Dangers of Crystal Meth
Crystal methamphetamine (meth) is a concentrated, crystallized form of illicitly manufactured methamphetamine.
It is an extremely dangerous drug that entices users with its promise of an intense high and its relatively modest price. It is known by many street names, including:
Annoying using crystal meth should be aware of the serious dangers that come along with it. Crystal meth users may encounter a number of threats to health and wellbeing, including:
- Cardiovascular disease and other health issues.
- Mental health problems.
- Personal and professional ruin.
How is Crystal Meth Manufactured
Currently, most methamphetamine available in the United States is produced by criminal organizations in Mexico and distributed illegally in the U.S. Owing to advances in technology, this meth is very pure, powerful, and inexpensive. It is easily made in small hidden laboratories with inexpensive ingredients purchased over the counter—especially pseudoephedrine, a component of cold medications. Methamphetamine is smuggled into the U.S. in powder or liquid form. “Conversion labs” in the U.S. change it into crystal meth. Sometimes it is laced with fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid narcotic. Some methamphetamine is produced domestically—mostly in small labs that make two ounces or less.
Many of the chemicals used in meth production, such as acetone, anhydrous ammonia, and ether, are hazardous. Toxicity may remain in the environment after a lab is own, causing various harmful effects to health. 8
Diverting stimulant medications
Crystal Meth Can Kill
Even one does of crystal meth can be deadly. The harmful effects of meth use upon health include:
- Increased body temperature.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Irregular heart beat.
- Heart attack.
- Hemorrhage or vasospasm in the brain.
- Nervous system instability secondary to chronic catecholamine depletion.
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and other respiratory problems.
Even healthy individuals are vulnerable to sudden death from methamphetamine use. Heart attacks or strokes may occur because of massive spasms in the arterial walls caused by crystal meth use. Death may result from hyperthermia if body temperatures spikes uncontrollably.1
if you’re healthy, you are still vulnerable to sudden death from methamphetamine use. Heart attacks or strokes may occur because of the massive spasms in the arterial walls caused by crystal meth use. You can also die from sudden extreme hyperthermia if your body temperature spikes uncontrollably.1
Effects on the Body and Mind
Crystal meth can damage every system in the body. Common consequences from using crystal meth include:
- Degenerative Effects. Crystal meth use slowly destroys the body’s structures, including blood vessels and other tissue. It also impedes the body’s ability to heal.
- Skin: Crystal meth may cause an extreme itching sensation. This induces some users to think bugs are crawling under the skin, and they try to “pick them out,” causing chronic abscesses and lesions on the skin. Even after recovery from meth addiction, extensive pock marks and scarring may remain.
- Teeth: Crystal meth is corrosive to the mucosal linings of the mouth and the teeth. Crystal meth users are likely to have significant tooth decay and loss. Dental problems may appear very shortly after meth use begins. Also, chronic meth users typically follow poor diets and ignore dental hygiene, both of which are factors that contribute to poor dental health.
- Weight loss: Crystal meth speeds up metabolism and reduces hunger which leads to rapid weight loss.
- Insomnia. Methamphetamine promotes wakefulness. Long-term use of crystal meth destroys healthy sleep .
- Mental health issues. Chronic use of crystal meth can cause confusion, moodiness, anxiety, and symptoms of psychosis such as delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.
- Increased risk of heart disease. Heart problems may develop no matter how long the drug is abused. Sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack are risks even for first-time users.
- Increased risk of early mortality. One study found that the 5-year rate of mortality from all causes was 26 times higher than expected among women and 6 times higher than expected among men who abused methamphetamine.
- Decreased sex drive. Although crystal meth use increases libido initially, continued use can cause a drop in sexual desire and physical difficulties like erectile dysfunction.
- Increased risk of sexually transmitted and bloodborne diseases. Methamphetamine users are at greater risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Because methamphetamine lowers inhibitions, users are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. It only takes one sexual encounter with an infected person to acquire a STD. There is evidence that crystal meth may worsen the disease progression of HIV/AIDS, especially if you continue to use the drug after acquiring the disease.2-5
It Can Ruin Personal and Professional Reputation
Chronic meth use can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life, as pursuing the next high becomes the all-consuming goal of the user’s life. Meth use causes changes in the brain that lower impulse control and damage cognitive ability. All of this can have a devastating effect on family life and career—and these negative effects can accumulate very quickly.
In 2005, a survey by the National Association of Counties reportedly demonstrated that:6
- 62% of law enforcement agencies cited higher domestic violence rates due to meth use.
- 70% of law enforcement agencies cited increased theft because of meth use.
Crystal Meth’s Effects on the Unborn Baby
If a pregnant woman uses crystal meth, she is giving the drug to her baby, too. “Meth babies” born to using mothers often need withdrawal treatment. The drug is easily transmitted to the child through the placenta, so that the baby is born addicted. Moreover, the baby may suffer the following consequences:
- Premature birth.
- Low birth weight.
- Behavioral problems throughout childhood.
Also, if the mother is breastfeeding while using crystal meth, she is also passing the drug on to her child.7
Some Effects May Be Permanent—Even After You Stop Using
Crystal meth can cause permanent brain damage. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), areas of the brain responsible for emotion, memory, verbal learning, and motor skills tend to become significantly altered with long-term meth use.3
Why Is Crystal Meth So Addictive?
Unlike some other drugs, crystal meth often can’t be tried just once. Illegal drug use is never a good idea, but crystal meth is particularly dangerous because it can hook users almost immediately. Why is this?
Crystal Meth High
One hit of crystal meth can cause a flood of dopamine—a “feel-good” neurotransmitter—to be released in the brain. This results in an intense, concentrated, and very pleasurable “high.”
Crystal meth’s intense high is only temporary, but its effects on your brain and mood are almost instant. The flood of dopamine it induces recedes very quickly, resulting in a “crash” that may cause extreme anxiety, fatigue, depression, and even paranoia.
This so-called “binge and crash” effect drives users to seek the high repeatedly. Over time, tolerance to the drug develops, so that more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effect.
How Crystal Meth Works
Crystal meth works by causing extra release of chemicals called “catecholamines” in the brain. Catecholamines are “fight or flight” chemicals in the body that are released during stressful times. Catecholamines may function either as neurotransmitters or as hormones, with the main ones including:
Dopamine levels skyrocket after meth use. It plays a dominant role in influencing the addiction that develops when crystal meth is abused.
Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the feelings of pleasure and enjoyment which result from doing something that is fun or pleasurable. Crystal meth ramps up dopamine’s normal production volume and floods the body’s receptors. The result is an exhilarating, all-encompassing high, which is more intense and long lasting than a natural dopamine high.
Eating an ice cream cone or exercising to the point where a natural high is achieved are both examples of everyday activities that could cause the body to release dopamine. Moreover, dopamine provides positive reinforcement so that you’ll want to repeat the pleasurable activity again and again.
But for many meth users, the naturally occurring dopamine high just isn’t enough anymore. Even worse, the body gradually produces less dopamine on its own as crystal meth use continues, since the body now relies on crystal meth for its dopamine supply.
As a result, sudden withdrawal from crystal meth often brings on severe depression. Users will seek the drug again to avoid it, making recovery extremely difficult and relapse common. By seeking appropriate treatment, however, users can be properly supported through recovery with the resources that can help them succeed.
What Can You Do?
If you are addicted to crystal meth, help is available.
Successful treatment of crystal meth addiction typically includes counseling, medication, family education, structured lifestyle support, and behavioral therapy. Treatment and rehabilitation has helped thousands of individuals recover from meth addiction.
Types of Crystal Meth Treatment Programs
There are several different treatment program options available to choose from.
- Standard crystal meth rehabilitation programs offer both inpatient/residential and outpatient addiction treatment. These programs are the best options for those on limited budgets. Unlike outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab is full time and is often recommended in cases of long-standing or severe addictions. Those who also struggle with coexisting medical or mental health conditions are well advised to seek inpatient rehab.
- Luxury rehab programs are residential facilities that offer the similar addiction treatment approaches as the standard inpatient programs. However, they are called “luxury” programs for their extra range of plush, resort-like amenities that are designed to help make the recovery process as comfortable as possible.
- Executive rehab programs are similar to luxury programs except that they also provide the resources and program structure that allow busy professionals to maintain an active involvement in the workplace throughout the recovery process.
Ongoing Recovery Support Groups
Throughout the recovery process, and even after the program’s completion, many individuals find they can maintain sobriety better when they join a recovery support group. Some of these support groups include “12-step” programs that promote cognitive behavioral techniques for relapse prevention and recovery maintenance while participants work the steps. These steps emphasize recovering by relying on a higher power and mending relationships, Examples of 12-step support groups are :
Find a Rehab Program Near You
If you have any questions you’d like to discuss, or if you’d like help finding a crystal meth rehabilitation program that can help you achieve sobriety, contact us today at 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. We can match you up to a program that is a good fit for you and help you achieve the healthy, happy life you’re after.
- Richards, J.R. (2018). Methamphetamine toxicity clinical presentation.
- Lorvick, J., Bourgois, P., Wenger, L., Arreola, S., Lutnick, A., Wechsberg, W. (2012). Sexual pleasure and sexual risk among women who use methamphetamine: a mixed methods study. Int J Drug Policy, 23(5), 385-92.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: What is methamphetamine?
- Kaye, S., McKetin, R., Duflou, J., Darke, S. (2007). Methamphetamine and cardiovascular pathology: a review of the evidence. Addiction, 102(8), 1204-11.
- Kuo, C. J., Liao, Y. T., Chen, W. J., Tsai, S. Y., Lin, S. K., Chen, C. C. (2011). Causes of death of patients with methamphetamine dependence: a record-linkage study.Drug Alcohol Rev, 30(6), 621-8.
- NBC News.com. (2005). Meth is top drug problem for most countries.
- LaGasse, L. L., Derauf, C., Smith, L. M., Newman, E., Shah, R., Neal, C., Arria, A., et al. (2012) Prenatal methamphetamine exposure and childhood behavior problems at 3 and 5 years of age. Pediatrics, 129(4), 681-8.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). How is methamphetamine manufactured?