Crystal meth, also known as methamphetamine or meth, is an illicit drug that’s created by combining toxic chemicals and ingredients found in cold medicine. While meth is inexpensive and potent, it’s also extremely dangerous, addictive, and deadly for many users. Methamphetamine use wreaks havoc on all aspects of a person’s health and life. What does methamphetamine do to the body? It causes significant damage to internal organs, and many of the effects of chronic use are irreversible. If you are struggling with meth addiction or you are worried about a loved one, reach out for help today. Meth addiction treatment can help treat the effects of meth on the body so that you can focus on the path to lifelong recovery.
How Does Meth Work?
Meth is a central nervous system stimulant, which is part of the reason it’s so very addictive. When ingested, it goes to the user’s brain, creating signals that unleash a torrent of dopamine. In the natural sense, dopamine activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, but the level of dopamine released when taking methamphetamine is many times higher than what happens naturally.
The accelerated release of dopamine results in a euphoric state, but it triggers addiction as well. The user’s brain craves the high, which pushes them to take progressively higher dosages. Along with feelings of intense pleasure and happiness, meth typically increases a person’s physical activity and energy levels, as well as their alertness and sociability. Users aren’t likely to feel hungry or tired, and they often have increased attention spans. In the sections below, we’ll answer the question “What does meth do to your body?” but it’s equally important to understand how the drug affects brain function and chemistry.
The Short- and Long-Term Effects of Meth on the Body
While methamphetamine creates an intense high, it does so much more to the body. Many ask about the short-term effects of meth use, and they include:
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Elevated heart rate
- Potential brain hemorrhage
- Convulsions during overdose
- Lung collapse
Along with methamphetamine’s short-term effects, it has serious and devastating long-term physical consequences such as:
- Extreme, rapid weight loss
- Sleep deprivation and insomnia
- Damage to internal organs such as the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys
- Harm to nasal passages (when the drug is snorted)
- Skin conditions such as infections, abscesses, and sores
- Tooth decay (commonly referred to as meth mouth)
To further answer the question of what meth does to your body, it’s important to consider the drug’s cardiovascular effects. Methamphetamine puts a great deal of stress on the user’s heart, disrupting its normal rhythm. Not only does meth use damage the cardiovascular system, it also increases the user’s risk of heart attack and stroke. It constricts the veins and blood vessels, which causes the formation of blood clots. Furthermore, meth is toxic to the blood vessels; it causes rupturing that may lead to bleeding in the heart.
Methods of Administration
Below are a few answers to the question, “How is meth taken?”
- It can be taken intranasally (snorted)
- It may be injected intravenously, which gets it into the bloodstream faster
- It can be smoked, which causes rapid and severe lung damage
Although there are a few different ways to take meth, the devastating effects on the body are usually the same. Prolonged methamphetamine use damages the liver and increases the risk of liver failure and hepatitis. This is due to the numerous toxins contained in the drug, including battery acid, drain cleaner, paint thinner, Freon, and lithium. Meth may cause kidney failure due to increases in body temperature, as well as the breakdown of muscle tissues.
It’s important to consider the drug’s effects on users’ lungs when evaluating the effects of meth on the body. When methamphetamine is smoked, its toxins go directly into the lungs, causing severe damage. As the drug constricts the blood vessels, it inhibits blood flow to the lungs, leading to fluid accumulation.
What Meth Does to the Mouth – aka. Meth Mouth
When looking at methamphetamine’s effects on the human body, the mouth is a primary focus. Known as meth mouth, this scenario occurs when teeth decay and gums become red and swollen. Chronic methamphetamine users typically have gum disease and missing teeth because of the drug’s acidity, as well as the numerous toxins within. Now that the question of “What does meth do to your teeth?” has been answered, there are even more reasons to avoid this dangerous drug.
Recovering from Meth Addiction Is Possible
While the above list of meth’s effects on the body may seem frightening to many, it’s far from comprehensive. The unknown effects of meth not only damage the user’s body and life, they affect everyone around the person. Methamphetamine damages almost every part of the body, and it has severe effects on users’ lives, families, and relationships as well, which is why it’s such a horrifying drug. It is also notoriously hard to kick, and relapse is extremely common. Those who successfully beat a meth addiction generally undergo long-term addiction treatment and have a plan for life-long support.