Meth is a manmade, white, bitter-tasting powder. Sometimes it’s made into a white pill or a shiny, white or clear rock called a crystal. Most of the meth used in the United States comes from “superlabs” – big, illegal laboratories that make the drug in large quantities. But it is also made in small labs using cheap, over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, which is common in cold medicines. Other chemicals, such as muriatic acid and battery acid, are also involved in making methamphetamine.
Some of the effects of meth on the user can cause euphoria, however long-term use can cause many health problems. The release of dopamine in the brain causes several physical effects, similar to those of other stimulants like cocaine. These effects include:
- Feeling very awake and active
- Fast heart rate and irregular heartbeat
- Higher blood pressure
- Higher body temperature
- Increased risk for HIV/AIDS or hepatitis (a liver disease) from unsafe sex and shared needles
Effects of Long-Term Meth Use
Many users turn to meth for the short-term relief of depression or sadness. What they often don’t realize, however, is that prolonged meth use can make their lives drastically worse than it was before.
The long-term effects of chronic methamphetamine use include:
- Compromised immune system: Meth use can severely impact the body’s ability to fight off illness, which is why addicts always seem to be battling one sickness or another.
- Psychosis: Long-term, heavy use of methamphetamine can trigger psychotic episodes in users that closely resemble schizophrenia. Paranoia, hallucination, delusion and aggression are also common in long-term methamphetamine users.
- Cognitive damage: Meth use destroys the brain’s ability to produce dopamine naturally, leading to numerous cognition problems. The brain may regenerate over time, but for many, these changes can become permanent.
Continued methamphetamine use may cause additional effects that last for a long time, even after a person quits using the drug. These effects include:
- Anxiety and confusion
- Sleeping Problems
- Mood Swings
- Violent behavior
- Open skin sores caused by scratching
- Frequent nausea and vomiting
- Severe weight loss
- Liver damage
- Severe dental problems, aka “meth mouth”
- Hair Loss
- Decreased blood flow to the extremities
- Compulsive and repetitive behaviors