Allergic reaction to crystal meth



Methamphetamine is a prescription medication approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity.

Meth, or crystal meth, is often abused as an illegal street drug, too.

Methamphetamine works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical substance that allows signals to move from one nerve cell to another).

The patent for the brand name, Desoxyn, has expired.

However, in April 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a generic version of the drug.

Now sold generically as methamphetamine hydrochloride tablets, the drug is manufactured by Mylan Inc.

Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant, and is abused by some people as a recreational drug.

Crystal meth can be smoked in a small glass pipe, eaten, snorted, or mixed with liquid and injected.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates the worldwide production of amphetamine-type stimulants, including meth, is almost 500 metric tons a year.

The organization puts the number of abusers at 24.7 million.

If you have been prescribed methamphetamine for weight loss, you should be aware that it could be habit forming and lead to meth addiction, especially with long-term use.

Don’t take the medication longer than recommended and don’t give it to anyone else, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Be sure to store it in a place where others can’t get it.

Only use methamphetamine if you have been unable to drop weight by relying on diets or on other medications.

Some medical guidelines do not support the use of methamphetamine as a treatment for either ADHD or obesity because of the lack of clinical data supporting its use, and the drug’s potential for abuse.

If you have been prescribed this medication, discuss with your doctor the limited usefulness versus the possible risks of meth abuse, and ask if you are a candidate for other treatment options.

Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Withdrawal from methamphetamine use can cause severe, painful mental and physical effects, including death.

Meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Cravings for methamphetamines or other stimulants
  • Irregular sleep
  • Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
  • Fever, chills, sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Other Methamphetamine Warnings

Tell your doctor if you have coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), current heart problems, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), glaucoma, anxiety, or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

If methamphetamine is being used to treat your child’s ADHD, you should be aware that it could slow your child’s growth.

Let your doctor know if your child isn’t growing or gaining weight properly.

Talk to your doctor about potential allergies to methamphetamine or other stimulants, or if you have:

  • Severe anxiety, tension, or agitation
  • A personal or family history of mental illness, psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, or suicide attempt
  • Peripheral vascular disease such as Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • A history of seizures (convulsions) or an abnormal brain wave test called an EEG (electro-encephalograph)
  • Tics (muscle twitches) or Tourette’s syndrome

Patients should be aware that some stimulants have caused sudden death in people with serious heart problems or congenital heart defects.

Methamphetamine and Pregnancy

Taking methamphetamine while pregnant could lead to premature birth, low birth weight, or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn.

Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or might become pregnant before using this medication.

Don’t breastfeed while taking methamphetamine because it can pass into breast milk and may harm a breastfeeding baby.

Methamphetamine can affect growth in children.

Do not give this medicine to a child who is younger than 6 years old or use it to treat obesity in anyone under the age of 12 without speaking to a doctor first.

Speed (methamphetamine)

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD Last updated on Apr 24, 2018.

  • Disease Reference
  • Medication List
  • Q & A

Common or street names: Crystal meth, Crank, Meth, Ice, Glass, Fire, Crypto, Chalk

What is methamphetamine (speed)?

Speed (methamphetamine, C10H15N) is a potent and addictive central nervous system stimulant, chemically related to amphetamine, but with greater central nervous system side effects. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which means it has a high potential for abuse and is available legally only by prescription. Methamphetamine, when abused, is commonly referred to as “speed”, “meth”, or “chalk” and has been in use since the early 1960s. When abused, methamphetamine is usually smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally.

Medically, methamphetamine has been used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity, but these uses are limited in the U.S. due to the high potential for abuse and diversion. Prescription doses are typically much lower than those used illegally. In the U.S., methamphetamine is available by prescription as the brand name product Desoxyn or generically.

Methamphetamine is cheap and easy to make from common ingredients. Most of the illegal methamphetamine in the U.S. comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although small batches may be made in residencies or other clandestine buildings called “meth labs”, often using the cold decongestant pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine can only be purchased from behind the pharmacy counter now in the U.S., and in limited quantities. This law is enforced to help curb abuse and keep a record of the purchaser.

How is speed abused?

Methamphetamine (speed) may be abused by inhaling or smoking, swallowing, snorting through the nose, or by injection. Another common form of the drug is crystal methamphetamine, or “crystal meth”, which is clear, chunky crystals resembling ice. Crystal meth is smoked in a manner similar to crack cocaine and became popular in the 1980s. Street names for this form of methamphetamine include “ice”, “crystal”, “crank”, and “glass”.

What are the effects of speed?

Immediately after smoking or intravenous (IV) injection, the user experiences an intense sensation, often called a “rush”, which lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Oral or intranasal use produces euphoria or high, but not a rush. Snorting methamphetamine will lead to effects within 3 to 5 minutes, whereas oral ingestion takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Common, immediate effects of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • increased activity and body temperature
  • wakefulness
  • talkativeness
  • faster breathing
  • increased concentration
  • decreased appetite
  • elevated blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate
  • increased libido (sex drive)
  • a sense of well-being.

Some users become addicted quickly, and abuse it with increasing frequency and doses. As the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear, abusers may use more and more drug to get the same effect. Using methamphetamine many times over a period of several days, usually without food or sleep, is often called a “run”.

Is speed addicting?

Yes, methamphetamine (speed) is extremely addicting. Withdrawal from methamphetamine produces:

  • severe depression
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • psychosis
  • intense cravings for the drug.

The health hazards from chronic use of methamphetamine appear to be at least partially reversible. Recovery of dopamine transporter activity has been shown on brain neuro-imaging studies after roughly 2 years. Motor skills and verbal memory tests showed some recovery, but not all changes have been shown to reverse over time.

How do you treat a speed addiction?

Behavioral therapy remains the most effective treatment for methamphetamine abuse and addiction, at this time. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the combination of behavioral therapy and family education, counseling and 12-step support, drug testing and positive reinforcement for non-drug related activities has been shown to be effective.

There are no specific medications approved for use in methamphetamine addiction. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that clinical studies are ongoing looking at medications or vaccine use for treatment of methamphetamine addiction. In addition, bupropion (Wellbutrin), approved for use in depression, has been shown to reduce low-to-moderate methamphetamine cravings, in combination with behavioral group therapy. Bupropion’s proposed mechanism in methamphetamine dependence by inhibiting the re-uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine.

What are the side effects with speed?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant. Methamphetamine use:

  • increases heart rate
  • increases blood pressure
  • elevates body temperature
  • quickens the breathing rate
  • dilates the pupils.

Other side effects include temporary hyperactivity, insomnia, anorexia and tremors. High doses or chronic use have been associated with increased nervousness, irritability, paranoia, confusion, anxiety and aggressiveness, all typical side effects expected from a high-dose stimulant.

Methamphetamine can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, leading to a stroke. Death can result from hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), convulsions and cardiovascular collapse.

Chronic, high-dose methamphetamine abusers are susceptible to violent and erratic behavior, hallucinations, and a psychosis similar to schizophrenia. Psychotic episodes may recur for months or years after methamphetamine abuse has stopped. The neurotoxic effect of methamphetamine causes damage to brain cells that contain dopamine. Over time, reduced levels of dopamine can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.

Other adverse health effects that may occur due to speed abuse include memory loss, severe dental problems (often called “meth mouth”, where the users’ teeth rot from the inside out), weight loss, and malnutrition.

The injecting drug user is at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis B or C if needles or other injection equipment are shared.

Can you overdose on speed?

Yes, an overdose is possible with methamphetamine abuse. An overdose can occur due to high doses or a serious reaction that leads to death.

Death due to a methamphetamine overdose can be caused by:

  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • organ problems, such as with the kidney

How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Similar to cocaine, methamphetamine blocks the re-uptake of dopamine. Methamphetamine releases high levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter used for body movement, motivation, pleasure, and reward. A “rush” of dopamine release in the brain due to methamphetamine abuse leads to the intense high and continued reuse of “speed” that can lead to addiction.

Methamphetamine also increases levels of serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine, other brain chemicals. Methamphetamine can easily cross into the brain. Methamphetamine is able to penetrate the central nervous system more readily than amphetamine, making it a more potent and longer-lasting stimulant. However, amphetamine is also an active metabolite of methamphetamine, peaking in blood levels in roughly 12 hours.

Oral methamphetamine has a half-life of roughly 4 to 5 hours. Metabolism occurs in the liver, and excretion occurs primarily in the urine and is pH dependent. Approximately 62% of an oral dose is eliminated in the urine within the first 24 hours, with about one-third as intact drug and the remainder as metabolites.

Is speed use in pregnancy dangerous?

Methamphetamine use in pregnancy is of concern. There is limited knowledge of the fetal effects of methamphetamine abuse. Limited human studies have shown increased rates of premature delivery, low birth weight, placental abruption, fetal growth retardation, heart and brain abnormalities, and withdrawal symptoms. Research is continuing to assess the effect of methamphetamine use on social interactions, cognition and medical health in children exposed to methamphetamine in utero. Animal studies have shown birth defects and embryo death when high doses.

Infants born to mothers who are addicted to methamphetamine may experience symptoms of withdrawal as demonstrated by agitation and significant weakness. Additionally, amphetamines are excreted in human milk, and mothers who taking amphetamines should be advised to refrain from breast feeding.


  • Drug Testing FAQs

See Also

  • Bath Salts
  • Cannabis: Uses, Effects and Safety
  • Cocaine
  • Devil’s Breath
  • Ecstasy
  • Fentanyl (Abuse)
  • GHB
  • Gray Death
  • Hashish
  • Heroin
  • Ketamine
  • Kratom
  • Krokodil
  • LSD
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA
  • Mescaline (Peyote)
  • Opium
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
  • Quaaludes
  • Rohypnol
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids (Synthetic Marijuana, Spice, K2)
  • TCP (Tenocyclidine)
  • U-47700 (Pink)


Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

More News Resources

  • Disease Reference
  • Medication List
  • Q & A

Impact of Methamphetamine Abuse: A Rare Case of Rapid Cerebral Aneurysm Growth with Review of Literature


Methamphetamine or “meth” is a sympathomimetic amine of the amphetamine-type substances (ATS) class with an extremely high potential for abuse. Illicitly abused neurostimulants like cocaine and meth predispose patients to the aneurysmal formation with reported rupture at a younger age and in much smaller sized aneurysms. However, very rapid growth of aneurysm within less than 2 weeks with methamphetamine abuse is very rarely observed or reported. In this report, we present a patient with repeated and recurrent meth abuse who demonstrated rapid growth of a pericallosal aneurysm over the period of less than two weeks. The pathophysiology of stroke related to meth and ATS abuse is multifactorial with hypertension, tachycardia, and vascular disease postulated as major mechanisms. The rapid growth of an aneurysm has a high risk of aneurysmal rupture and SAH, which is a neurosurgical emergency and therefore warrants careful consideration and close monitoring. This case confirms the dynamic temporal effects of methamphetamine use on intracranial vessels and this specific neurostimulants association to rapid aneurysmal formation. In light of vascular pathologies the possibility of drug-induced pseudoaneurysm should also be considered in young patients with history of meth abuse.

1. Introduction

Methamphetamine, commonly known as “meth”, is a sympathomimetic amine of the amphetamine-type substances (ATS) class with an extremely high potential for abuse . This abuse potential comes from side effects like euphoria, hallucination, central nervous system (CNS) stimulation, and anorexia. Excess use of meth has been implicated in the formation of renal and splanchnic artery aneurysms and may cause myocardial infarction or stroke . Neurostimulants like cocaine and meth predispose patients to the aneurysmal formation with reported rupture at an earlier age and in much smaller sized aneurysms

In this report, we present a patient with repeated and recurrent meth abuse who demonstrated rapid growth of a pericallosal aneurysm over the period of fewer than two weeks. Such rapid growth of aneurysm in the major intracranial vessels resulting from methamphetamine abuse is very rare. The pathophysiology of stroke form ATS Class substances is multifactorial but preexisting vascular disease, and meth-induced hypertension pays a major role . The rapid growth of an aneurysm has a high risk of aneurysmal rupture and SAH, which is a neurosurgical emergency . Some underlying risk factors have been identified which can be helpful in recognizing susceptible individuals, which can benefit in clinical decision-making .

2. Case

A 41-year-old Hispanic woman initially presented to the emergency room (ER) in 2012 with a severe excruciating headache for approximately 1 hour after the use of meth. Further history revealed patient had been an oral, snorting and intravenous user of meth. Her headache was also associated with nausea, vomiting, neck pain/stiffness, and photophobia. The patient had the following vitals: blood pressure 146/94 mmHg, heart rate 64 beats/min, respiratory rate 18 breath/min, and Temperature 36.5°C. The further patient assessment revealed a Hunt and Hess: grade I (+1) and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 15 with no focal deficits. Blood workup (hematological and blood chemistry) was within normal range. A head CT demonstrated left frontal intraparenchymal hemorrhage (IPH) measuring 1.2 × 2.6 cm with bilateral frontal and Sylvian fissure subarachnoid hemorrhage (Figure 1(a)) with hemorrhagic extension into the fourth ventricle; Fisher grade: IV. CT-A demonstrated a left distal anterior cerebral artery aneurysm measuring 3.7 × 3.4 mm pointing in a superior-medial direction. An EVD was placed for obstructive hydrocephalus. After coiling the ruptured aneurysm, postcoiling images were also obtained (Figure 1(c)). After procedure the patient was stable and without neurological deficit; her ICU stay was uneventful and eventually discharged home.

(c) Figure 1 Imaging study upon patient’s arrival at the hospital in 2012. (a) CT head without contrast showing diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage that originated from an aneurysm identified by (b) Cerebral angiogram. (c) Cerebral angiogram imaging after coiling of an aneurysm.

The patient was lost to follow-up and presented in the hospital emergency room after four years with complaints of acute onset headache similar to prior presentation with headache and vomiting identical to the symptoms she had in 2012. Follow-up history revealed she continued to struggle with meth abuse with last use around ten days before her presentation to the hospital. Her vitals on presentation were as follows: blood pressure 129/54 mmHg, heart rate 61 beats/min, respiratory rate 16 breath/min, and Temperature 37°C. The patient was assessed as Hunt and Hess grade II + 1 and a GCS of 15 with no focal deficits. There was a left medial frontal intracerebral hemorrhage adjacent to an aneurysm that was coiled previously on head CT (Figure 2(a)). A formal angiogram demonstrated rerupture with recannulation at the base of the previously coiled aneurysm. Additionally, three neoaneurysms that were found include a periophthalmic aneurysm of the right internal carotid artery, approximately 5 mm, a fusiform dilation aneurysm at the pericallosal and callosomarginal bifurcation, and a basilar tip aneurysm, approximately 1.5-2 mm and 4 mm, respectively (Figures 2(b) and 2(c)) and were assessed as Fisher grade IV. She subsequently underwent a bifrontal craniotomy for clipping of her complex anterior cerebral branch aneurysm. Her postoperative course was uneventful, and the patient was eventually discharged home, GCS 15, and neurologically intact.

(c) Figure 2 Imaging upon hospitalization in 2016. (a) CT head without contrast in 2016 showing intracerebral hemorrhage adjacent to the previously coiled aneurysm. (b and c) Cerebral angiogram of the anterior and posterior circulations showing the development of multiple new aneurysms.

Five days after discharge in 2016, the patient again presented to the hospital as a transfer from an outside hospital, intubated, with a head CT demonstrating a 3.7 × 5.2 × 5 cm left frontal intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) with extension into the bilateral lateral ventricles, third and fourth ventricles (Figure 3(a)). The patient was Hunt and Hess grade IV + 1, Fisher grade IV. Urine drug screen was positive for meth (records from another hospital). On arrival, her vitals were as follows: blood pressure 143/67 mmHg, heart rate 61 beats/min, respiratory rate 18 breath/min, and Temperature 37.4°C, and GCS was 11T with left-sided hemiparesis. Emergent left craniectomy was done for evacuation of the intraparenchymal hemorrhage and ventriculostomy tube placement. Postoperative formal angiogram, less than 3 weeks from her previous cerebral angiogram, showed that the previously identified fusiform dilations associated with the right pericallosal and callosomarginal bifurcation segment now had a small saccular component with a neck of 5 mm and a height of 7 mm (Figure 2(b)). The previous periophthalmic, basilar tip and left frontopolar aneurysms were identified and remained unchanged. She subsequently underwent angiography assisted coiling of the right pericallosal and callosomarginal bifurcation aneurysm (Figure 3(c)). Over the remainder of her hospital stay, she underwent revision of cranioplasty as well as angiogram for pipeline stent of the periophthalmic artery aneurysm. She was downgraded out of the ICU, ambulating with physical therapy with the assistance of a walker and subsequently discharged home.

(c) Figure 3 (a) 5 days after discharge in 2016: CT head shows large intracerebral hematoma. (b) A diagnostic cerebral angiogram less than 3 weeks from previous imaging demonstrating interval development of a saccular aneurysm at the callosomarginal and pericallosal bifurcation. (c) Cerebral angiogram postcoiling.

3. Discussion

Nontraumatic SAH is a neurosurgical emergency with a mortality rate as high as 45%, often secondary to aneurysm rupture . Clinically, only two-thirds of all survivors regain functional independence, and nearly half of survivors have permanent cognitive deficits . Among the risk factors for aneurysm rupture including location, morphology, family history, active smoking, and female sex, aneurysm growth is a consistent and significant finding . Brinjijki et al. in a recent meta-analysis reported annual rupture rate in growing aneurysms versus a stable aneurysm as 3.1% and 0.1%, respectively . Further, the greatest risk for aneurysm rupture is during rapid periods of growth and therefore such cases should be dealt with caution and close monitoring .

Amphetamine and its derivative, methamphetamine, are potent sympathomimetics and among the most common illicitly abused drugs. There is ample scientific data to suggest an association between meth abuse and large artery dissections and aneurysm formation over a period of time leading to rupture and SAH . However, rapid growth of aneurysm, within weeks, and associated meth abuse is quite rare. Previously, Chen et al. was the only one to report the fast growth (within 2 weeks) of an aneurysm on a major intracranial vessel in a habitual amphetamine user . Similarly, in our case where the patient struggling with chronic methamphetamine abuse, there was a very rapid aneurysm growth (within 3 weeks) leading to rupture and ICH. The etiology is hypothesized to be meth or cocaine-induced hypertension and tachycardia (sympathetic rush in the body) that leads to progression, evolution, and growth of intra- and extracranial aneurysms .

Additionally vasculitis and other vasculopathic changes have also been postulated as major mechanisms for growth and subsequent rupture in meth abusers . Meth is known to have numerous effects on the central nervous system, specifically the cerebral vasculature. Most prominently, pathological studies of cerebral vasculature have demonstrated necrosis of blood vessel walls with the destruction of the elastic and smooth muscle layer, without leukocytic infiltration of the blood vessel walls, commonly termed necrotizing angiitis or meth arteritis . Chen et al. found much fibrotic adhesion and some fibrinoid necrotic material covering the aneurysm in their reported case . Additionally, blood-brain barrier disruption , changes in cerebral perfusion , depletion of dopamine and serotonin , and cortical grey and white matter loss have all been observed. These changes are seen in both binge and chronic users. Binge methamphetamine use is associated with compromised global and regional blood flow, likely representing severe and enduring neural toxicity of monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems in the brain, eventually producing a pattern of hypoperfusion .

Together with the CNS changes observed, transient and extreme increases in sympathetic output with blood pressure elevation can precipitate intracerebral hemorrhage either alone or in association with an underlying vascular pathology such as an aneurysm or vasculitis. A study comprising 30 patients by Ho et al. found all cases of SAH in a patient with methamphetamine abuse were aneurysmal with the majority of aneurysms located in the anterior circulation . Further, numerous studies have demonstrated poor outcomes in patients with meth abuse and ruptured aneurysms when compared to age-matched controls and younger populations of illicit drug users are usually more prone to these devastating events .

In our opinion, this case corroborates the acute and chronic cerebrovascular repercussions associated with methamphetamine binge and abuse. In this case rapid growth of the aneurysm leads to rupture and intraparenchymal hemorrhage requiring emergent craniectomy and evacuation. Careful consideration should be given to the rapid development of aneurysms in this patient population as they are at higher risk of rupture. Meth use has been implicated in the growth and rupture of aneurysms, identifying opportunities for early intervention and potential benefit. It is necessary to identify this group of patients early because numerous studies have demonstrated poor outcomes in patients with meth abuse and ruptured aneurysms when compared to age-matched controls, making it imperative to prevent rupture when possible through endovascular or surgical interventions . Based on our experience, we anticipate vigilant monitoring of aneurysms and aggressive strategies treatment in patients with current or previous meth abuse.

4. Conclusion

This case highlights the risk of rapid aneurysm growth and rupture as well as the effects of meth on the CNS and cerebral vasculature that may contribute to the higher incidence of SAH in this patient population. The outcome after a ruptured aneurysm in this population is worse than age-matched controls, necessitating close follow-up, and a consideration for more aggressive treatment with endovascular embolization or open surgical clipping after aneurysms are found in patients with methamphetamine abuse. The possibility of a rapid drug-induced pseudoaneurysm should also be considered when faced with intracerebral or subarachnoid hemorrhage in young patients.


SAH: Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
Meth: Methamphetamine
ATS: Amphetamine Like Substances
ER: Emergency Room
CNS: Central Nervous system
CT: Computed Tomography
CT-A: Computer Tomographic Angiography
GCS: Glasgow Coma Scale
EVD: Extraventricular Drain
ICU: Intensive Care Unit
ICA: Internal Carotid Artery
CNS: Central nervous system
ICH: Intracerebral hemorrhage.


The authors have not received any funding for this work from any organization.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

Methamphetamine Abuse

This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 24, 2019.

  • Care Notes

What is methamphetamine (meth) abuse?

Meth abuse is any use of meth, or needing more meth for the same effects you got from smaller amounts. Meth is an illegal drug that stimulates your central nervous system.

What may happen right after I use meth?

You will have changes in your behavior and how you feel when you use meth. These changes usually occur right away. You may be more talkative, active, nervous, and you may anger more easily. You also may have an increased desire for sexual activity.

What are the long-term effects of meth abuse?

  • Memory and concentration problems can make it hard to learn or remember information. You may feel confused. You may also do things more slowly than before.
  • Behavior problems may include violent or impulsive actions. Impulsive means you act without thinking first.
  • Physical problems include heart weakness or damage. Your heart may have trouble working correctly. Men may have a decreased ability to have sex.
  • Self-care problems include not keeping yourself clean and not eating properly because you are focused on using meth. Meth may cause you to look older than you really are.
  • Skin problems may happen if you start picking at your skin or do not care for needle marks. 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.
  • Mouth problems can develop from meth use. Meth can cause dry mouth and make 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. Your teeth may need to be pulled out.

What are the signs and symptoms of meth abuse?

  • Fast or fluttering heartbeat, and chest pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever, chills, and sweats
  • Ringing in your ears or grinding your teeth
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Seizure or coma

How else is meth harmful?

  • Meth is more harmful when you combine it with alcohol or other drugs, such as cannabis or cocaine. This can be life-threatening.
  • Your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV and hepatitis, is increased. You may have sex more often with different people. You may be less likely to practice safe sex, such as using a condom. People who inject meth often share used or dirty needles.
  • Exposure and burns in meth labs happen because meth is cooked from chemicals and materials. These can cause a fire or explosion. You can get burns from the open flame when you cook meth or are in the meth lab. The following problems can also happen:
    • You may feel sick or vomit. You may also have a headache or trouble breathing.
    • You may have chest pain and feel dizzy.
    • Your eyes may be damaged. Burns may occur on your skin, or you may get an inhalation burn. This occurs when you breathe in the chemicals used to make meth and damage your lungs. This can be life-threatening.
    • Children and others in the area may breathe in, eat, or absorb chemicals through their skin. They can be poisoned, or stuck by needles. Their lungs can be damaged by breathing in the smoke from meth.

What is 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. Withdrawal signs and symptoms go away in days to weeks after you stop using meth. Meth withdrawal can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Feeling sad or wanting to kill yourself
  • Strong cravings for meth
  • Feeling tired, sleeping longer than usual or not being able sleep at all, or bad dreams
  • Trouble focusing on a task, moving more slowly and taking longer to complete tasks, or feeling restless
  • Feeling nervous, angry, hungry, or unwell, or thinking people are trying to hurt you

How does meth affect an unborn baby or child?

  • If you are pregnant and use meth, your baby may not grow in your womb as he should. He 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. Ask healthcare providers for more information about treatment programs and drug use while breastfeeding.
  • Your child may not grow as he should. He also may have trouble learning or managing anger.

How is meth abuse diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. You may also need any the following:

  • Blood, urine, and hair tests may be used to check for meth. You may also be tested for HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.
  • A newborn meconium test may be used to check for meth. Meconium is your newborn baby’s first bowel movement.

How is meth abuse treated?

A monitor will be put on you to check your heart. You may be given treatments to decrease a high body temperature. You may also need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to absorb the drug if you swallowed meth, or to lower your blood pressure. Medicines may be given to help you stay calm, reduce depression, or decrease false thoughts.
  • Contingency management is a program to help you stop using drugs by giving rewards. You may be rewarded for staying in treatment or giving drug-free urine samples. You may get rewards for having STI or tuberculosis tests, or getting vaccines to help decrease the spread of disease. Rewards may include vouchers to buy food.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change your thinking and behavior. It can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by meth use. CBT can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in group therapy.
  • Family therapy and support groups may include your friends and family. Support groups are meetings with a talk therapist and other people who have used meth or other drugs. Programs near where you live may support your choice to quit using drugs. Ask for information about programs in your town.
  • Harm reduction is a program to help support your choice to avoid spreading disease. You may be able to return used needles and syringes and replace them with clean items.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have chest pain, and your heartbeat or breathing is 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You are using meth and 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2019 Information is for End User’s use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Learn more about Methamphetamine Abuse

Associated drugs

  • Drug Dependence

IBM Watson Micromedex

  • Narcotic Abuse

What happens to your body when you use ice?

Ice, along with speed and base, is a form of the potent stimulant drug methamphetamine.

Also referred to as shabu, crystal, crystal meth or d-meth, ice is the purest and most potent form of methamphetamine. It comes as a powder or crystals that are usually snorted, injected or smoked.

The latest figures from the National Drug Survey suggest 2 per cent of Australians use methamphetamine — a figure that has not really changed much over the past decade, said Dr Nicole Lee, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute.

But about half of those who use methamphetamines say they prefer to take ice, and the number of people using ice has doubled since the last survey, Dr Lee said.

Can you become dependent after just one use of ice?

How quickly you feel the effect of methamphetamine depends on the form, the route of administration and how much of it you use, Dr Lee said.

“Mostly people will smoke, inject or swallow a pill,” she said. Sometimes people dissolve it into alcohol or water and drink it.

“If you smoke it, it has an immediate high, just in a couple of minutes you’ll get quite a big hit. Whereas if you ingest it through your stomach it’s about 20 minutes before you start to feel the effects.”

The immediate effects from ice are intense pleasure and clarity. Users say they have lots of energy and can think clearly, feel like they can make good decisions, and plan effectively.

This is because methamphetamine dramatically increases the levels of the hormone dopamine – by up to 1,000 times the normal level – much more than any other pleasure seeking activity or drug.

Physical effects can include dilated pupils, an increased heart and breathing rate, a reduced appetite and an increased sex drive.

The next day

The effects usually last for between four and 12 hours, although methamphetamine can be detected in blood and urine for up to 72 hours.

Methamphetamines and psychosis

  • Almost one quarter of regular methamphetamine users will experience a symptom of psychosis in any given year.
  • Methamphetamine psychosis typically involves feeling overly suspicious, having strange beliefs about things that are not plausible, or hearing and seeing things that are not there.
  • These symptoms can vary in intensity and usually last up to two to three hours, but sometimes symptoms can be severe and last for days.
  • People with schizophrenia are far more likely to experience psychosis after using methamphetamine than other users.

After the effects of the drug wear off, you’ll begin to come down, sometimes up to 24 hours after you used the drug.

If you’re coming down from methamphetamine you’re likely to feel the opposite of what you feel when you’re high. So you’ll have trouble making decisions, poor concentration and difficulty planning.

You may also have headaches, blurred vision and start to feel hungry.

It’s pretty common to feel flat, depressed, jittery and anxious. You may feel exhausted and want to sleep for a day or two, although you may have difficulty sleeping, Dr Lee said.

Some people may also feel very irritable or have mild psychotic symptoms like paranoia and hallucinations.

“The ‘come down’ period is like a hangover, a recovery period after which people may move into withdrawal if they are dependent,” she said.

Using again and again

Once users start to take ice at higher doses or to use it more frequently, the pleasurable effects tend to give way to less pleasurable ones, Dr Lee said.

Physically this might involve a racing heart and increased breathing rate, a rise in body temperature, a dry mouth and sometimes nausea and vomiting.

At critical toxicity or overdose levels, people can also have stroke or heart failure, and occasionally seizures.

Once you start taking higher doses you may also start to feel jumpy or anxious, hostile and aggressive. This can escalate to feelings of intense paranoia or psychotic episodes.

This is caused by methamphetamine’s release of another neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called noradrenaline, which induces a fight or flight response.

It’s these users that typically turn up in emergency departments and pose a challenge to medical staff, said David Caldicott, an Emergency Consultant at the Calvary Hospital in Canberra.

This is because they are often dealing with methamphetamine’s “double-whammy” of physical as well as psychological effects, he said.

For instance a user could present to emergency with stroke-like symptoms but be severely agitated and aggressive.

“It’s kind of a Benjamin Button type drug so… see a stroke or aortic dissection in someone using ice in their 20s or 30s,” he said.

What is drug dependence?

There’s a whole range of symptoms that indicate you’re dependent on a drug.

These include:

  • needing more of drug to get the same effect
  • having withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, panic attacks, excessive, tiredness, extreme hunger
  • spending large amounts of time seeking out the drug, using it or recovering from it

If it is starting to affect home life, work life, or schooling, that’s an indicator that you are dependent.

Chronic withdrawals

It takes between 10 to 14 days to physically detox from methamphetamine, almost twice as long as many other drugs.

After an acute withdrawal period, there’s a more chronic withdrawal period that may take 12 to 18 months.

“It makes it very difficult for people to get off because having cravings, feeling really flat, jumpy and anxious for over a year-and-a-half is a long time,” Dr Lee said.

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to come off ice and other methamphetamines is that the drugs target the dopamine system. Regular and huge bursts of dopamine can effectively wear the relevant brain regions out, so the brain is no longer able to produce enough dopamine.

“The feeling that you get when you have lots of dopamine in your system is a feeling of incredible pleasure so when the dopamine system wears out, people really feel very flat, and depressed,” Dr Lee said.

In order to feel normal, users need more methamphetamine on board, which is one of the reasons relapse rates are so high.

But Dr Lee said research shows that changes to the dopamine system are recoverable over time.

How addictive is ice?

All drugs have the potential for dependence. In 2013-14:

  • 40 per cent of treatment in Australia was for alcohol
  • 24 per cent for cannabis
  • 17 per cent for methamphetamine
  • 7 per cent for heroin

People do become addicted to methamphetamine, but it is not the most addictive drug around, said Dr Lee. Among methamphetamine users who use regularly around 10 to 15 per cent are dependent compared to 50 per cent of heroin users and 95 per cent of cigarette smokers.

“Compared to some other drugs, it has moderate dependence potential. The rate of dependence among users is probably similar to cannabis,” she said.

“However, because of the significant brain changes from methamphetamine, once someone becomes dependent on methamphetamine, they often find it very difficult to get off. And we don’t know who it is that will become dependent and who won’t.”

Dr Lee and colleagues have done research in this area and found there was a year between when people first started using ice regularly — weekly or more than weekly — and when they started experiencing problems including dependence.

However, it’s hard to predict who will become dependent and who won’t. And once you are dependent, it is quite hard to get off because of how it affects your brain, Dr Lee said.

Who’s using and where?

Australia has fairly strong data on the use of illicit drugs, thanks to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted every three years.

Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University, said some parts of Australia have higher rates of usage.

“You see a significantly higher level of use in the rural areas. More people have used over their lifetime, more people have used in the last 12 months — which we consider to be recent use.”

Younger Australians are more likely to use the drug, especially men.

“We see concentrations in young males in their late teens to late 20s. We see high concentrations of use among young males who are working in industry and trade areas. Consumption occurs across the board, but there’s really high concentration there,” Professor Roche said.

And the way in which Australians are using methamphetamine has changed.

“Where people used speed previously, mostly as a tablet, now they smoke it,” she said.

“If you’re smoking, it’s a kind of innocuous activity and what people used to say is they continue to smoke, or do it socially in a group, and that encourages people to consume more.”

Smoking Meth

Author: Chris Elkins, MA | Last Updated: 6/01/18 | 8 sources

Smoking meth is the fastest way to get the drug to the brain. For people who only care about getting high, smoking the drug can seem like a good idea. But it causes profound changes to the brain that can lead to meth addiction.

Side Effects of Smoking Meth

Smoking methamphetamine causes a more intense high than snorting or injecting the drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When a person smokes meth, the drug enters blood in the lungs and travels to the brain. The person feels a rush of energy and happiness, and breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure increase.

Smoking meth also causes side effects, including:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Itching
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Sleep problems

In high doses or with repeated use, meth can cause hallucinations and more serious health problems. A meth overdose can cause a heart attack, stroke or coma.

After the high fades, people experience meth withdrawal. The crash causes depression, exhaustion and strong cravings for the drug.

Inhaling meth increases the risk of dental problems that are commonly referred to as meth mouth. Symptoms of meth mouth include tooth decay, inflamed gums and tooth loss. Smoking meth can also cause long-term damage to the throat and lungs.

Research on the effects of smoking meth while pregnant is limited. Studies have found that the children of mothers who smoked meth during pregnancy were more likely to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. They were also more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior and learning problems.

Why People Smoke Meth

People have different reasons for smoking meth. Most people try meth for the first time because they’re looking for a greater high than other drugs can provide. They may choose to smoke it because they’re used to smoking gateway drugs, such as cigarettes or marijuana.

They may only have access to crystal meth, also referred to as ice. Ice is a form of meth that is usually smoked. Converting it into a substance that can be injected is complicated, and some people are hesitant to shoot meth. Smoking the drug also causes a more rapid and intense high than injecting or snorting meth.

Many people who use drugs are concerned with bioavailability, which refers to the dose of the drug that enters the blood after it’s consumed. They don’t want to swallow the drug because a large portion of the meth will be metabolized and excreted before it reaches the brain. Smoking meth forces almost all of the meth to reach the brain, according to a 2003 study published in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

How People Smoke Meth

Most people smoke crystal meth or ice out of specialized glass pipes. They also use a variety of homemade contraptions, such as pen cases, aluminum foil and light bulbs.

Smoking meth usually leaves brown or black residue on the pipe or makeshift pipe. Dirty aluminum foil, tubes, pipes or other contraptions can be signs of meth use.

When people smoke meth, they usually don’t hold the meth vapors in their lungs for a long time. They’re often aware of the damage that meth can do to their lungs.

Few people smoke meth one time per session. Most people who use the drug smoke it every 10 to 15 minutes to prevent the high from fading. The effects of meth can last between six and 12 hours, but the initial high or rush from the drug lasts for less than 30 minutes.

Some people smoke meth continuously for multiple days. Repeatedly smoking meth drains the brain of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that affects mood and happiness. When people smoke the drug for multiple days, they lose the ability to get high because their dopamine levels drop so low.

These binges change the way the brain operates. The organ reprograms itself to crave meth so it can achieve the same feelings of happiness. The more often a person smokes meth, the more addicted they’ll become to the drug.

AuthorSenior Content Writer, Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication. @ChrisTheCritic9 editor ,

View Sources

Snorting Meth: Side Effects and Dangers

Home Exclusive Treatment Center Options for Crystal Meth Addiction Snorting Meth: Side Effects and Dangers

Is Snorting Meth Dangerous?

Recreational use of methamphetamine by any means is always dangerous. It is a highly addictive drug with the potential for causing serious physical, psychological, and social problems.1-6

Methamphetamine—also known as meth, chalk, ice, or crystal—is a potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system.1,3,4 It is a white, odorless, bitter tasting powder easily dissolved in water or alcohol.1,2,4,5 It may be taken orally but more commonly it is smoked, snorted, or injected.1,2,4,5 However it is used, the effects are the same; it causes a pleasurable sense of well-being (euphoria), increased activity, talkativeness, and decreased appetite. It raises heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, sometimes to critical levels.1-5

Recreational use of methamphetamine by any means is always dangerous.

Methamphetamine was developed early in the twentieth century for use in nasal decongestants and bronchodilators.1,5 Nowadays, it is rarely prescribed for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and for short-term use in weight loss treatments.2,5 Currently, the United States (U.S.) Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II drug, meaning it is a drug with a high potential for abuse; using it may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.2,3,5,6 Legally it is only available through a non-refillable prescription.2

Short-Term Effects

Taken even in a small amount, meth can bring on the same health effects as other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines.1 Short-term effects from meth use may include the following:1,3,5

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Faster breathing.
  • Paranoia.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat.
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Seizures.

In addition, taking meth via snorting may cause nosebleeds, affect the sinuses, and damage the lining of the nose and the nasal cartilage.

Long-Term Effects

Over time, the persistent abuse of methamphetamine results in severe damage to the nervous, circulatory, renal, and respiratory systems.2,5 The physical effects of long-term meth abuse include:1,5

  • Extreme weight loss.
  • Severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
  • An increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Liver damage.
  • Kidney failure.

Meth has devastating psychological consequences as well, such as impaired memory, mood changes, insomnia, confusion, paranoia, delusions, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis.1,5

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Currently, there are no medications approved for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. Treatment involves therapies aimed at changing behavior, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management interventions. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that aims to improve mental health. It seeks to identify and change negative thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors; regulate emotions; and develop strategies to cope with stressful life situations.7 Contingency management encourages individuals to remain sober and continue to engage in treatment by providing concrete rewards to incentivize abstinence.8

The Matrix Model is a comprehensive treatment program focused on behavioral change that uses many different therapeutic modalities, such as behavioral therapy, individual counseling, and 12-step support. The model also includes education for the individual and family, drug testing, and promotion of healthy activities. It is proven to be effective in reducing meth abuse.9

The problem of diversion

A lot of people in their 20’s can obtain prescription ADHD medications even though they don’t have a doctor’s recommendation. This is a big issue that can give way to widespread abuse. But where do these individuals get ahold of the prescription medications? According to a survey conducted by Recovery Brands in 2016, the majority of people between 18 and 28 years old get their hands on their doctor-prescribed ADHD stimulant medications from a friend. 20.4% get them via family, more than 18% through schoolmates, and 14.8% by means of a drug dealer. Those with a prescription are advised to keep track of their medications to treat ADHD in order to protect vulnerable college-age people from the consequences of abuse.

Finding Help

There are many treatment facilities available to provide assistance to stop snorting meth. Frequent meth use can lead to adverse health effects and even death, and the risk increases with the length of time it is used.

About the Editor

Kindra Sclar, M.A.

Kindra Sclar is a Senior Web Content Editor for American Addiction Centers. Before joining the company, she worked for more than 8 years as a print and web editor for several print and online publishers. Kindra has worked on content…

7 scary side effects of meth that are deadly

Image zoom Getty Image/Jonathan Morgan

A few weeks ago, Kaylee Muthart, a 20-year-old woman from South Carolina, gouged her own eyes out while high on methamphetamine. Muthart went blind from the attack on herself, and her devastating story made national news. Now, only weeks later, Muthart has spoken about her story in an essay on Cosmopolitan in an attempt to warn others about the dangers of drug addiction. As hard as her graphic story is to read, it’s also an important one: Meth is an incredibly addictive and serious drug, with many scary side effects that are deadly.

Sadly, Muthart is far from the only person out there to have a tragic story concerning meth. Just as one example, at the end of 2017, Fergie opened up about her own struggles with meth addiction. In both stories, the young women talk about intense hallucinations and paranoia, but these aren’t the only things that can happen to you when you’re on meth.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant, and common symptoms include increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, a feeling of euphoria, rapid and irregular heartbeat, and increased respiration. These side effects, however, are a walk in the park compared to the extremely serious and deadly side effects that can often occur when using meth. When it comes to drugs, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s always important to be well-informed. Below are some of the deadly side effects of meth that are proof that this drug is never one to mess around with.

1. Violent behavior

Meth affects the central nervous system. When you take it, whether you’re smoking it, snorting it, or shooting it up, it goes to your brain and unleashes a ton of dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good — but so much of it can seriously mess with your mood. Meth, like many addictive drugs, is known to lead to violent behavior, which can lead to hundreds of differently deadly situations.

2. Increased risk of HIV

Meth users are at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV and hepatitis, partly because the drug makes them act impulsively. Users are known to have sex with different people without using protection. People who do meth regularly often being shooting it up, meaning they are usually sharing or using dirty needles. All of these things can lead to a potentially deadly STI like HIV.

Image zoom Getty Image/Daniel Kaesler / EyeEm

3. Psychosis

This drug doesn’t just negatively affect a person’s physical health — it damages mental health as well. One of the terrible side effects of meth is psychosis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “chronic abusers may exhibit symptoms that can include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.”

These side effects are what led Muthart to gouge her own eyes out. Although she will always be blind, Muthart is lucky to still be alive. According to research, the side effects of meth are also linked to suicide.

4. Organ damage

Using meth can lead to lasting side effects that won’t go away even if users stop taking the drug, like organ failure. According to The Recovery Village, “using meth can damage the liver and increase your risk of developing hepatitis or acute liver failure.” Use of the drug can elevate your body temperature so much that it can cause your kidneys to shut down. Meth can break down muscle tissues that then become toxins that can destroy your kidneys.

Smoking meth causes the toxins to go straight to the lungs, seriously damaging them. Meth can also cause your blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to your lungs and leading to the accumulation of fluid.

Image zoom Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Science VU

5. Stroke or cardiac arrest

Meth is considered a stimulant, which is why it can cause increased activity and a feeling of euphoria and energy. But that can also have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. It puts stress on your heart with elevated blood pressure. Meth itself can damage and weaken your heart and cardiovascular system, leading to heart attacks and strokes, which can in turn be deadly. According to American Addiction Centers, “Chronic crystal meth use results in decreased circulation, increasing blood pressure and weakening veins. As a result of these changes, a person is much more likely to have a stroke.”

6. Coma

If someone overdoses on meth, they can easily go into a coma… if they don’t have a stroke or heart attack first. According to rehab center Futures of Palm Beach, “When an individual overdoses on crystal meth, the body works overtime to pump blood to the heart. The already elevated heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke. The body can go into shock or coma, causing irreparable damage.”

7. Blood clots

As you may already know, blood clots can cause sudden death. Meth can constrict the blood vessels and the veins, causing blood clots to form. On top of that, The Recovery Village says that “meth can not only create clots, but it’s toxic to your blood vessels, so that can cause rupturing that can then lead to bleeding into the heart.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with drug addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If you require immediate medical attention, dial 9-1-1.

  • By Jessica Booth

Recovery can be a long process but through correct medical attention, psychological counseling as well as support and accountability, individuals can recover from the addiction and return to a normal life.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to meth, seeking help can save a life.

Learn more about meth addiction treatment and how to get long-term help at Legacy Healing Center. With a variety of programs and treatment options, achieving sobriety is closer than you may think. Call us today at 888-597-3547.

At Legacy Healing Center, our approach to recovery is built around a holistic methodology. We look at addiction as a comprehensive issue and offer a complete set of services to heal the physical body, the mind, and the spirit. Combining research-evidenced practices from medicine and psychology, our team of highly trained professionals looks at all aspects of our clients’ lives on an individual basis. Our holistic approach to healing encompasses more than dealing with addiction through primary treatment strategies like therapy and meetings. We offer a full range of services to heal the whole person, body, mind, and spirit.

Legacy Healing Center is dedicated to providing current and factual health information in the substance abuse industry. Our mission is to spread awareness around the disease of addiction for individuals seeking help.

methamphetamine (Desoxyn)

Brand Names: Desoxyn

Generic Name: methamphetamine

  • What is methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • What are the possible side effects of methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • What is the most important information I should know about methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • How should I take methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • What happens if I miss a dose (Desoxyn)?
  • What happens if I overdose (Desoxyn)?
  • What should I avoid while taking methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • What other drugs will affect methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?
  • Where can I get more information (Desoxyn)?

What is methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.

Methamphetamine is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also to treat obesity in people who have not lost weight with diets or other treatments.

Methamphetamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Desoxyn- methamphetamine 5mg, 55292

round, white, imprinted with R, 12

Methamphetamine 5 mg 683080115

round, white, imprinted with 115

What are the possible side effects of methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • signs of heart problems–chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling like you might pass out;
  • signs of psychosis–hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), new behavior problems, aggression, hostility, paranoia;
  • signs of circulation problems–numbness, pain, cold feeling, unexplained wounds, or skin color changes (pale, red, or blue appearance) in your fingers or toes;
  • a seizure (convulsions);
  • muscle twitches (tics); or
  • changes in your vision.

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Methamphetamine can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache or dizziness;
  • fast heartbeats;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach;
  • tremors; or
  • loss of appetite, weight loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about methamphetamine (Desoxyn)?

You should not use this medicine if you have glaucoma, overactive thyroid, severe agitation, moderate to severe high blood pressure, heart disease or coronary artery disease, or a history of drug abuse.

Methamphetamine may be habit-forming, and this medicine is a drug of abuse. Tell your doctor if you have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.

Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in people with high blood pressure, heart disease, or a heart defect.

Do not use methamphetamine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.

Methamphetamine may cause new or worsening psychosis (unusual thoughts or behavior), especially if you have a history of depression, mental illness, or bipolar disorder.

You may have blood circulation problems that can cause numbness, pain, or discoloration in your fingers or toes.

Call your doctor right away if you have: signs of heart problems–chest pain, feeling light-headed or short of breath; signs of psychosis–paranoia, aggression, new behavior problems, seeing or hearing things that are not real; signs of circulation problems–unexplained wounds on your fingers or toes.

424 Shares By The Recovery Village Editor Renee Deveney Reviewer Conor Sheehy Updated on01/24/20

Meth use can lead to severe addiction, and its abuse is a continuous and widespread issue in the United States. Abuse of the drug creates serious health problems and sometimes leads to fatal consequences. Knowing the signs and symptoms of meth abuse can help you identify whether someone you know may be using this dangerous drug.

As a person continues to use methamphetamine, they are likely to display many outward signs indicating their drug dependency. Meth addiction can manifest itself in a variety of physical forms, from rotting teeth to hyperactivity and more. If you believe a loved one may be addicted to methamphetamine, understanding the signs and symptoms can enable you to find the resources necessary to help them heal from addiction.

Table of Contents

Signs of Meth Use

Methamphetamine profoundly affects a person’s brain and body. It alters how a person thinks and feels as they prioritize obtaining the next dose of the drug. These effects are often visible in many areas of a person’s life. You may notice a sudden loss of interest in other areas of life. Hobbies, relationships and career goals can all take a back seat to addiction.

It is common for people who use the drug frequently to display these behavioral signs of meth addiction:

  • Behavioral Signs of Meth Addiction:
    • A sudden change in social groups
    • Clumsiness (decreased fine motor skills)
    • Criminality, such as stealing money in order to buy meth
    • Displaying a tic or twitch (a small, repetitive behavior, such as pulling hair or picking at a particular spot on the skin)
    • Distracted behavior in social situations
    • Erratic sleep patterns, such as insomnia and hypersomnia
    • Extreme loss of appetite (eating little or not at all for several days)
    • Forgetting important dates, times or events
    • Hyperactivity and high energy
    • Increased aggression or violent behavior
    • Isolating themselves from others
    • Loss of interest in usual activities
    • Neglecting relationships
    • Obsessive focus on a particular issue or task
    • Risky financial behavior, such as cashing out savings in order to buy meth
    • Risky sexual behavior

People who use meth may also have a variety of items needed to use the drug. They may try to hide these items or store them in different places throughout their home, car or work.

  • Some examples of drug paraphernalia:
    • A water pipe or other pipe
    • An unusually large amount of aluminum foil, particularly with burn or scorch marks
    • Burned spoons
    • Needles or syringes (that appear to be used or out of their packaging)
    • New shoelaces or rubber tubing (used as a tourniquet if injecting the drug intravenously)
    • Pieces of glass or shards of a broken mirror, or razor blades (used to snort meth)
    • Rolled up slips of paper, rolled up dollar bills, empty pen cases or straws (used to snort meth)

Anyone can become addicted to methamphetamine regardless of gender, race or age. If you notice one or more of these signs in a loved one, they may have a methamphetamine addiction. Knowing how someone acts on meth is a good first step in getting them the help they need. Substance use disorder is a disease that often requires the expertise of a medical professional. With proper treatment and support, it’s possible to heal from meth addiction.

Symptoms of Meth Use

Meth addiction can cause a variety of physical and psychological reactions.

  • Common Short-Term Side Effects:
    • Bad breath
    • Blackened, rotting teeth (also known as “meth mouth”)
    • Broken teeth (the result of meth-induced tooth grinding)
    • Burns, particularly on the lips or fingers
    • Dilated pupils
    • Extreme sweating
    • Irregular breathing patterns
    • Needle marks on the arms
    • Nosebleeds
    • Premature aging of the skin
    • Sores that are slow to heal
    • Sudden or severe weight loss
  • Common Long-Term Side Effects:
    • A feeling that there are insects crawling under the skin
    • Agitation, or nervous excitement
    • Anxiety, or a feeling of worry or unease
    • Depression or depressed mood
    • Mood swings
    • Nervousness
    • Paranoia, or unreasonable distrust of others
    • Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)

Beyond these common symptoms, some people who use methamphetamine experience severe and immediately life-threatening issues such as seizures, heart attacks and liver failure. These are medical conditions that require care in a hospital.

Effects of Long-Term Meth Use

Methamphetamine is a dangerous and highly addictive stimulant. If meth abuse is continued over a long period of time, the brain begins to rely on its stimulant effects and creates a need for its use. This turns into addiction — the most dangerous of all long-term effects of methamphetamine use.

These long-term health effects can be divided into physical and psychological categories.

  • Physical Side Effects of Meth Use:
    • Blackened, rotting teeth (also known as “meth mouth”)
    • Death
    • Infection (due to skin-picking and poor hygiene, both of which often accompany methamphetamine use)
    • Kidney failure
    • Liver failure
    • Malnutrition (due to an extreme loss of appetite)
    • Overdose and death
    • Reproductive issues, such as miscarriages and infertility
  • Psychological Effect of Long-Term Meth Use:
    • Aggression
    • Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure, resulting from the destruction of dopamine receptors in the brain)
    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Impaired cognition, judgment, memory and motor skills
    • Paranoia
    • Tolerance, leading to increased dosage

Meth addiction, or methamphetamine use disorder, is the psychological drive to continue using the drug despite harmful consequences to health, finances and relationships. Addiction develops over time and may have severe consequences daily and in the long term.

Developing an addiction is a process, not an event, and begins with the person developing a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is when someone requires increasing amounts for the drug to be effective. Dependence often develops alongside tolerance and is when a drug cannot be stopped without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The drive to prevent withdrawal symptoms is a significant contributor to addictive behaviors. Attending treatment or a drug detox program can help manage withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

The recovery process requires significant time, concentrated medical attention and psychological counseling. It also requires a significant amount of support and accountability so an individual does not return to drug use after becoming sober.

Can You Overdose on Meth?

Yes. Overdose on methamphetamine is common. When a person consumes a large amount of the drug at one time, their body may be unable to remove the drug, resulting in coma, seizure and sometimes death.

  • Common Signs of an Overdose:
    • Agitation
    • Chest pain
    • Extreme anxiety
    • Heart attack
    • High body temperature
    • Irregular breathing
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Kidney failure
    • Seizure
    • Stroke

If you believe that someone is experiencing a meth overdose, call 911 immediately. Professional medical assistance is the best chance the person has at survival. Follow the directions of the 911 operator and give as much correct and accurate information as possible.

The lasting effects of overdose are sometimes permanent.

Find effective, comprehensive care at The Recovery Village.

View Our Centers

  • Sources

    DEA Diversion Control Division. “Methamphetamine.” July 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “DrugFacts: Methamphetamine.” May 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “What is the Scope of Methamphetamine Abuse in the United States?” April 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


What is methamphetamine?

Photo by DEA Crystal methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

Other common names for methamphetamine include blue, crystal, ice, meth, and speed.

How do people use methamphetamine?

People can take methamphetamine by:

  • smoking
  • swallowing (pill)
  • snorting
  • injecting the powder that has been dissolved in water/alcohol

Because the “high” from the drug both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.

Short-Term Effects

Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same health effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. These include:

  • increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • decreased appetite
  • faster breathing
  • rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure and body temperature

How Do Manufacturers Make Methamphetamine?

Currently, most methamphetamine in the United States is produced by transactional criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico. This methamphetamine is highly pure, potent, and low in price. The drug can be easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medications. To curb this kind of production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail stores to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine, and take steps to limit sales.

Methamphetamine production also involves a number of other very dangerous chemicals. Toxic effects from these chemicals can remain in the environment long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of health problems for people living in the area. These chemicals can also result in deadly lab explosions and house fires.

What are other health effects of methamphetamine?

Photo byDozenist/CC BY-SA “Meth mouth”

Long-Term Effects

People who inject methamphetamine are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. These diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids that can remain on drug equipment. Methamphetamine use can also alter judgment and decision-making leading to risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, which also increases risk for infection.

Methamphetamine use may worsen the progression of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Studies indicate that HIV causes more injury to nerve cells and more cognitive problems in people who use methamphetamine than it does in people who have HIV and don’t use the drug.1 Cognitive problems are those involved with thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.

Long-term methamphetamine use has many other negative consequences, including:

  • extreme weight loss
  • addiction
  • severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
  • intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • anxiety
  • changes in brain structure and function
  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • sleeping problems
  • violent behavior
  • paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they aren’t

In addition, continued methamphetamine use causes changes in the brain’s dopamine system that are associated with reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning. In studies of people who used methamphetamine over the long term, severe changes also affected areas of the brain involved with emotion and memory.2 This may explain many of the emotional and cognitive problems seen in those who use methamphetamine.

Although some of these brain changes may reverse after being off the drug for a year or more, other changes may not recover even after a long period of time.3 A recent study even suggests that people who once used methamphetamine have an increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nerves that affects movement.4

Are there health effects from exposure to secondhand methamphetamine smoke?

Researchers don’t yet know whether people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or have other health effects. What they do know is that people can test positive for methamphetamine after exposure to secondhand smoke.5,6 More research is needed in this area.

Can a person overdose on methamphetamine?

Yes, a person can overdose on methamphetamine. An overdose occurs when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death.

In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. (CDC Wonder Multiple Causes of Death—see #42 on Meth RR.) It is important to note that cheap, dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to street methamphetamine without the user knowing

How can a methamphetamine overdose be treated?

Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the intent of:

  • restoring blood flow to the affected part of the brain (stroke)
  • restoring blood flow to the heart (heart attack)
  • treating the organ problems

Is methamphetamine addictive?

Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • severe depression
  • psychosis
  • intense drug cravings

How is methamphetamine addiction treated?

While research is underway, there are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction. The good news is that methamphetamine misuse can be prevented and addiction to the drug can be treated with behavioral therapies. The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies, such as:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations likely to trigger drug use.
  • motivational incentives, which uses vouchers or small cash rewards to encourage patients to remain drug-free

Research also continues toward development of medicines and other new treatments for methamphetamine use, including vaccines, and noninvasive stimulation of the brain using magnetic fields. People can and do recover from methamphetamine addiction if they have ready access to effective treatments that address the multitude of medical and personal problems resulting from long-term use.

Points to Remember

  • Methamphetamine is usually a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.
  • Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine (a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy).
  • People can take methamphetamine by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the drug.
  • Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is involved in movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.
  • Short-term health effects include increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Long-term health effects include risk of addiction; risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis; severe dental problems (“meth mouth”); intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching; violent behavior; and paranoia.
  • Methamphetamine can be highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings.
  • Researchers don’t yet know if people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or suffer other health effects.
  • A person can overdose on methamphetamine. Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions.
  • The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies. There are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction.

Learn More

For more information about methamphetamine, visit our:

  • Methamphetamine webpage
  • Commonly Abused Drugs chart

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Photo credit: Oats

Crystal meth is short for crystal methamphetamine. It is just one form of the drug methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is a white crystalline drug that people take by snorting it (inhaling through the nose), smoking it or injecting it with a needle. Some even take it orally, but all develop a strong desire to continue using it because the drug creates a false sense of happiness and well-being—a rush (strong feeling) of confidence, hyperactiveness and energy. One also experiences decreased appetite. These drug effects generally last from six to eight hours, but can last up to twenty-four hours.

The first experience might involve some pleasure, but from the start, methamphetamine begins to destroy the user’s life.

Meth user in 2002
…and 2 1/2 years later

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an illegal drug in the same class as cocaine and other powerful street drugs. It has many nicknames—meth, crank, chalk or speed being the most common. (See the list of street names.)

Crystal meth is used by individuals of all ages, but is most commonly used as a “club drug,” taken while partying in night clubs or at rave parties. Its most common street names are ice or glass.

It is a dangerous and potent chemical and, as with all drugs, a poison that first acts as a stimulant but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Thus it is associated with serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage.

Highly addictive, meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.

Crystal meth’s effect is highly concentrated, and many users report getting hooked (addicted) from the first time they use it.

“I tried it once and BOOM! I was addicted,” said one meth addict who lost his family, friends, his profession as a musician and ended up homeless.

Consequently, it is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat and many die in its grip.

“I started using crystal meth when I was a senior in high school. Before my first semester of college was up, meth became such a big problem that I had to drop out. I looked like I had chicken pox, from hours of staring at myself in the mirror and picking at myself. I spent all my time either doing meth, or trying to get it.”
—Anne Marie

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *