Breaking Down the Side Effects of Crystal Meth

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Do you have firsthand experience using crystal meth? If so, you’re probably all too familiar with the side effects associated with it. You know what to expect. But, if you’re on the other side and are concerned about a loved one who may be using, there are specific side effects of crystal meth to watch out for. Some of the side effects of crystal meth may surprise you; they range from physical to psychological and everywhere in between. They can include:

  • An abnormal heart rhythm known as arrhythmia
  • An abnormally slow or fast heartbeat
  • Anorexia (crystal meth suppresses the appetite)
  • Blurry vision
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dry mouth and skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Twitching

This is the short list of what could happen if you take crystal meth. The truth is, no one knows for sure how they will react to taking the drug. Maybe you’ll feel little at all. Maybe you’ll feel everything all at once. Although there are crystal meth side effects to prepare for and be on the lookout for, it doesn’t mean everyone will experience taking drugs in the same way. It also doesn’t mean everyone will experience the side effects the same either.

You can’t depend on someone else’s experience to determine how you’ll feel after taking crystal meth. It can’t predict your body’s reaction. The listed side effects can only show you the possibility of what you might face and how tough it can be on you.

Defining Crystal Meth

What’s the difference between crystal meth and methamphetamine? Is there a difference? Technically speaking, crystal meth is a form of meth. It’s identifiable as a blue-ish, glass-like rocks and is commonly smoked. Meth can also be injected or ingested as well, but smoking crystal meth has become more of the widespread use.

The availability and affordability of cooking meth are some of the reasons why people turn to the drug. But ultimately, it’s about the high. Meth stimulates the same feelings of euphoria that other street drugs, like cocaine, have to offer, but without the cost associated with it.

You can buy ingredients to make meth right in your local drugstore or grocery store. While you may be flagged for buying too many of the ingredients at one time, it doesn’t mean that it’s not fairly simple to start a meth lab in your home, which many people do. This isn’t to advocate for meth labs or discuss them like they aren’t cause for alarm. But it’s not new knowledge for anyone who has used or made meth before.
Meth labs have been seized in basements, sheds, storage facilities, and anywhere else that has a secluded or more private environment. Not only are they illegal, but meth puts those in its immediate proximity in danger due to the chance of explosion. Even if that doesn’t happen, the mix of toxic chemicals can cause burns or poison from ingesting fumes or residue. This means that even if you never intend to use meth, it can still hurt you.

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How Does Crystal Meth Work?

Crystal meth works similar to other illicit drugs. Once taken, it’s directed straight to the brain and is responsible for the increase of dopamine, which is the “high” you experience from it. In technical terms, it’s a chemical response that’s happening in the brain when affected by drugs. That’s why people refer to it as being in an “altered state,” because that’s exactly what it is.

It’s still your brain and your body, but the drug makes you think and behave differently than you normally would. You most likely will experience a sudden burst of energy and turn into the life of the party when crystal meth has hit. The high can last for several hours. Who wouldn’t want to feel that? Who wouldn’t want to have a boost in confidence and pleasant feelings that come with taking drugs?

If you have taken crystal meth before, it’s not always like that. Or, if it is, it’s short-lived. Yes, the high of the drug will make you feel more attractive to other people, but after the drug-induced high comes the reality-hitting low. Your senses will be heightened in a way that makes you want to continue using the drug despite the drawbacks. You’ll want to get back to when things looked, tasted, smelled, and felt better. That’s how dependency begins.

How Does the Body Process Meth?

Drugs are processed in the body in different ways. Anything digested is going to differ from person to person. It depends on your metabolism and how well and fast your body functions to break it down. Methamphetamine has a half-life of 12 hours. The half-life is the time it takes for the drug to be reduced by one half.

Within 24 hours, the drug most likely has been processed through your body. It’s a pretty quick turnaround, which is why it’s easy to become addicted. Once the high passes, your body will immediately crave more.

But the way your body actually breaks down the drug will depend on a variety of factors. The first things to consider is your overall health. Prior to starting crystal meth use, were you healthy? Did you follow a good diet? Were you often dehydrated? Did you exercise regularly? These factors matter because a healthy body means your body is usually able to process things through much quicker.

Another factor to consider is how long you’ve been using meth. Some people have been using the drug for years, while others may be fairly new to it. If you’ve been using for a long time, it can take longer to rid the drug completely out of your system. But there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to addiction. No one is off limits. No one is safe from its clutches and no one can predict what will happen next by using. What you can do is change the cycle. You can put a stop to it once and for all.

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Long-Term Side Effects to Crystal Meth

Meth harms the body on both a short-term and long-term basis. It will change the way you look physically, the way you feel, and cause other health problems the longer you use it. One of the most widely associated side effects with long-term use of crystal meth is “meth mouth.”

What exactly is meth mouth and how does it happen? This condition can put you at risk for losing your teeth. For starters, many of the ingredients in meth are acidic and can break down the enamel of the teeth. Also, if you’re a crystal meth addict, clenching your teeth and dry mouth are common symptoms, which can cause wear and tear on your teeth as well. This may mean nothing to addicts since they’ll become used to their appearance, but for someone on the outside looking in, meth mouth is a huge symptom of addiction.

Chronic users should also be wary of psychological effects, such as hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive behavior that comes with meth dependence. This kind of behavior carries on into all aspects of your life and makes people sit up and take notice for all the wrong reasons.

Meth addiction puts all your relationships at risk. Not only relationships with your friends and family who are looking out for your health and best interest, but also, your colleagues who are counting on you to show up to work on time and get the job done. Unfortunately, once addicted, meth is “in charge” of time, productivity, and anything else that may have made you a hard worker, loyal friend, and close family member in the past. It can make you unrecognizable or a shell of the person you were once before.

It changes the way you behave and these relationships can be destroyed by your continued use of crystal meth. It may not mean anything at the time you’re looking for your next high, but addiction will leave you isolated at a time when you’ll need support the most. But as grim as addiction can be, there is always hope to counterbalance it.

You don’t have to live like that. You don’t have to cave into addiction. And, you can make a difference and turn your life around starting today. Meth addiction is not the end of the story for you. You just have to get to the next chapter.

Withdrawal Process of Crystal Meth

From the outside looking in, it can be hard to understand the power meth addiction has over a person. Between the cravings and the temptation, it can seem nearly impossible to quit. But not everything is as it seems. Is it difficult to become sober? Yes, it can be. Is the withdrawal process uncomfortable? Without a doubt. But both can and have been done.

With addiction, you’ll feel the cravings, but also physical side effects as well that can be both painful and uncomfortable. You may experience profuse sweating, nausea, shaking, anxiety, and depression. It may be hard for you to sleep or concentrate without getting your next fix.

The withdrawal process takes a lot out of you physically and mentally, as well. That’s why we recommend you not go through it alone. Having a support system readily available can help you push through any barriers and feel good about your accomplishments along the way.

By receiving treatment in a safe and secure place, you’ll have access to medical care and monitoring, which is especially important in the first few days of withdrawal. It’s the first steps that are often the hardest and it can take quite the toll on your body. A treatment facility can help make the process as comfortable for you as possible. Rather than face relapse, recovery treatment for crystal meth addiction can keep you moving forward to sobriety.

Available Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction

When you decide you want to become sober and treatment is the way to go, you have options. Where is it you want to be? Near your home? In nature? Or, just anywhere peaceful and quiet? There are facilities that can meet all of those needs.

If you think being closer to home and near your family is the most feasible option for you right now, an outpatient facility might work best. After the detox stage, you may be able to transition your treatment to be at home full-time. With outpatient care, you still have the same kind of medical, counseling, and education assistance as inpatient care, you just leave when you’re done. You don’t become a temporary resident as you do with inpatient care.

Outpatient care is an option that will require you to have an accountability partner. Because you get to leave after treatment, you need a reliable person who will help encourage you to continue day in and day out. With time, you may feel you can handle it on your own. But don’t consider it a setback, if you’d rather have someone that checks in on you. We all can benefit from that in our life with whatever goals we’re trying to reach. It’s what helps motivated and on track.

An inpatient treatment program is an option, if you’d like time away from your current environment and want to free yourself from the stress and temptation you may face. When going through withdrawal, it can make you feel vulnerable, which means you’re extra susceptible to negative influences. Having multiple people available to lean on for help and positivity is one of the biggest assets you can have during the recovery process.

With treatment of any kind, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about addiction. You’ll learn what leads to it, what triggers it, and how to overcome it. Treatment doesn’t remove the possibility of drugs in your life; it gives you tools and strength to figure out what to do if you cross paths with it again.

Addiction is a disease and recovery from it takes time. There are no quick solutions, but instead, meaningful changes that you will benefit from for a lifetime. Know there is a place for you to be cared for and receive all you need to achieve sobriety. Treatment at a facility with a meth addiction treatment program is your best option for a safe and supportive recovery.

If you are a loved one concerned about your family member remember to watch out for these key signs of meth use and be ready to reach out with support when needed.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine.Revised December 7,  2018. Accessed March 4, 2016.
  2. Macquarie Street. Ice, Speed & Other Methamphetamines. State Library of NSW, October 20, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  3. MedlinePlus. Methamphetamine. November 2018, Accessed March 5, 2016.
  4. NCBI. The Need for Speed: An Update on Methamphetamine Addiction. September 2006, Accessed February 3, 2018.


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