The long-term effects of meth, short for methamphetamine, can be severe. One of the most devastating is addiction, which involves compulsive use and drug-seeking behavior. This behavior is accompanied by molecular and functional changes in the brain and body. However, there is hope for addiction recovery with the support of a meth addiction treatment program.
The side effects of meth use can last for months or years, even after a person has recovered from addiction. Some of the effects of chronic use can be at least partially reversible. If you or someone you love has a meth addiction, call the caring staff at A Better State at 781.412.1488.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive illegal stimulant drug that can be ingested orally, smoked, injected, or snorted. There is no legal use for it. It can be made into a powder, a pill, or a shiny rock called crystal meth. Crystal meth can be smoked in a pipe.
During the early 20th century, methamphetamine was created to be used as a bronchial inhalant and nasal decongestant. However, its potency caused more harmful long-term effects than intended, some of which included decreased appetite, hyperactivity, erratic mood swings, and violent behavior.
How Does Methamphetamine Work?
When a person first begins using meth, it creates a fast rush of pleasant feelings – a high. However, they can suddenly feel angry, paranoid, afraid, overly excited, and edgy. Meth is a substance that is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to addiction.
Meth has an immediate, potent effect on a person’s nervous system. It alters the dopamine system, controlling critical body functions such as movement, motivation, and verbal learning. It can quickly release strong dopamine levels in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and rewards, which reinforces the drug-taking behavior.
Since the high from meth starts and stops quickly, people “binge and crash” frequently and take repeated doses to maintain the pleasurable effects and ward off the negative ones.
Side Effects of Meth Use
Taking even small amounts of meth can result in devastating side effects, some of which include:
- Violent behavior
- Mood disturbances
- Obsessive scratching of the skin
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Decreased appetite
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Risky behavior
The above side effects of meth can remain for extended periods after a person recovers from addiction, becoming semi-permanent or permanent effects.
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
There are additional severe long-term effects of meth. The drug can alter a person’s decision-making ability and judgment. Those who inject meth are also at increased risk for infectious diseases like hepatitis B and HIV.
Serious long-term effects can include all of the above, as well as:
- Intense itching and skin sores
- Memory loss
- Permanent brain damage
- Extreme paranoia
- Extreme weight loss
- Severe dental problems
- Temporary or permanent changes in brain function and structure
- Impaired speaking ability
- Severe emotional problems
- Severe cognitive issues
- Cardiovascular damage
- Severe skin problems and premature aging
- Deficits in motor skills
The ultimate long-term and permanent result of using meth is, of course, death. In addition, people who use methamphetamine are at an increased risk of stroke. The drug can also lead to a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease, which is irreversible.
Get the Help You Need at A Better State
The process of recovering from meth addiction should be done under the supervision of health professionals who can give you the support, tools, education, and guidance you need and deserve.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a meth addiction, limit the risk of the long-term effects of meth use and reach out to A Better State now at 781.412.1488 for help.