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How Meth Affects the Body

Millions of people across the United States struggle with an addiction to crystal meth. Also known as speed, crank, or ice, meth is an incredibly addictive stimulant that affects your nervous system and can seriously damage your mind and body.

Unfortunately, meth users rarely realize the full effect the drug has on their bodies and lives until it’s too late. We go over exactly what meth does to the body, why it’s so addictive, and why quitting meth requires professional supervision and treatment.

The Short-Term Effects of Meth

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Meth affects your nervous system by triggering the release of large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, so the short-term effects of meth can include everything from euphoria and increased energy to sleeplessness and decreased appetite.

Due to the powerful effects of meth and the dopamine it releases, your body can quickly become addicted to it. Even after only a few uses, you may find it hard to function normally or feel well without using meth.

Once you become addicted to crystal meth, quitting can be incredibly challenging. Detoxing from the drug means you have to go through several uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth withdrawal can last for weeks and even months. The most common symptoms include:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle pain
  • Powerful cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Cognitive problems

All of these symptoms are a direct result of the effect of crystal meth on your body.

What Does Crystal Meth Do to Your Body?

Sad lonely depressed unhappy hopeless woman

Many of the chemicals used to make meth are corrosive and dangerous, making it impossible not to be damaged by them. From the smoke that eats away at the delicate layers of the eyes to the corrosion that settles on the teeth, literally eating away at the enamel, the effects of meth on the body are powerful and long-lasting.

We go over the main things meth does to your body below.


Man Has A Cloud Over His Head

Meth changes the structure and function of your brain. This can lead to psychosis and aggression, among other effects such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Unclear speech—switching between topics, mumbling, jumbling words, and repeating words or phrases
  • Hearing people talking to you when they’re not
  • Feeling sure people are out to get you or hurt you without any proof

The brain damage caused by meth can also lead to long-term effects like:

  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Mental health conditions


Young woman suffering from heart attack

Heart disease is one of the main causes of death among meth users. Some of the ways meth affects your heart and cardiovascular system are:

  • Constricted blood vessels leading to high blood pressure
  • Abnormal or rapid heart rate
  • Severe heart failure in young meth users
  • Severe and premature heart disease
  • Changes to the structure of your heart muscle
  • Heart attacks even years after you quit

Immune System

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Regularly using meth can damage your immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight off disease and infection. Long-term meth users are more susceptible to infections like:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Sexually transmitted diseases due to unprotected sex


Painful guy aching from pain in back or reins at home

Continuous meth use can cause kidney damage as the kidneys are responsible for breaking down the large amounts of damaging chemicals found in the drug.


Neglected Denture

One of the telltale signs of meth abuse is tooth decay. While blood vessels, skin, and muscles have the potential to heal, corroded teeth don’t grow back.

Known as meth mouth, the effects of meth on the teeth are a result of meth making your saliva glands dry out. Saliva is what keeps the acid that breaks down food from breaking down your teeth and gums.

Without saliva, the acids eat the enamel off the teeth, which are being ground down with every meth session. This causes teeth to become rotten, discolored, infected, and eventually even fall out.


a young girl with atopic dermatitis in the acute stage. redness and scratching up to blood on the body close-up.

People who use meth seem to age overnight. This is because the drug causes the blood vessels to constrict so much that the body has limited means of healing itself. This means your skin starts to dry out and heal much more slowly than before. The extreme weight loss associated with meth use also means your skin becomes loose, saggy, and wrinkled, only adding to your aged, sickly appearance.

Infections from the holes where you inject meth are also common and can lead to large, open sores that take very long to heal if they ever heal at all.

Contact Yellowstone Recovery for Help

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Addiction to a drug like meth is dangerous and all too common. The powerful short- and long-term effects of meth abuse make getting treatment early on crucial to a successful, rewarding recovery. Yellowstone Recovery specializes in helping people recover from meth and other drug addictions and begin their journey to lifelong sobriety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to meth or any other drug, reach out to Yellowstone Recovery today by calling (888) 418-4188 and get the treatment you deserve before it’s too late.

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