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Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant also called meth, crystal meth, and speed, and the effects of meth are both short-lived and potentially dangerous.

What are the effects of meth, then?

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The effects of methamphetamine are mainly triggered by the way the drug causes dopamine production in the brain to increase. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) informally known as a feel-good chemical for its association with pleasurable feelings. 

When you consume meth by any route of delivery, your system is flooded with an intense feeling of euphoria, and you will feel more energetic. Taking meth also boosts self-confidence. 

Although the effects of meth are powerful, they are also fleeting. Just a few hours after taking crystal meth, your body and mind will experience a crash with energy levels dropping. 

Meth also has a strong potential for abuse and addiction. The long-term use of meth can lead to serious psychological and physical complications. Chronic meth abuse can be fatal. 

What are the side effects of meth, more specifically? 

Side Effects of Meth

The effects of using meth include: 

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy levels
  • Alertness
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Decreased appetite

Using meth carries significant health risks, including drug toxicity and meth overdose. 

In addition to the common meth side effects above, some users experience adverse side effects like irregular heartbeat and hyperthermia (increased body temperature).

 Mixing meth with other substances can introduce further risks. If you use meth while drinking alcohol, meth can mask some of the intoxicating effects of alcohol, potentially leading to a heightened risk of alcohol poisoning. 

What are the short term effects of meth, then? 

Short Term Effects of Meth

Here are some of the most common short-term physical side effects of meth: 

  • Unusual behaviors
  • Violent behavior
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Extreme irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Long periods without sleep
  • Increased blood pressure levels
  • Raised body temperature
  • Panic
  • Psychosis

What are the long term effects of meth? Well, here is where things get more damaging and more dangerous.

Long Term Effects of Meth

This is a snapshot of some of the most common long term side effects of meth: 

  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Erratic behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Meth mouth (serious dental problems)
  • Memory loss
  • Scars and sores on skin
  • Impaired brain function
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Of the above long-term effects of meth abuse, the following are among the most damaging: 

  1. Meth mouth
  2. Cardiovascular damage
  3. Structural brain changes
  4. Skin complaints
An image of a man dealing with the effects of meth, both long-term and short-term

1) Meth mouth

Meth mouth is perhaps the most publicized negative outcome of sustained methamphetamine abuse. Meth mouth stems from severe dental issues, often triggered by poor nutrition combined with poor dental hygiene. 

Over time, the abuse of meth can lead to the development of dry mouth, a condition known as xerostomia. Meth abuse can also cause bruxism (teeth grinding). 

According to one study, 31% of meth users reported at least six missing teeth, 58% reported untreated tooth decay, and 96% reported cavities.

2) Cardiovascular damage

Abusing meth long-term can cause the following heart-related issues: 

  • High blood pressure levels
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Enlarged heart muscle
  • Rapid heart rate

Abusing meth can also exacerbate existing cardiac disorders, leading to a heightened risk of sudden cardiac death and myocardial infarction. 

The long-term abuse of methamphetamine also increases the chance of cardiovascular damage. 

3) Structural brain changes

Chronic meth abuse causes changes to the structures of the brain responsible for decision-making, according to this study. Additionally, using meth long-term causes structural and functional changes in areas of your brain associated with memory and emotion. These changes are a central component of meth addiction, clinically known as stimulant use disorder. 

Some meth-induced damage is irreversible, but research suggests some of the long-term effects of meth can be reversed after abstaining from meth use for a year or more.

4) Skin complaints

Many long-term users of methamphetamine develop acne and other skin issues. This occurs as meth inhibits the ability of your body to repair itself. Skin becomes less lustrous and less elastic. 

Formication is a condition characterized by the sensation of insects crawling beneath the skin and often prompts picking and scratching of the skin. In some cases, this can cause permanent skin damage.

How Long Do the Effects of Meth Last?

Meth has a long half-life of between 9 hours and 24 hours. This means it takes that length of time for blood concentration levels of methamphetamine to halve. It takes from 5 to 7 half-lives for a drug to leave the body completely. 

Most urine tests will detect meth for up to 72 hours after the last use. 

Since meth metabolizes to amphetamine, drug screens will typically show both substances in the event of meth use being detected. 

In those who have used meth heavily and long-term, the substance may be detectable in urine for as long as a week. 

Meth can be detected by a hair follicle test for up to 90 days after the last use.

california beach representing heroin detox at california detox center.

Meth Addiction Treatment at California Detox

Unlike treatment for alcohol use disorder or opioid use disorder, there are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of meth addiction. This is no barrier to engaging with treatment that can promote lasting sobriety and the opportunity to recover from the adverse effects of meth. 

Several forms of behavioral intervention can help you to conquer meth addiction, including contingency management and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy): 

  • Contingency management: Contingency management is a type of behavioral therapy that uses small rewards to incentivize healthy behaviors – passing a drug screen, for instance. Meth addiction can damage the reward center in your brain. Contingency management can help to start repairing that damage as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy): Through CBT sessions, you will identify what triggers you to use meth and you will also create healthy coping strategies to help you deal with stress in everyday life without relapsing.

We have treatment programs for meth addiction at all levels of intensity at California Detox. Whether you need inpatient, outpatient, or remote rehab, we can help you here at our beachside facility. 

To kickstart your recovery and to fight back against meth addiction, call admissions today at 949.567.8790 for immediate assistance.


Snorting meth specifically can lead to a number of problems and issues related to the deterioration of the septum and nasal cavity.
Meth causes a number of cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure, narrow blood vessels, weakening of the heart muscle, and more.


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