Physical Side Effects of Meth Use
Meth has profound effects on the body. It changes the chemistry of the brain leading to many physical changes. Just one use of the drug can cause the following side effects:
- Loss of appetite
- Flushed skin
- Fidgeting, tremors and teeth grinding
- Fast breathing
- Dry mouth
With the extended use of meth, these side effects can become chronic problems. For example, teeth grinding combined with the dry mouth leads to “meth mouth.” Meth abusers often lose their teeth and develop sores on their gums. This is made worse by the psychological effects of the drug that discourage hygiene like brushing teeth.
Similarly, meth abusers can develop sores on their bodies from scratching and fidgeting while they’re high. The loss of appetite can also make them go days without eating, and meth abusers are often too thin. This increases the potency of the drug, making it even more damaging.
The physical effects of meth on the heart and brain are especially severe. Extremely high doses cause brain damage and neurotoxicity. Long-term use is associated with a risk of Parkinson’s disease and a shrinking of the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory.
Behavioral Side Effects of Meth Use
The psychological effects of meth can cause more problems. Even a single use can cause strange behaviors. Most of this is related to the intense concentration caused by meth. Users may engage in repetitive activities like stacking or organizing objects. They may become so engrossed that they forget commitments or other tasks. They may also stay awake for several days then crash and miss school or work because they’re sleeping.
On top of all this, the stimulant properties of meth cause false confidence that can lead to dangerous impulsive behavior. For instance, meth abusers are at risk for sexually transmitted infections because they may have unprotected sex. Similarly, injecting meth with shared needles can spread HIV or other diseases.
The extremely high highs and low lows of meth can also cause anxiety and depression that could lead to suicide or violence. Mixing meth with other drugs like opioids is especially dangerous and can make people irritable and aggressive towards themselves or others.
One of the worst side effects of meth is addiction. Meth affects many chemicals in the brain like dopamine that control reward-seeking behavior. Normally, these chemicals make you feel good which makes you want to repeat the action that caused them.
This means you can get addicted to meth in as little as one dose. After you take the drug, you feel sad and anxious without it. Your brain wants to repeat the behavior that released the dopamine, in this case taking meth. This starts the cycle.
The risk of addiction only increases with long-term use. This is because the body builds a tolerance to the drug. You have to keep taking more and more to get the same effects. As this goes on, the withdrawals when you stop taking it gets worse. This makes it difficult to quit.
As people start taking larger doses of methamphetamine, the risk of overdose goes up. Extremely high doses cause dangerous physical states like abnormal heart rhythms and high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to stroke or heart attack. The neurological effects can cause seizures that can result in coma or death.
Meth overdoses are made worse by the lack of antidote. While doctors usually give medication to help save people overdosing from other drugs, researchers have yet to develop such a treatment for meth.
Signs of Abuse and Addiction
Since meth is so dangerous, even taking it once illegally is abuse. People who abuse meth often show a lot of physical and behavioral changes. If you’re worried yourself or a loved one might be struggling with meth addiction, keep an eye out for these signs:
- Cravings for meth
- Withdrawals or inability to quit taking meth
- Problems at work, school or home
- Quitting other hobbies and activities
- Frequently missing appointments or responsibilities
- Driving under the influence of meth
- Physical deterioration, including losing teeth, sores and weight loss
- Abnormal sleep patterns like staying awake for long periods and then sleeping for long periods
Seek Treatment Before Symptoms Get Worse
As you can see, meth abuse is a downward spiral that only gets worse. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from meth addiction, don’t wait to get help. With the professional treatment at Bedrock Recovery Center, you can break the meth’s addictive cycle and reclaim your health. Call today to get started.