Although the national conversation around drugs has recently focused on opioids, more and more Americans are also falling victim to methamphetamine abuse and addiction. Some states have experienced as much as a 250% increase in usage over the last 7 years.
NBC News writes that “because meth kills slowly, and at lower rates [compared to opioids], it isn’t getting the attention that many researchers, law enforcement officials and health workers say it deserves”. Just because meth tends to kill slowly, however, makes it no less dangerous than opioids.
The physical, psychological, and behavioral risks presented by meth cannot be overstated. Meth does significant and lasting damage to almost every part of a person, with even short-term use being linked to numerous health risks.
The Physical Decay Caused by Meth Addiction
One of the most visible health risks of meth addiction is “meth mouth,” a term for dental problems found in meth users, such as “rampant tooth decay, tooth loss, loss of taste, and an inability to chew”. The loss of teeth associated with such extreme dental decay is further associated with a “greater risk for different systemic diseases and an increase in mortality rate”.
Malnutrition & Skin Infections
Meth strongly suppresses appetite, which can lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition over time. Meth’s tendency to drive users to pick their skin results in sores on the face and body, placing the individual at risk for “higher rates of skin infections, abscess, and cellulitis”. 5
Organ and Immune System Damage
Beyond the visible health risks of meth abuse, internal damage is also common. Drugabuse.gov notes that overdosing on meth may lead to “stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, such as kidney failure caused by overheating”. Overdose is not necessary for meth to cause serious organ damage. The overheating associated with meth use has been found to “contribute significantly to persistent liver damage” caused by the drug.
Meth has also been found to cause immune dysfunction, putting the user at greater risk of disease or infection.
The Neurological and Behavioral Consequences of Meth
Meth damages the brain just as much as the organs. It creates feelings of depression, anxiety, paranoia, obsessive behavior, uncontrollable movements, and memory issues. Drugabuse.gov notes that meth’s effect on dopamine release is thought to be a part of its damage to the brain’s nerve terminals.
Meth Leads to Dangerous Behaviors
Meth’s behavioral impacts also lead to numerous health risks. Some meth users abuse meth in what is known as a “run”, where they take the drug for extended periods without attending to the need for food or rest. Meth impairs judgment, encouraging dangerous behaviors such as injecting unsafe needles or engaging in unsafe sex. Finally, meth’s capacity to induce a psychotic state in users can lead to violent or erratic behaviors directed towards themselves or others.
Meth addiction does profound damage to a person’s physical, psychological, and emotional health. Meth’s tendency to do this damage over time means that anyone struggling with an addiction to this vicious drug must seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Granite Recovery Centers has 11 drug rehabilitation centers throughout New Hampshire offering a number of addiction treatment programs that combine 12-step work with proven clinical care, along with medical meth detox. We will help you or your loved one overcome an addiction to meth and recover the life you deserve.