Meth Side Effects: Short-Term & Long-Term Effects

Understanding meth side effects, including the short-term and long-term effects on the mind and body, can help to identify if someone is abusing this stimulant drug and the extent of use.

There are several meth side effects, including short-term and long-term effects, that can cause extensive damage to the brain and body depending on the longevity of abuse.

Meth abuse signs and symptoms are directly related to the side effects of short-term use and the more severe physical and mental effects of chronic meth addiction.

What Are The Effects Of Meth Intoxication?

Methamphetamine (meth), or crystal meth is a powerful stimulant drug abused for the intense high it produces, spiking dopamine or the reward neurotransmitters in the brain.

The immediate effects of methamphetamine cause people to experience a rush of euphoria and full-body stimulation, when meth crosses the blood-brain barrier.

The comedown from a meth high and the resulting drop in dopamine levels incentivizes repeated use at higher doses, in attempts to sustain the effects of meth intoxication.

As tolerance and dependence increase, the desired effects of meth become harder to achieve and the adverse short-term effects will become more severe with long-term use.

Short-Term Effects Of Meth Use

The effects of meth are caused by stimulation of the central nervous system. The side effects can be short-lasting, with the potential to increase and worsen with repeated use.

Short-Term Mental Side Effects

The immediate short-term effects of meth on brain function can present in mental signs and symptoms that may be present as unusual and concerning behaviors.

Some typical short-term side effects of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • intense euphoria
  • increased focus and attention
  • hypervigilance
  • decreased fatigue
  • mood swings
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • aggressive behavior
  • paranoia

Short-Term Physical Side Effects

Methamphetamine affects not only the central nervous system but also the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, resulting in a variety of physical side effects.

Short-term physical side effects of meth substance abuse may include:

  • increased body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • extreme wakefulness
  • hyperactivity
  • dilated pupils or “meth eyes
  • restricted blood vessels
  • elevated blood pressure
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • rapid respiration
  • loss of appetite

Long-Term Effects Of Meth Use

The longer meth abuse continues, the more adverse effects there will be on physical and behavioral health, with increased damage to the body’s vital organs and systems.

As addiction accelerates, mental and physical health will rapidly decline due to the hyper-stimulatory effects on the central nervous system and all related functions.

Long-Term Effects On The Mind

Studies have shown how the effects of long-term methamphetamine addiction can structurally change the brain and severely impair cognitive and emotional functions.

What does meth do to the brain? The brain is extremely vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of meth and can sustain extensive damage as a result of chronic abuse.

The following long-term effects can impair mental function:

  • severe anxiety
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • delirium
  • paranoia
  • meth psychosis
  • hallucinations
  • violent behavior
  • memory loss
  • brain damage
  • seizures

Long-Term Effects On The Body

The long-term effects such as malnutrition, sleep deprivation, lack of hygiene, and the risks associated with meth and sex can cause extensive damage to physical health.

Can you still sleep on meth? No; the body cannot sustain its many functions with severe sleep deprivation and will deteriorate as a result of prolonged meth-induced insomnia.

Long-term effects of meth abuse and addiction may include any of the following:

  • meth skin picking
  • skin sores from scratching
  • meth mouth or dental decay
  • cardiac issues
  • malnutrition
  • meth weight loss
  • increased risk of hepatitis

The stressful impact of methamphetamine can put people at high risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as Parkinson’s disease and irreversible neurological conditions.

Due to the extreme stimulation and stress on the central nervous system, people are known to scratch themselves obsessively, causing meth sores and other skin problems.

Meth mouth is the term that refers to the severe dental damage caused by long-term addiction to methamphetamine, which may depend on the manner of use.

What Is Tweaking On Meth?

Tweaking is a slang term for a condition that follows a meth binge, during which people can experience extreme agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis.

The symptoms of tweaking are often compared to those of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson’s disease, such as tremors and repetitive impulses.

Punding is another slang term that describes obsessive behaviors and physical tics, such as scratching at one’s skin, which causes skin conditions known as meth face.

The behavioral abnormalities associated with tweaking are caused by the neurotoxic effects of meth and the neurological damage of prolonged and repeated use.

Meth Withdrawal

With long-term drug use, meth withdrawal is common for people with high tolerances and chemical dependence. Side effects of withdrawal are both physical and mental.

Meth detox is recommended to monitor withdrawal symptoms and effects, including delusions, hallucinations, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and severe cravings.

Navigating Treatment Options For Addiction

Being physically and mentally addicted to a dangerous substance like methamphetamine is a medical issue that is best resolved with professional treatment.

If someone you know or a loved one is using methamphetamine and cannot control their use, referring them to a treatment center could help save a person’s life.

Spring Hill recovery Center offers a variety of treatment options, including evidence-based addiction therapy and specialty services.

Call one of our addiction specialists to learn about the help and support for addiction recovery that is available at our inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse – What is methamphetamine?
  2. VeryWell Mind – Methamphetamine: Effects, Risks, and How to Get Help
  3. WebMD – Side Effects Of Meth Use That You Probably Didn’t Know

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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