Your first fix of meth starts with a deep inhale. You hold your breath for a second and allow the moment to fully sink in. Then it hits you like a bolt of lightning.

You can feel your heartbeat soar and blood coursing through your veins. This state of mental instability has started to feel normal despite its erratic nature.

This coveted rush you chase so badly, however, always ends with a crash. You’re forced to lose hours or days to an almost lifeless sleep. When you do wake up, you’re left to deal with a hungover mind and body in despair. You’re dehydrated, starved and exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally.

Every time you hit these devastating walls after abusing meth, you swear the high is never worth it. Yet, as withdrawal sets in you believe using it again will make your problems go away.

While highly effective at creating a false sense of confidence, happiness and energy, meth is a poison that quickly begins to destroy the body.

If you use or a loved one is addicted to methamphetamine and have acknowledged that you must become clean, recovery starts by understanding what your drug of choice is really doing to your health.

Keep reading to learn about the effects of meth use and the detox and recovery support that is available if you’re ready to quit your addiction once and for all.

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Short-Term Effects of Meth on the Body

Meth is one of the most potent and addictive drugs in our society. It can be smoked, injected, snorted or eaten. Meth primarily affects the central nervous system. When it reaches the brain, it immediately signals the release of an excess amount of dopamine, a vital neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure system. Dopamine also influences important daily behaviors such as movement, emotion and memory.

Once the brain is flooded with the “feel good” chemical, an intense, euphoric high that can last on average six to eight hours overtakes the body. In addition to this feeling of intense pleasure, here are other short-term effects of meth use:

  • Dilation of pupils
  • Hyperexcitability/increased alertness
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep patterns/decreased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Erratic, sometimes violent behavior

In extreme cases:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Death from high doses

Long-Term Effects of Meth on the Body

A meth addiction typically starts after the body has built a tolerance to the drug, necessitating a higher
dose to achieve the coveted high. Once addiction seizes control over the mind and body, multiple health concerns and consequences develop.

The Effects of Meth on the Heart

As a stimulant, meth wreaks havoc on the heart. Any time meth enters the body, your heart rate significantly increases. Users who consume meth excessively and/or over a long period of time have a high risk of developing heart palpitations (powerful, abnormal heartbeats that feel like pounding) and/or an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat that feels like a skipped heartbeat).

Both are severe conditions that can cause an individual to collapse or enter cardiac arrest.

Meth also causes blood pressure to rise, which can lead to damaged arteries that block the blood flow to various organs in the body.

The Effects of Meth on the Lungs & Respiratory System

In a similar light, the stimulant effects of meth can cause an individual to experience rapid breathing, lightheadedness and fainting.

  • Smoking meth can cause the alveoli to bleed. The alveoli is the portion of the lungs responsible for gas exchange with the body’s blood supply. When this happens, a meth user will cough up blood.

Smoking meth can also destroy the small pulmonary blood vessels and lead to excess fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). As a result, a meth user can form a rare lung condition called pulmonary hypertension.

  • Snorting meth can cause a meth user to experience powerful coughs and severe respiratory damage such as:
    • Collapsed lungs
    • Air being released into the body from sources other than the lungs
    • Interstitial lung disease

The Effects of Meth on the Immune System

Meth can suppress the immune system and prevent an immune response. This can weaken the body’s natural ability to fight off disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi, leading to an increased susceptibility to infection.

  • Injecting meth with shared needles can result in HIV, a virus notorious for causing AIDS. Over time, the immune system breaks down and can no longer protect the body from catching harmful diseases.

The Effects of Meth on the Liver and GI Tract

For meth users who inject and share needles, the spread of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C are commonly transmitted. Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver and can lead to bleeding, jaundice, cirrhosis and nervous system damage.

The GI tract is affected when blood vessels in the intestines become constricted and prevent blood flow to the bowel. This can kill bowel tissue, resulting in perforation of the intestinal wall and peritonitis, which is a likely fatal infection that leads to septic shock.

The Effects of Meth on Skin and Teeth

A signature of meth use is compulsive skin picking. Attributed to either delusions, psychosis or the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin, meth users tend to scratch their face and arms in a repetitive manner that leads to open sores. Without a chance to heal, these open sores are often prone to infection. Additionally, chronic meth use can cause:

  • Severe acne
  • Weakened or lost skin elasticity
  • The skin takes on a leathery texture
  • The appearance of rapid aging

Another trademark of long-term meth use has been dubbed “meth mouth.” Meth use causes/leads to:

  • Dry mouth
  • Weakened saliva production leads to the body’s inability to fend off cavity-causing bacteria
  • Compulsive grinding

In conjunction with poor oral hygiene, a meth mouth can quickly change into cracked teeth, severe tooth decay, tooth loss and gum erosion.

The Effects of Meth on the Musculoskeletal System

Long-term meth use can lead to an increase in deep tendon reflexes (hyper-reflexive) and cause serious muscle twitching and tremors.

Additionally, the abuse of meth can result in rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition that involves the rapid deterioration of muscle tissue. When this happens, the toxic contents of damaged cells can be released into the bloodstream. This causes severe muscle pain, intense changes in electrolyte levels and irreversible kidney failure if not treated in time.

Life-Changing Meth Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

You only get one life and one body. Make the most of yours by putting meth addiction behind you. Regardless of where your addiction has landed you, you can stop using meth and get your entire life back on track.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your precise detox needs, successful recovery and sober re-entry into society is our top priority. At our holistic recovery center, our meth treatment program delivers all-encompassing methodologies of medical and physical treatment, psychology, holistic and experiential therapies and preparation to forge the drug-free future you desire.

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