A drug addict closing a bag of meth.

How Meth Affects the Immune System

It is no great surprise that methamphetamine is bad for your health. Multiple studies have shown that the drug attacks the body in a number of ways: from destroying organ performance to eroding dental hygiene to deteriorating neurological functioning, meth assaults the human body in a variety of extremely effective manners.

But even with all of this existing knowledge, it appears that recent studies have indicated yet another way in which meth is detrimental to those abusing the substance. There is mounting evidence that methamphetamine increases a person’s susceptibility to infection by crippling immune system functioning and facilitating disease transmission.

While the physical dangers of meth have been shown for decades, understanding how the drug negatively impacts the immune system is newer to researchers, but quickly proving to be just as detrimental as all previous knowledge concerning the illicit substance.1

The Negative Effects of Meth

Habitual meth use has a wide variety of negative effects on the human body. This is due to the drug’s ability to destroy human tissue and blood vessels, completely inhibiting the body’s ability to naturally repair itself. In the short-term, this results in:

  • Erratic sleep patterns and extreme bouts of insomnia
  • Complete loss of appetite resulting in severe nutrition deficiencies
  • Bizarre and sometimes violent behaviors
  • Hallucinations, excessive amounts of panic, and potential psychosis
  • Seizures and even death from overdose

While these typical symptoms associated with the use of meth can seem terrifying to most, to a meth addict, they quickly become a normal part of their daily lives. And although the short-term effects are so obviously destructive, the long-term effects carry even more impactful and alarming consequences.

They include:

  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels within the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, stroke and death
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Psychological dependence on the substance
  • Damage to the brain, similar to Alzheimer’s disease 2

Meth and the Immune System

With the recent resurgence of meth use around the country, researchers have begun to focus on the effects methamphetamine has on the immune system and how habitual use dramatically effects the body’s ability to fend off disease causing bacteria and viruses.

In particular, recent studies have shown methamphetamine to suppress killer T-cells, a type of white blood cell that fights off pathogens. This negative impact on T-cell memory population and T-cell activation has the ability to leave a meth addict unable to initiate a sufficient immune response to a number of infectious diseases.

Additionally, meth’s ability to dry out mucosal membranes and cause abrasions in the mouth and rectum might increase an addict’s vulnerability to debilitating infections without the ability to naturally fend off the experienced illness.

This is directly related to a meth addict’s increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne pathogens due to their addictive behaviors and drug administration routes.3

Skin Infections from Meth Use

In addition to the identified physical toll that meth use can have on various organs, teeth and immune system, habitual meth use can also deteriorate an addict’s skin and overall complexion. This is due in part to the toxic chemical compounds found in the substance as well as the compulsive behaviors habitual use induces in an addict.

Both short-term and long-term meth use can lead an individual to pick at their skin due to experienced compulsions often associated with delusions, psychosis, and even the feeling that bugs are crawling under the skin.

This picking and scratching can lead to infected wounds and sores, exacerbated by both the addiction and physical deterioration caused by the substance. Factor in decreased skin elasticity and excessive acne associated with meth addiction and an addict can fully expect to experience unhealthy skin texture and a deteriorating overall complexion.

The fact of the matter is that meth use has an extensive history of negative effects on the human body and an even longer saga of destroying the lives of those habitually using the toxic substance. Whether a person is casually abusing the drug or experiencing a full-blown addiction, the consequences associated with meth use can destroy them both mentally and physically.

Life-Changing, Holistic Meth Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Undoing the damage of meth addiction can be messy, extremely uncomfortable and some of the hardest work you do in your life. But, in order to have a life worth living, your addiction must end.

Your mind and body need significant attention and care during meth addiction treatment.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your successful recovery and sober re-entry into society is our utmost mission.

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.

Learn more about our meth addiction treatment program to start your journey toward detox and recovery.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

Resources:

1 The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunity. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290678/.

2 PBS Frontline. How Meth Destroys the Body. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/.

3 PLOS ONE. Methamphetamine Administration Targets Multiple Immune Subsets and Induces Phenotypic Alterations Suggestive of Immunosuppression. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049897.

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