Meth Abuse And The Risk Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. This complication of diabetes can be triggered by heavy methamphetamine use. The surest way to avoid health complications caused by meth use is to seek effective care for addiction.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Methamphetamine is a strong and powerful stimulant drug that increases energy and alertness by acting on dopamine neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.

Meth is an illegal drug people use recreationally that has many negative effects on the body. The drug increases a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Heavy meth use can drastically affect a person’s weight and diet.

For someone who has diabetes or who is at risk for diabetes, the effects of methamphetamine abuse can put them at a particular risk for a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

How Meth Use Affects Blood Sugar Levels

While someone is on a meth high or binge, they typically have no appetite at all.

Someone who is abusing meth on a regular basis may experience severe and sudden weight loss. Many people with meth addictions report that sugar is the only food they crave and eat or drink.

This is usually because meth causes dry mouth, which in turn causes people to crave sugary drinks and foods.

Thus, one of the side effects of meth is developing a high-carbohydrate and sugar diet, which can send blood glucose levels soaring.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar drops to levels below normal. It is a fairly common condition in the United States.

This condition could easily occur in someone who abuses meth, because their blood sugar levels fluctuate as they alternate between eating high-sugar foods and drinks and eating nothing at all.

Meth Effects On People With Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that is sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, the latter because it usually appears in children and young adults.

This type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin. What causes type 1 diabetes is usually not clear.

A buildup of sugar in the blood, or hyperglycemia, is more likely with meth use.

This condition is dangerous to people with type 1 diabetes, who are already prone to ketoacidosis, a diabetic condition wherein the body produces too many blood acids (ketones).

Continuous high blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes may experience damage to blood vessels, nerves, and their organs.

Meth Effects On People With Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes but it can actually occur at any age, though most commonly in adults. This type of diabetes generally occurs as a result of poor diet and obesity.

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the body’s processing and regulation of sugar (glucose).

Someone using a large amount of meth regularly may find their diet so altered and unhealthy that this type of diabetes could potentially develop in the long-term.

Metabolic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when a person’s insulin is extremely low and the liver starts producing ketones, which make the blood acidic.

This condition can occur with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, though it is much more common with type 1.

A person addicted to meth who also has diabetes is potentially putting themselves at risk for this life-threatening condition as their blood sugar levels fluctuate around their meth use.

Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms are often pretty quick to come on, usually within 24 hours.

Stomach Pain

People with diabetic ketoacidosis have described severe abdominal pain as one of the main symptoms.

Nausea And Vomiting

Diabetic ketoacidosis can cause nausea and vomiting which can in turn help lead to the dehydration that also results from this condition.

Excessive Thirst

One of the most distinctive symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis is excessive thirst as well as excessive urination.

Shortness Of Breath

Shortness of breath can feel different to different people but is generally described as a sensation of having difficulty breathing. Some people also describe it as a tightness in their chest.

High Glucose Levels

High blood sugar level is a common problem for people with diabetes, or can be a sign that a diabetes diagnosis is soon to come. It can also be a symptom of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Treatment Options For Meth Addiction

An addiction to crystal meth or other amphetamines has the potential to completely take over a person’s life and impact their health, job, and personal relationships.

If you or someone you know is living with this type of addiction, consider substance abuse treatment.

Treatment programs for meth addiction include:

  • residential treatment
  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • outpatient treatment
  • individual counseling
  • medical detox
  • medication management
  • case management
  • relapse prevention planning

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or someone you love are battling an addiction to meth or another form of drug use, give us a call at Bedrock Recovery Center.

No matter what stage of the recovery process you are in, we can guide you along your way.

Starting treatment for a substance use disorder can be a scary and intimidating task, but you deserve to live a healthy and happy life. Reach out to Bedrock today to learn about the treatments we offer.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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