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Effects of Meth: Crystal Methamphetamine Effects on Addict

Crystal methamphetamine effects can include long term physical side effects of meth like meth mouth. Other effects of meth can be deadly. Learn more.

Crystal methamphetamine effects can be devastating both on the addict and those around them. Methamphetamine is thought to be one of the most addictive drugs and quickly shows detrimental short term effects of meth. Methamphetamine highs can last up to 20 hours, but many users keep taking meth over and over in what's known as a binge. The long term effects of meth can include heart, liver and brain damage and are sometimes lethal.

Crystal methamphetamine effects are variable depending on a number of factors, including the following:

  • Age and body weight
  • Amount of meth consumed
  • How long the person has been using meth
  • Method of ingestion
  • The environment
  • Any pre-existing psychiatric disorders
  • Any additional drugs, supplements or alcohol consumed

Effects of Meth: Short Term Effects of Meth on the Body

The effects of meth are seen both on the body and in the mind of the addict. Both types of crystal methamphetamine effects can be equally serious. Short term effects of meth on the body are easier to recover from, but in rare cases can still result in death.

Typical short term effects of meth on the body include:

  • Compulsive behavior, a need to repeat the same action
  • Aggression, violent behavior
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased libido
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sleepiness, insomnia
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • Palpitations irregular heartbeat
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
  • Tremors, convulsions
  • Fatigue

Once the user begins meth withdrawal, the following short term meth effects can be seen:

  • Increased appetite
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • Excessive sleeping

Effects of Meth: Short Term Effects of Meth on the Brain

While the effects of meth on the body can be seen, the effects of meth on the brain are also taking place. In fact, it's the effects of meth on the brain that can cause the greatest problem as they can be a major driving factor in keeping a user addicted to meth.

One of the major effects of meth on the brain centers around a brain chemical, a neurotransmitter, known as dopamine. Dopamine is one of the major neurotransmitters that signal pleasure in the brain. When methamphetamines are used, the brain releases abnormally large amounts of dopamine. The effects of meth on the brain also include chemical changes that make dopamine's pleasurable effects last longer than they normally would.

Effects of meth on the brain include many other chemical changes in the brain. Short term effects of meth on the brain include:1

  • Euphoria, known as a high
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Agitation, irritability, sudden mood changes
  • Anxiety, panic, paranoia. confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression, suicidal ideation
  • Vivid or lucid dreams

Effects of Meth: Long Term Effects of Meth on the Brain and Body

While the short term effects of meth like an elevated heart rate and blood pressure can cause serious side effects of meth like a heart attack, the long term effects of meth increase the likelihood of these serious effects of meth. Most crystal methamphetamine effects will decrease over time, but in some cases, severe effects of meth can be permanent.

One of the commonly seen long term side effects of meth is known as "meth mouth." Meth mouth is a massive increase in tooth decay leading in many cases to teeth falling out. Meth mouth is thought to occur for many reasons. Some of the reasons for meth mouth include:2

  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of dental hygiene
  • Preference of meth addicts for sugar such as sugary carbonated drinks
  • Teeth grinding and clenching, often seen as a part of withdrawal

Other long term effects of meth occur in both the body and the brain. Some of the long term effects of meth are thought to be caused due to the prolonged lack of dopamine in the brain. Long terms effects of meth include:3

  • Impaired cognitive abilities, memory
  • Seizures, tremors
  • Muscle stiffness or weakness
  • Psychosis, violent behavior, self-harm
  • Hallucinations, delusions of "bugs under the skin"
  • A sexually transmitted disease or infection
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Coma
  • Heart problems including heart attack, stroke
  • Kidney problems including kidney failure
  • A neurodegenerative disorder similar to Parkinson's
  • Using meth during pregnancy can kill both mother and child
  • Death

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next: Meth Addicts: Where Can the Crystal Meth Addict Get Help?
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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, January 13). Effects of Meth: Crystal Methamphetamine Effects on Addict, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/meth-addiction/effects-of-meth-crystal-methamphetamine-effects-on-addict

Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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