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How is meth abused?

Methamphetamine — a potent and highly addictive stimulant — abuse remains an extremely serious problem in the United States. But the consequences of methamphetamine abuse are terrible for the individual: psychological, medical, and social side effects can ruin a meth addict’s life. The good news is that drug abuse can be prevented. Plus, addiction to meth can be treated.

So, how can meth be abused and what are the side effects of its abuse? We provide the answers in the text below. Then, we invite your questions about signs of meth problems in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Can meth be abused?

Yes, meth can be abused.

In fact, any time that you use methamphetamine for euphoric effect, you are abusing it. What are the features of this particular type of drug abuse? Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly, users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug. In some cases, abusers indulge in a form of binging known as a “run,” foregoing food and sleep while continuing to take the drug for up to several days.

How meth is abused

Methamphetamine use for medical purposes is restricted to methamphetamine salt combinations used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders.  When abused, meth is taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. Smoking or injecting the drug delivers it very quickly to the brain, where it produces an immediate, intense euphoria. This immediate, intense “rush” amplifies the drug’s addiction potential and adverse health consequences. The rush, or “flash,” may last only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. However, because the pleasure also fades quickly, users often take repeated doses, in a “binge and crash” pattern.

Snorting or oral ingestion of meth produces euphoria – an intense sense of well-being, or a high –  but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and oral ingestion produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.

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Meth abuse side effects

Even in small doses, meth can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose and, if not treated immediately, can result in death.

Signs of meth abuse

In addition to becoming addicted to methamphetamine, chronic abusers may exhibit signs that can include:

  • significant anxiety
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • mood disturbances
  • violent behavior

They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual or auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic signs of meth abuse can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.

Questions about abusing meth

Do you still have questions about how people abuse meth or its negative consequences? We invite you to post your questions here. And if we don’t know the answer to your question(s), we’ll refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: NIDA: DrugFacts – Methamphetamine
NIDA: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction

Photo credit: NIH Science Education

Leave a Reply

6 Responses to “How is meth abused?
Susan
8:43 pm September 11th, 2014

I must be unique in my use of meth for a year. I have never displayed any of those signs of use in your article. I only felt good and later speed. I smoke up to half gram in 2 days. Maybe I didn’t do enough for those effects??

2:41 pm September 12th, 2014

Hi Susan. Thanks for sharing more on your experience; long term effects of meth can trigger irreversible damage to body systems. Perhaps dosing frequency has not lead to these outcomes yet…but they are ahead of you if you don’t stop. I wish you well. Lee

Tony
11:33 am November 21st, 2014

Why does meth make you like super horny and just crazy when it comes to sex pleasure.

1:02 pm November 26th, 2014

Hello Tony. Meth affects the central part of the brain. This is the brain’s region that regulates the more primitive aspects of our mental process, such as pleasure, cravings, and instinctive actions without regard to reason, logic, or higher functions of thinking. This part of the brain gets highly stimulated from meth, while the frontal part (that controls higher level thinking) gets shut down.

Chris
6:53 am August 11th, 2015

“In fact, any time that you use methamphetamine for euphoric effect, you are abusing it.”

The same could be said about alcohol.

Angel
8:01 am May 1st, 2016

I just found out my roommate has been abusing Meth, he has been smoking it. I found out he has been smoking it in his room and I have children, is there a risk that we have been exposed due to his smoking? We don’t go in his room and he admitted he put towels all over the door but I don’t know anything about it. He has asked me to help him kick the habit and to not kick him out (I just learned it has been a problem off and on since he was a teenager) I agreed on the condition he submits to a drug test every 3 days for two months and then randomly over the course of him living here. However if my children have been exposed due to his smoking in the house I don’t know if I can follow through on that.

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