What are the Long-term Mental and Physical Effects of Methamphetamine Addiction?

Few illegal drugs can change a person’s physical appearance as quickly and drastically as a methamphetamine addiction. While methamphetamine’s harmful effects can be seen on the outside of a person, the effects that are happening on the inside are just as dangerous and drastic.

Methamphetamine is a potent and highly addictive substance that can come in either powder, capsule or crystalline form, called crystal meth. Each form of the drug gives a person an intense, short-lived high, with increased energy, alertness, and focus. Meth can make a person hallucinate and engage in risk-taking behaviors. The drug can also make someone agitated, paranoid, and aggressive.

People will either smoke the crystalline form of the drug, snort powder meth or ingest a methamphetamine capsule or tablet. Long-term meth abusers are more likely to smoke crystal meth because it gives a quicker, more intense high. Crystal meth, also known as crystal or ice on the black market, is easier to use, obtain, and less expensive than meth that’s in a powder or capsule form.

Methamphetamine wasn’t always an illegal crystalline substance. The tablet or capsule form of the drug is a legitimate, legal pharmaceutical, although it is not very widely used anymore. In the early and middle part of the 20th century, legal pharmaceutical meth was used to treat obesity and narcolepsy. But legal methamphetamine is known to be highly addictive. So, newer, safer drugs came onto the market to treat these conditions.

Long Term Effects of Meth Addiction

About half a million people in the U.S. are currently addicted to methamphetamine. More than a million and a half people will try methamphetamine for the first time in a given year. The drug is so addictive in its crystal form that users can get hooked the first time they smoke it.

Unfortunately, what makes crystal meth so dangerous is that it is mixed and laced with so many different, corrosive chemicals that are toxic and poisonous to the human body. While no illegal drug is safe, crystal meth is especially dangerous and can cause a wide range of adverse, long-term health effects even after a person has quit and managed to maintain sobriety for many years.

Who is most at-risk of abusing meth and becoming addicted?

Anyone can become addicted to drugs. The powerful biological and neurological processes that occur when a person tries a drug are the same for everyone, and these processes create a system of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. No single known cause and risk factor will accurately predict who will get hooked on meth and who won’t, but there are a few known risk factors that can increase the chances of meth addiction.

  • Being Native American
  • Being a young male between the ages of 18 and 25
  • Living in the mid-west or western part of the U.S.
  • Having a low education level
  • Belonging to a lower socio-economic group
  • Having an incarcerated father

What are the long-term mental and physical consequences of meth addiction?

Doing drugs of any sort and getting hooked can have a significant, negative impact on a person’s quality of life. They will experience interpersonal strife and strain and also struggle at work or school. Drug addiction can also cause run-ins with the law, legal issues, and also create many additional financial pressures on the person who is addicted. The sooner they can get help for an addiction, the quicker they can get their life back on track and improve the quality of their life and relationships.

When it comes to methamphetamine, however, the drug can create a wide range of far-reaching mental and physical health consequences, both seen and unseen. When a person smokes meth, the chemicals that are activated in the drug are highly corrosive and acidic to the teeth and soft tissues. Meth will cause the gums to pull away from the bottom of the teeth, effectively killing the tooth and causing it to fall out. Users are also at-risk of mouth sores and ulcers that can become infected and cause further dental decay and pain. This is called “meth mouth” because it is a condition unique to methamphetamine addiction. Snorting meth will also lead to scarring in the nasal passages, chronic sinus issues, and infections. Long-term, snorting meth can lead to a collapsed septum and permanent disfigurement.

When people come down from a meth high, the drug will cause a hallucinogenic effect. Users may think bugs are crawling all over their skin. They will pick at the skin, open sores, and otherwise excoriate the skin. This will also cause permanent scarring and infections.

Methamphetamine also significantly impacts a person’s mental health and cognitive abilities. Studies on brain images of long-term meth abusers have found severe functional and structural changes in the brain related to memory, emotions, and verbal learning. Studies on methamphetamine addicts found that the drug will cause long-term reduced motor speed, verbal reasoning skills, and also alter the brain’s ability to release and regulate dopamine. Unfortunately, long-term meth abuse will impair a person’s cognitive and emotional skills.

Is there help for methamphetamine abuse?

Although meth is a powerful drug that can impair a person long-term, it’s possible to recover from meth addiction and heal physically and mentally. The process for detox and withdrawal from meth can be intense and distressing, and users can significantly benefit and increase their chances of success by participating in a medically-assisted detox program. Doctors and therapists can give the patient safe medications to lessen the severity of withdrawals.

Attending an inpatient or intensive outpatient rehab facility will provide recovering addicts access to a team of caring and experienced therapist who can help them achieve and maintain sobriety from meth. Having access to a group of doctors who specialize in drug addiction can also help addicts heal from the physical effects of methamphetamine abuse.

If you or a loved one are struggling with methamphetamine addiction, please reach out to Mission Harbor Behavioral Health today. Our representatives are standing by to answer your questions about detox, rehab, and addiction therapy.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

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