Meth or methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that impacts the central nervous system (CNS). It is incredibly addictive and longer-lasting than its parent drug, amphetamine. Your body will take at least 12 hours to eliminate 50% of the drug from your system.
Similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine can lead to:
However, unlike amphetamine at similar doses, more methamphetamine can enter the brain.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug. This means that it has a high potential for abuse and could result in severe psychological and physical dependence.
Its common street names include:
A legal, pharmaceutical form of methamphetamine is available as a non-refillable prescription to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder in which a person falls asleep without warning at inappropriate moments throughout the day.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that causes a person to be overly active or have trouble focusing and managing impulsive behaviors.
An estimated 1.6 million people in the United States reported using methamphetamine in the last year.2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
Methamphetamine may have the following short-term side effects:
Long-term side effects may include:
Methamphetamine use carries many health risks.
For example, people who inject the stimulant drug have a higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C. This could happen because non-sterile drug equipment has blood or other bodily fluids containing the virus(es).
Similarly, injecting methamphetamine users can become heavily dependent and have difficulty overcoming financial difficulties and social problems. They may also have an increased risk of mental health problems.
Methamphetamine can also lead to changes in judgment and decision-making. This means that people on methamphetamine could participate in risky behaviors like unprotected sex and have an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections or sexual violence.
Finally, illegal methamphetamine production could expose people to harmful chemicals and possible burns and explosions. Life-threatening injuries and conditions may occur as a result.
One study has suggested that people who once took methamphetamine have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (a gradual nerve system disorder that impacts movement).A study by Curtin et al. in Drug Alcohol Dependency Journal
Rehab facilities are open and accepting new patients
Methamphetamine belongs to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule II classification group. This means that this drug has a high potential for abuse and can cause physical and psychological dependence.
Because methamphetamine is commonly misused, there is an increased risk of overdose.
The following are some explanations as to why a person may have a methamphetamine overdose:
There are two different types of methamphetamine overdose:
In acute methamphetamine overdose, a person may accidentally or purposefully take the drug and have life-threatening side effects. These side effects could include multiple organ failure, hyperthermia (higher body temperature), and more.
In chronic methamphetamine overdose, the negative health effects take place over time in someone who regularly uses the drug. This could include delusional behavior, repeated infections, and more.
If you overdose on methamphetamine, you may experience the following symptoms:
Low-level exposure to methamphetamine for a long time could damage as much as 50% of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that gives you the feeling of pleasure or happiness.
If you suspect a person is experiencing an overdose, you should call your local emergency number (911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
It is crucial to seek emergency medical help for a person who has taken methamphetamine and has bad symptoms. Because of the powerful effects of methamphetamine, you’ll want to be extremely careful around a person who has overdosed. This holds especially true if the person in question seems extremely excited or paranoid.
If the person is overdosing and experiencing a seizure, you’ll need to gently hold the back of their head and turn it to the side, if possible. This action can help prevent injury and asphyxiation (choking) by vomit. It is important not to stop the arms and legs from shaking or place anything in the person’s mouth.
If an individual overdoses on methamphetamines, go and get immediate medical help.
In overdoses (or acute intoxication), doctors may use physical restraints to prevent self-harm or harm to others. Physical restraints may be bandages or cuffs that restrict a person’s movement. People who overdose may turn hostile because of a methamphetamine-causing paranoia.
Doctors will aim to treat life-threatening signs and symptoms, if present, including:
Doctors may also administer benzodiazepines and antipsychotics for sedation and seizure management. If individual patients are awake, activated charcoal may be a treatment option. Activated charcoal helps bind toxins to it and limit the absorption of meth and/or other drugs in the digestive tract.
To help with urinary elimination of the drug and prevent sudden kidney failure, doctors may administer a crystalloid (mineral salts and other small, water-soluble molecules) intravenously (IV).
Death from methamphetamine toxicity is frequent. These deaths often include arrhythmias, intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding with the skull), and cardiogenic shock (when the body cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands).
Yes. Depending on case severity, a stimulant overdose could lead to irreversible damage.
Overdosing on stimulants can lead to very high blood pressure and body temperature. These clinical changes can put a lot of pressure on various body organs and cause them to function improperly or even fail.
An example is severe kidney failure, which may require dialysis (kidney machine) for the rest of a person’s life. Although doctors may provide treatment, the damage can be excessive and become permanent.
Also, long-term use of stimulants and stimulant overdose could result in memory loss and insomnia (difficulty sleeping).
In the case of methamphetamines, mental health problems may be long-lasting. This includes psychosis and chronic anxiety.
Finally, a large stimulant overdose can cause death.
If you or a loved one have problems overcoming a methamphetamine addiction, help is possible. Here is a list of some therapy options:
Currently, there are no drugs available to counteract the effects of methamphetamines or those caused by long-term abstinence. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has conceived a method called MIEDAR (Motivation Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery). The incentive-based approach has been shown to encourage cocaine and methamphetamine abstinence.
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
McKetin, Rebecca, et al. “Methamphetamine Addiction.” Principles of Addiction, Academic Press, 15 Feb. 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012398336700070X.
“Methamphetamine Overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Feb. 2021, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007480.htm.
“Methamphetamine.” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration , United States Government, www.dea.gov/factsheets/methamphetamine.
NIDA. "Methamphetamine DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16 May. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine Accessed 23 Feb. 2021.
NIDA. "What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 8 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states Accessed 23 Feb. 2021.
Richards, John R. “Methamphetamine Toxicity.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Nov. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430895/.
“What Treatments Are Effective for People Who Misuse Methamphetamine?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9 Apr. 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-people-who-misuse-methamphetamine.