The‌ ‌Effects‌ ‌of‌ ‌Long-Term‌ ‌Meth‌ ‌Use‌

man addicted to meth slouched with his head low

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that is consuming our communities. Illegal meth can be created in meth labs by combining various harsh and dangerous chemicals that can easily be obtained. With accessibility and low costs to manufacture, homemade meth has become a massive problem throughout the United States, spiking widespread addiction, an increase in overdose cases, and ruining families.

According to a 2017 survey, approximately 1.6 million people reported that they had used methamphetamine within the previous year and that 774,000 reported that they had used it in the past month. In 2016, the average age of a methamphetamine user was 23.3 years old. Additionally, in 2017, it was estimated that 964,000 people aged 12 or older had a methamphetamine disorder.

Short-term Impact on Individuals

When taken, meth gives users a false sense of well-being and energy, causing individuals to push their bodies faster and further than it is meant to be pushed. Afterward, meth users can experience a severe “crash” or physical and mental breakdown once the effects of the drugs wear off. The effects of long-term meth use can be detrimental to a person’s overall health and livelihood.

With continued use of the drug, individuals may experience a decrease in the desire to eat, resulting in extreme weight loss. Other negative effects can also include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea
  • Delusions of power
  • Increased aggressiveness
  • Severe irritability
  • Confusion
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Convulsions, seizures

Long-term Impact on Individuals

For those who use meth long term, they can experience irreversible harm to their body and mind that may include:

  • Addiction
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe dental problems (also known as meth mouth)
  • Intense itching, leading to skin sores from constant scratching
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in brain structure and brain function
  • Severe memory loss and confusion
  • Violent and unstable behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

How Do People Use Meth?

Crystal meth can be snorted, smoked, eaten, or injected. It can be a powder that can be made into a pill or a crystallized rock. The powder can be eaten or snorted. When mixed with a liquid, meth can be injected intravenously. Crystal meth can also be smoked using a small glass pipe.

Due to the “high” of the drug fading quickly, people often take repeated doses in what is known as a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, individuals who use meth have been known to give up necessary things like food and sleep, as they continuously attempt to take the drug every few hours for several days.

The Dangerous Effects

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that continued methamphetamine use can cause changes in the brain’s dopamine system that have been associated with reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning. Studies have shown that long-term use causes severe changes affecting areas of the brain that directly affect emotion and memory. This would explain why individuals who use meth struggle with emotional and cognitive behaviors. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that those who once used meth have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease which is a disorder of the nerves that affects a person’s movement.

What Treatment is Available?

The most effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction is behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as contingency management intervention. Individuals struggling with a meth addiction can benefit from a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment approach that strives to combine behavioral therapy, family education, 1:1 counseling, 12-step meetings, drug testing, and a strong support system that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Contingency management interventions help to provide tangible incentives in exchange for participating in treatment while living a clean, sober lifestyle. Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR) is an incentive-based method that promotes abstinence from cocaine and methamphetamine. It has been shown to have positive outcomes for methamphetamine users through NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network.

Although individuals in treatment have received medications to help treat their substance use disorder, there are currently no medications that counteract the specific effects of methamphetamine or that help to eliminate the desire to misuse the substance.

Methamphetamine use continues to ravage our communities, taking control of individuals and ruining their families and lives. Individuals who become addicted to meth showed both short-term and long-term effects. Some short-term effects can include increased heart rate, delusions, and irregular sleep patterns while the long-term effects of continued meth use can include addiction, destruction of an individual’s overall health, as well as serious mental health issues such as depression and schizophrenia. The longer someone takes meth, the higher dosage they will need, and the more severe their dependency will be. Withdrawal symptoms can be managed through a medical detox regime that can be provided in a comprehensive treatment program. Although there are no medications designed specifically to treat meth addiction, there are certain medications that can help ease a person’s symptoms of withdrawal. Don’t wait any longer. Reach out to Achieve Concierge today to start your recovery journey. Call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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