Long-Term Effects of Meth

Methamphetamine, a white crystalline drug in the same class as cocaine, is a dangerous Schedule II drug with a high potential for abuse. Meth causes the release of dopamine, which produces an intense feeling of euphoria or pleasure. The initial effects also include increased confidence, energy and sexuality. Meth is illegally produced in the form of pills, powder, capsules and chunks, and it can be swallowed, snorted or injected intravenously. Long-term use leads to damage to the body, some of which can be life-threatening.

Changes in Appearance From Meth

Long-term meth use is impossible to hide. While it may make you feel that you are attractive and desirable during a “high,” the reality is that the physical signs show a completely different picture. Some of the signs that you may have include:

  • An aged appearance. Meth abuse results in tissue and blood vessel destruction, which inhibits the ability of the body to repair damage. Constricted blood vessels reduce the amount of blood flowing throughout the body and inhibit the ability of sores to heal. Your skin loses its glow and elasticity, thus adding years to your appearance.
  • Mouth damage. “Meth mouth” is a common term to describe the effects of meth use. Poor circulation from constricted blood flow causes dry mouth. As the salivary glands dry out, the acid in the mouth eats away the tooth enamel, resulting in cavities. More damage occurs with obsessive teeth grinding and poor dental care.
  • Weight loss. Meth use decreases the body’s natural hunger feelings, which can lead to extreme malnutrition and weight loss.

Psychological Effects of Meth Use

Addiction to meth resulting in long-term use can have negative mental effects, some of which are irreversible, including the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Death

Tweaking

According to the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research, tweaking is the most dangerous stage of long-term meth use. Tweaking occurs when an abuser goes without sleep for many days and their behavior becomes unpredictable. While the craving for meth becomes more intense, the ability to achieve an adequate high becomes illusive. Frustration increases and the tweaker may resort to violence, which can result in accidents, family disputes or criminal activity. If you are dealing with someone who is on meth and tweaking, you should use extreme caution.

Other Dangers

Long-term meth users are at a high risk for life-threatening diseases associated with intravenous drug use, such as AIDS. Contaminated syringes and needles increase the risk for infection in the bloodstream, which can affect your heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. Your immune system becomes weakened, which reduces your body’s natural ability to fight infections. Meth use during pregnancy can cause premature birth and birth defects, such as cleft palate, in your newborn.

Reach Out for Help

If you recognize your need for help or if you know someone who needs help getting off meth, give us a call. We have a qualified staff of professionals who will guide you through the process of recovery from meth addiction and abuse. Many of the best drug treatment options are available from the initial detox phase to long-term follow-up care to reduce your chance for relapse.