If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, you’re probably concerned. Methamphetamine or meth is common. In fact, an estimated 2.5 million Americans use the drug, with 2.3 million of those being 26 or older. But, while meth is commonly used, it is very far from safe. In fact, the drug contributes to a host of disorders and physical ailments, including paranoia, heart problems, overdose, and addiction. In fact, some 1.6 million of the 2.5 million people using meth are addicted to the drug.
Meth is often considered one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse. That’s because it has significant mental side-effects, which can increase risks of injury and personal harm in many other ways. In addition, it causes significant stress to your heart, which can be fatal at any point, even after you quit abusing the drug.
So, the short answer is, “yes, meth can kill you”. However, if you want to learn more about how, keep reading.
Meth can indirectly kill you in many ways by increasing vulnerability to other direct causes of death. However, meth can also directly kill you in several ways.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant, which increases blood pressure and increases activity rate. While you feel good and like you have more energy while using it, it puts intense strain on your heart and cardiovascular system.
While most people are relatively safe the first few times they use, risk of heart attack increases with every use – because heart and cardiovascular strain build up. That’s especially true for people who habitually use other stimulants like caffeine and cocaine as well.
Meth overdose used to be relatively rare. However, today’s methamphetamines are often mixed with other drugs, which greatly increases the chance of overdose. For example, the New York State Department of Health released data showing that 1 person per 333,000 inhabitants died because of a methamphetamine overdose with no other drugs involved. When fentanyl or another opioid were also involved, that overdose rate went up to almost 3 in 200,000. That works out to 82.5% of all meth overdoses include fentanyl or a similar opioid.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to ensure that purchased meth does not include fentanyl or another drug without having it tested. And, while there are testing areas that will do so for free, many people do not have safe access to them.
Meth is a stimulant which causes increased heart and cardiovascular activity and increased heat. As a result, stroke is a common cause of sudden death while using methamphetamine. The risk of stroke while using methamphetamine also increases with age, with the highest risks to people above 45.
Meth also causes significant increases in body temperature, which can result in heatstroke. Heatstroke may align with the time of year, with circumstances under which meth was taken (e.g., in a warm venue or in a crowd), or with how the individual is processing heat, which makes the risk difficult to avoid or mitigate.
Meth can also cause significant other problems, including the famous “meth mouth” where your teeth and gums are likely to damage over usage. However, there are significant and dangerous side-effects of using meth, many of which can contribute to an early or unexpected death.
More than half of all people using methamphetamine are addicted to the drug. This extremely high rate of addiction tracks to the short effects of the drug and the necessity to keep using when using a pipe or to the fact that the drug causes a significant crash afterwards, meaning that someone who has to or wants to keep functioning has to keep using.
Eventually that results in a behavioral disorder, where you habitually seek out the drug, despite knowing it is harming your life. Addiction is a mental health disorder which can be treated with behavioral therapy, counseling, and support, but it can put you in danger – especially of contracting diseases and needle sharing.
Heavy meth usage can cause significant damage to the brain with notable impacts to memory, reasoning, and judgement. Meth causes significant spikes in dopamine and serotonin production in the brain, eventually resulting in the brain adapting to those increases. The result is impaired thinking and depression or lethargy and sometimes an inability to feel when not high. This can lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior even when clean, can lead to using more to account for emotional blunting, and can lead to poor decision-making. Fortunately, most of these side-effects heal after a year of being clean.
Meth puts significant and ongoing stress on the heart and cardiovascular system. This increases risks of stroke and heart attack as well as other heart and cardiovascular diseases. For example, over prolonged use, your risk of heart disease greatly increases. Veins may enlarge or even rupture. In addition, these side-effects may never heal, even if you quit using meth. That creates a lifelong increased risk of death and one which you’ll have to manage for the rest of your life.
Meth can result in significant paranoia and psychosis, some of which can endanger you. Here, psychosis normally starts out fairly low with increases in paranoia and irritability. However, people with heavy addictions may twitch, experience visual hallucinations, and scratch or scrape at their skin to remove something that feels like crawling or insects on their skin.
If you or a loved one is using methamphetamine, it is always a risk. There is no safe way to use methamphetamine, even if it’s pure and not contaminated by opioids like fentanyl. If you’re using, you’re putting yourself at risk. Getting help and asking for medical support to quit will ensure you have the support to withdraw safely. From there, a rehab center can help you to treat the underlying causes behind addiction, the addiction, mental health problems brought to the forefront by drug use, and help you to build the skills you need to get your life back.
Asana Recovery is located in Orange County, California. and offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services in our modern and comfortable addiction treatment facilities. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.