Although this process can be performed as inpatient or outpatient treatment, a medical expert must continuously monitor the therapy.

The inpatient therapy option is usually more preferable in this case since it allows doctors to monitor a patient around the clock and administer drugs to keep the individual comfortable and stable during withdrawal periods. There is also the fact that inpatient care enables the individual to avoid external distractions and focus on getting better. The healing process should take place at a professional facility such as that at Concise Recovery.

Reach out to our team at Concise Recovery today to learn more about our treatment options for meth addiction. You do not have to face recovery alone; we are ready to help you recapture a life of healing and purpose.