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The Dangerous Short-term and Long-term Effects of Meth

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 3:38PM | Published on Feb 28, 2020 | Drug Addiction, Stimulants Addiction

The Effects of Meth

Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs one can use. In the short-term, the effects of meth on the brain can be severe and even deadly. But for long-term users, invisible damage is done to the brain every day. 

According to the CDC, millions of Americans use meth each year, and some become addicted. Meth use increased significantly last year in the United States. Data shows that meth is partially responsible for the increased rate of drug overdoses over the last several years.

Additionally, many users turn to meth because it’s relatively cheap and intense. While the problem is worse in some states, the drug is everywhere.

Health Impacts of Meth Use

Methamphetamine misuse, abuse, and addiction are hazardous. The impacts of meth can range from agitation to psychosis, and even short-term use can be fatal. The short-term effects of meth include:

  • Delusions, hallucinations, and also psychosis
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Loss of inhibition and high-risk behaviors, like IV use or unprotected sex
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures and fatal overdose

The longer someone uses, the worse the effect. Over time, (sometimes as short as months), the long-term effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Organ damage
  • Blood vessel, heart, and brain damage resulting in an increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Malnutrition
  • “Meth mouth”- severe tooth decay and loss
  • Psychosis, depression, and also anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Damage to tissues and veins from injection
  • Rhabdomyolysis: potentially fatal breakdown of muscles and kidney failure

One of the most severe impacts of meth is the damage it does to the brain. For long-term users, this can mean struggling with conditions similar to Parkinson’s disease.

The Effects of Meth on the Brain

Meth can cause psychosis, depression, addiction, agitation, anxiety, and also severe cravings. But even more alarming is the long-term damage it can do. Because meth affects the neurotransmitters, it changes the chemical signals the brain sends to produce feelings, thoughts, and responses. As a result, long-term meth use damages the parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, motor skills, and learning.

Generally, this results in symptoms similar to those seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease and also leads to brain damage. These symptoms may also include problems with coordination and speech, impaired memory, and tremors. Some studies show that meth users have higher rates of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Ultimately, meth damages the brain. Whether someone who uses meth develops symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or not, they may suffer symptoms of psychosis, depression, anxiety, or poor cognition long after they stop. For some users, these side effects can last over a year.

Can Someone Overdose on Meth?

Absolutely. Meth is one of the most addictive drugs out there. Considering some of the long-term effects of meth on the body, it’s not surprising that death and comma are among the possibilities of a meth overdose.

When someone uses excessive amounts of meth or continues to use meth for long periods of time, they have a higher risk of suffering a meth overdose. In most cases, people need instant medical attention to prevent death. 

Meth Abuse Treatment

In methamphetamine addiction treatment, the physical and mental impacts of meth use become part of the treatment plan. The individualized treatment of meth use often includes medical care, dental work, therapy, medication, and also psychiatric care. However, treating the symptoms of meth use doesn’t address the underlying problem: abuse and addiction.

Before someone can begin repairing the damage caused by meth, they need access to comprehensive addiction treatment. For meth users, this is especially important because it harms the brain and the way the user experiences emotions, perception, and thinking. 

Drug and Alcohol Detox

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening if someone attempts to go through the detox process alone. While the timeline for meth withdrawal varies, most users experience symptoms anywhere from two to three days to up to a week after their last use. Checking into an addiction treatment facility with a medically supervised drug detox program can help recovering addicts quit methamphetamines in a safe, secure, and comfortable environment that prevents severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, alongside other addiction treatment programs, can help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the type of situations that lead to their meth misuse in the first place. The idea of CBT is to attack the addictive behavior and rewire the brain to understand the triggers that lead to addiction. 

Group Therapy

Having a motivational and supportive system by their side is critical for any recovering addict. Through 12-step meetings and group therapy sessions, people can navigate the ins and outs of addiction. Most researchers believe talking about shared struggles in a safe and controlled environment can be beneficial for those struggling with addiction. 

Dual Diagnosis Programs

It’s also important to note if there’s any underlying mental health condition that triggers the addiction. In many cases, people who struggle with meth addiction also experience depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.

Also, methamphetamine users tend to combine it with other drugs such as alcohol, Xanax, and morphine to enhance meth’s effects and maintain the effects of meth for longer. The problem is, when they start quitting these substances, their withdrawal symptoms will be more intense and severe than those who don’t struggle with poly-drug addiction. 

Speaking with a dual diagnosis specialist that’s able to pinpoint both conditions is paramount for recovery. Through a dual diagnosis program, people will manage and evolve through treatment, tackling both conditions simultaneously to guarantee a better recovery. 

Seeking Addiction Treatment 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out. The effects of inhalants can be life-threatening, even after the first use. Through our dual diagnosis programs at Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we can help people understand their addictive behavior and the underlying causes.

We believe in offering customized addiction treatment plans that adapt to each person’s needs and experiences. Reach our admissions office today and ask about our addiction recovery programs. 

Molly

Molly

Molly is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Case Manager and Vocational Services. She has a Bachelor’s in International Relations, is a Certified Addiction Counselor, and it’s currently working towards her Master’s in Social Work. Molly’s experience allows her to provide expert knowledge about solution-based methods to help people in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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