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Methamphetamine Abuse


Methamphetamines are a type of illegal drug. It is also called meth, crystal meth, or speed. Meth is usually smoked. It can also be sniffed, injected, swallowed, or put into the rectum.


Long-term effects of meth abuse:

  • Memory loss and confusion: You may have a hard time remembering things. Your ability to learn information will decrease. You may feel confused. You may also do things more slowly than before.

  • Thought and behavior problems: Your actions may be violent or impulsive (done without thinking first). You may believe that you need to use meth to get through each day.

  • Heart and sexual problems: Meth can cause your heart muscle to weaken or work poorly. Meth can decrease a man's ability to have sex.

  • Aging and weight loss: Meth causes you to look older than you really are. You may not have a desire to keep yourself clean. You may eat poorly and become malnourished.

  • Skin sores and infection: You may begin a habit of picking at your skin. You may think you see or feel bugs on or under your skin and try to pick them off. Skin picking causes sores to grow, and the sores can get infected. Meth injection causes needle marks on your skin. Needle marks can also get infected.

  • Tooth decay: Meth use causes a dry mouth. You may crave fizzy and sugary drinks. You may be less likely to brush your teeth, and your teeth may rot. Meth makes you chew, clench, or grind your teeth more than normal. This causes your teeth to wear down. Your teeth may turn dark or black. They may break, crumble, or fall apart. This is called meth mouth. Your teeth may need to be pulled out.

Dangers of cooking meth:

Meth is cooked from chemicals and materials that can cause a fire or explosion. These substances can cause severe burns.

How meth affects unborn or newborn babies and children:

  • If you are pregnant and use meth, your baby may not grow as he should. Your baby may be born too early or die before birth. Your baby may have problems with his heart, brain, or body development. Do not breastfeed your baby if you use meth. You will give meth to your baby through your breast milk.

  • Your child may not grow as he should. He also may have trouble learning or managing anger.

Meth withdrawal:

Withdrawal occurs when you decrease or stop using a drug you are addicted to. Meth users may have trouble coping with the symptoms of withdrawal and may start using meth again. Meth withdrawal can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • You may feel tired, sleep longer than usual, or not be able sleep at all. You may have bad dreams.

  • You may not be able to focus on a task. You may move more slowly and take longer to complete tasks.

  • You may have strong cravings for meth.

  • You may feel nervous, angry, hungry, or unwell. You may think that people are trying to hurt you.

  • You may feel sad. You may want to kill yourself.

Meth abuse treatments:

Most people need therapy and support to stop using meth. Several different kinds of therapy and support are available. Ask your primary healthcare provider where you can find a therapy or support group.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You know or think you may be pregnant.

  • You have withdrawal symptoms and want to start using meth again.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have chest pain and your heart rate or breathing are faster than usual.

  • You are so nervous that you cannot function.

  • You feel sick or vomit, or have headaches or trouble breathing while being around or cooking meth. You may also feel dizzy.

  • Children or others who have been near meth look or act ill, or will not wake up.

  • You have a seizure.

  • You want to hurt yourself or someone else.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.