Smoking Meth: Side Effects And Dangers

Smoking is a common way that people use crystal meth. While it may help people avoid certain side effects of meth use, smoking meth is still a dangerous form of drug use.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Smoking through a glass pipe is one of the most common methods of meth use.

It comes with all of the dangers of general meth use, but with additional damage to your mouth, throat, and lungs.
Learn more about methods of meth use.

How Do People Smoke Meth?

People may smoke methamphetamine using a meth pipe, a small glass pipe that allows them to inhale the vapors. This leads to a near-immediate increase of dopamine and serotonin.

The effects of a meth high from smoking can last up to 12 hours, which is one of the reasons this method may be preferred.

Side Effects Of Smoking Meth

Methamphetamine can be addictive in as little as one dose. Once addicted, you’re unlikely to break the cycle without professional healthcare and addiction treatment.

Without help, you can expect all of the effects of meth addiction.

Meth Mouth

“Meth mouth” refers to widespread damage to the oral cavity. All forms of meth use can lead to “meth mouth.”

If you use meth, then you are more likely to sustain serious cavities and damage to your gums. According to the American Dental Association, 31% of people who use meth will lose at least six teeth.

In addition to lost teeth, blackened teeth and visible sores are often present in people who have been using meth.

Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth is another symptom of meth use. This particular symptom can make “meth mouth” more severe.

Saliva is our natural defense against oral bacteria. It rinses your mouth regularly, helping to remove small particles and bacteria.

Your saliva isn’t enough on its own to protect against tooth decay, but it certainly helps keep harm at bay. The dry mouth associated with methamphetamine use removes this protection.

If you use meth, dry mouth alone can make you more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

Weight Loss

Extreme weight loss is one of the hallmark symptoms of methamphetamine use.

Meth weight loss is caused by a combination of symptoms, including loss of appetite and an artificially increased metabolic rate.

You likely won’t get hungry very often when you’re using meth. If your drug addiction is severe, you may be too preoccupied with addiction cravings to eat.

When you are using meth, your heart rate, body temperature, and respiration rate all increase. Those changes force your body to expel more energy.

With that said, this weight loss is not healthy. The lack of nutrition can actually cause lasting damage to your organs.

Increased Risk Of Addiction

Methamphetamine is highly addictive. In some cases, a single dose can start a life-long substance abuse condition. Over time that addiction will only get worse.

You will find yourself using meth in new ways to get a faster, more intense high. You will find yourself needing larger amounts in smaller windows of time.

As you continue to engage in drug use, your risk of permanent organ damage and fatal overdose will rise exponentially.

Dangers Of Smoking Meth

Smoking crystal methamphetamine comes with all of the health risks listed above plus a few others.

Changes In Body Temperature

Meth use increases your body temperature. If your body temperature rises to dangerous levels, the condition is known as hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia is usually manageable with the help of a trained medical provider. Without treatment there could be damage to your brain and other vital organs.

Blood Pressure Changes

Like most stimulant drugs, methamphetamine increases your blood pressure. If you use meth repeatedly, then these increases in blood pressure will eventually cause damage.

Your blood vessels are flexible but only up to a certain point. As your blood pressure expands them past their natural form, they will begin to sustain wear and tear.

Damage To The Central Nervous System

Meth directly affects the reward center of the brain. It changes the way that specific receptors, especially dopamine, behave. These changes cause the high that you expect when you use meth.

Unfortunately, these same changes will damage your central nervous system. People who use meth show an increased presence of brain cells called microglia.

In a healthy brain, these cells would dispose of damaged neurons. In someone who uses meth, their overabundance results in the destruction of healthy neurons.

Damage to the central nervous system is likely responsible for the mental health conditions, psychosis, and cognitive impairment associated with methamphetamine abuse.

Fortunately, these changes appear to be largely reversible within a year or so of detox.

Lung Damage

Researchers are still working to understand where the lung damage from smoking meth starts and where the damage from general meth use begins. What is known is that meth causes lasting lung damage.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), meth use is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary oedema.

Does Smoking Meth Lead To Withdrawal Symptoms?

Regardless of how you use meth, you will likely experience meth withdrawal symptoms when you quit using it.

While smoking meth avoids some of the stigma associated with injection, it is still incredibly addictive.

Treatment Programs For Meth Abuse

If you or a loved one are abusing methamphetamine, then you should seek immediate help. Meth is highly addictive and incredibly dangerous.

The good news is there are harm reduction programs and meth treatment programs available to help. They will get you the support you need to safely go through detox and your addiction treatment.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is a full-service treatment center that offers a wide range of treatment options to fit every individual.

We offer inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and therapy options. Therapy can target your addiction and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is fairly common among people who use meth.

To learn more about how you can address the long-term side effects of smoking meth, call our Massachusetts rehab center today. It’s never too late to change your life.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. National Library of Medicine

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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