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The Bodies of Meth Users: The Effects of Meth Over Long-Term Use

a small baggie of crystal meth

Over 30,000 people died from meth overdoses in 2021 alone. The number of deaths has steadily increased for around a decade. 

Meth alters your physical, emotional, and mental state. Once you develop a dependency on meth, your body begins to break down. 

Keep reading to learn the effects of meth and how it impacts your body after long-term use. 

What Is Meth?

While most people have heard of meth, less know much about it. Meth is a manmade stimulant that looks like small white or bluish rocks. Meth manufacturers create the drug in home laboratories.

Not only do the effects of meth make it so dangerous, but so does its addictive nature. Meth releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain, causing a euphoric high.

Over time, meth users build tolerance and have to increase their dose to create the same high. They spend their time, energy, and money, chasing that pleasurable feeling.

Someone may turn to meth to cope with adverse situations. Risk factors for meth addiction include low self-esteem, trauma, mood disorders, and genetics.

The longer someone takes meth, the more risk they face of adverse effects and overdose. If you suspect someone you love is abusing meth, look for visual signs of meth’s effects.

Effects of Meth on Central Nervous System

Your brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls most of your bodily functions, including each of your five senses. Damage to the CNS impairs your ability to think, move, and speak.

Meth causes changes in brain chemistry, damaging your brain structurally and functionally. The risk of brain damage is higher for meth than for drugs like cocaine because of its slow metabolism rate. The effects of meth peak around 3 to 4 hours, and it metabolizes in 12 hours.

Some meth users can restore their brain health once they begin treatment, but not always.

Long-term meth use alters the brain’s messaging system and hinders emotional regulation. Signs of meth use include rage, depression, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia. Some meth users may show no emotion at all.

Brain cell death is one of meth’s long-term effects that is irreversible. Routine meth use kills cells in the frontal lobe. Damage to the frontal lobe impairs your memory, attention, movement, and judgment.

Meth Psychosis

Meth psychosis is a mental state in which meth users experience a distorted sense of reality. It can last anywhere from hours to a week. Psychosis includes paranoia, agitation, violence, hallucinations, and delusions.

During meth psychosis, you may face persecutory delusions. These delusions are false beliefs that an outside force is out to get you. You may believe the FBI is framing you, or a friend is orchestrating your demise.

Delusions and increased energy can spur psychosis-driven violence.

The most common type of hallucinations meth users encounter is tactile hallucinations. Tactile hallucinations make you feel sensations without stimulation.

“Meth mites,” also referred to as meth bugs and ice mites, are imaginary bugs that crawl across a meth user. Users feel like the bugs are on their skin or inside of their bodies, even when nothing is there.

Meth users often try to rid themselves of the bugs by opening their skin. These futile attempts contribute to their worsening skin problems.

Skin Problems

Meth users are often identified by a steep decrease in skin health. “Meth face” is one of the longtime effects of meth use, including face sores, lesions, and rapid aging.

Meth users compulsively pick at their skin, creating open wounds vulnerable to infection. They’re often covered in scabs from psychosis-induced scratching.

Other effects of meth also impact the skin’s health. Meth weakens your immune system and reduces blood flow, which contributes to skin infections and acne. Meth is also water soluble, so it exits your body through sweat and causes skin irritation.

Meth often causes users to forgo hygiene practices. Infrequent bathing and moisturizing worsen the skin’s health and form cracks and wrinkles.

Extreme Weight Loss

Stimulants affect the way your body processes hunger signals and suppress your appetite. Long-term users of meth experience no appetite so often that rapid weight loss ensues.

Once you stop eating, your body creates energy from its only sources: fat and muscle. At first, your body will pull calories from your stored fat, but then it will start to eat away at your muscle. If you don’t seek treatment your body will weaken substantially.

Meth Mouth

Like meth face, “meth mouth” describes the oral deterioration common to meth use. The longer a person uses meth, the worse their dental health becomes.

Research has found that 96% of meth users have cavities and 58% have untreated tooth decay.

Saliva neutralizes plaque acids and fights mouth infections. Stimulants like meth decrease saliva production and dry out your mouth. To make matters worse, meth’s acidity eats through your teeth’s enamel.

Psychiatric meth symptoms also contribute to your oral health decline. Anxiety makes you clench and grind your teeth, wearing them down and creating jaw pain.

The long-term effects of meth on your teeth are hard to disguise. Your teeth blacken and crumble, rotting from your mouth. Tooth damage from meth is often permanent and can only be treated by pulling teeth.

Treat Your Meth Addiction

The effects of meth cause long-term damage to every part of your body. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, you aren’t alone.

Apex Recovery Rehab provides specialized meth addiction treatment to suit your needs. Inpatient and outpatient programs are available.

Don’t delay your recovery. Contact Apex Recovery Rehab to begin your treatment.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689