Meth Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

While a lot of the media attention and public efforts regarding drug abuse in Colorado are focused on opioids, there’s another drug that’s problematic in the state as well, and that’s crystal meth, often referred to as just meth.

The following highlights some of the side effects of meth, and signs of meth use to look out for.

It’s important for people in areas throughout Colorado whether it be Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs or anywhere else in the state to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meth use, in case it’s impacting someone in their life.

Side Effects of Meth

Methamphetamine, also just called crystal meth or meth, is a drug that can be snorted, smoked or injected. It creates a euphoric rush, like so many other drugs, but there are many dangerous and even potentially deadly side effects of meth to be aware of as well.

In general, the side effects from meth can include cardiovascular problems, an increased sense of energy, decreased appetite, and the rush of the high people experience. Side effects of the meth drug can also include increased levels of respiration, high levels of attention, decreased fatigue, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Hyperthermia is also a potential meth side effect.

Meth drug side effects are due primarily to how the drug affects the brain of the user. When someone takes meth, it releases excessive amounts of dopamine into their brain. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, how pleasure and reward are experienced, and motor function. Meth side effects, as with most other drugs, are due to the release of dopamine primarily.

Meth Addiction: Symptoms, Signs, & Side Effects

Meth Side Effects After Quitting

For people who are currently abusing meth and want to stop, they may wonder if there are any common meth side effects after quitting, such as a meth come down or withdrawal.

When people come off meth, they experience side effects like extreme depression, paranoia, psychosis, anxiety, an increased appetite, and excessive sleeping. If you are trying to stop using meth successfully, a medically-supervised detox program can be the best way to help you deal with the meth side effects after quitting.

There are great meth addiction programs in Colorado for people in areas in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder, and also national programs.

Another meth side effect after quitting are cravings, and this only occurs when someone has a full-blown addiction to meth.

One reason meth is so harmful is because there are also meth side effects after quitting that may persist for months or years after a person has had their last dose. These psychotic symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Another meth side effect after quitting is the potential for a spontaneous re-emergence of meth psychosis long after someone has stopped using the drug.

Meth Side Effects Long-Term

Many of the side effects of meth are short-term, but what about the long-term effects of using this drug? The meth side effects in the short-term can include things like the feeling of euphoria, the lack of appetite, and sleep disturbances.

In the long-term meth side effects can become more dangerous and detrimental.

Some meth side effects of long-term use include:

  • Addiction
  • The inability to feel pleasure without the presence of meth
  • Withdrawal symptoms including depression, cravings, fatigue, and anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Mood problems
  • Violent or erratic behavior
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • A range of psychotic symptoms

As was touched on above, some of the symptoms of long-term meth abuse, including hallucinations and delusions, may persist well after a person has stopped using the drug.

The reason these meth side effects in the long-term can be so severe is because the drug changes the brain of the user. The dopamine system undergoes significant changes resulting in changes in both structure and function of certain areas of the brain when someone is a long-term user of meth.

Signs of Meth Use

If you’re concerned or have your suspicions about a loved one, you might be wondering what the signs of meth use are or what the symptoms of meth use can be.

Some of the most common signs of crystal meth use and symptoms of meth are:

  • An increase in physical activity
  • Increased blood pressure and breathing rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unpredictability
  • Performing repetitive tasks
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Clenching of the jaw
  • Fatigue

In many cases, because of the unpredictability of the drug, symptoms of meth use may also include depression, violence, seizures or respiratory problems.

Meth Addiction Signs

There are many meth addiction signs and meth addiction symptoms you should be aware of. If someone is addicted to meth, you’re likely to see the above short-term symptoms of meth use, paired with changes in lifestyle and behavior.

As a person becomes addicted to meth, which can happen as soon as taking it only once, it becomes their sole focus in their life. Signs of meth addiction can include lying, stealing or criminal activities done to support the habit, becoming deceitful or withdrawing from friends or family, and become entirely preoccupied with the use of meth.

When people are addicted to meth, they may try to stop using it and feel they have no control over their addiction or that they’re unable to be successful at stopping.

What about signs of a meth overdose?

The signs of a meth overdose can occur when someone takes too much of the drug, whether by accident or on purpose. Symptoms of a meth overdose may include a rapid or irregular heart rate, breathing problems, chest pain, or enlarged pupils. With a meth overdose, a heart attack can also occur.

Other signs of a meth overdose may include stomach pain, high blood pressure, and body temperature, kidney failure, agitation, and paranoia.

Meth Addiction Symptoms

As well as the short and long-term signs of meth abuse highlighted above, there are other symptoms of meth exposure that may become more apparent, particularly with long-term use.

For example, people who are chronic abusers of meth will often lose a lot of weight and be very gaunt looking.

There are also meth symptoms of the skin including scabs and sores. This is because when people take meth, it causes them to hallucinate and feel like things are crawling on them, so they will pick at their skin.

Another symptom of meth exposure is dubbed “meth mouth,” and it includes tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and general oral health problems. This occurs for a few reasons. The first is because the use of meth dries out the mouth, and the saliva that would normally combat acid from eroding teeth enamel in the mouth doesn’t work. People who are addicted to meth may also neglect their oral hygiene, and they often clench and grind their teeth and jaw.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the side effects of meth named above, it’s important to seek help. There are resources in Colorado, such as The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, as well as national locations where people can work to combat this dangerous and debilitating addiction.

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.