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Physical Side Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

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Medically reviewed: 07/02/2018
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Crystal meth destroys the body very quickly and can lead to many serious physical health problems. There will be both physical and behavioral signs of crystal meth addiction. If you suspect someone is abusing crystal meth, pay attention to physical signs of drug use.

Here are common physical crystal meth effects:

1. Faster Breathing and Heart Rate

Crystal meth effects speed up the central nervous system to cause faster breathing and heart rate. In addition to being faster, the heart rate may also be erratic and irregular. A fast or irregular heart rate is known as arrhythmia, which can lead to complications including heart failure, cardiac arrest, stroke, and dementia when left untreated.

2. High Body Temperature

Crystal meth affects the body’s metabolism and heat-regulating mechanisms. This can cause high body temperature or hyperthermia. This results range of unpleasant symptoms including nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, and delirium. Hyperthermia can often be life-threatening and lead to death in meth users.

3. Meth Mouth

Crystal meth use and addiction can lead to “meth mouth” — an oral condition characterized by dry mouth, teeth grinding, and severe deterioration of the teeth and gums. Dry mouth can cause bacteria to build up on teeth and gums to contribute to plaque, gingivitis, and gum disease.

4. Skin Damage

Crystal meth users develop acne and large, open, red sores as a result of picking at their skin. Crystal meth effects can make people feel as though bugs are crawling beneath their skin. Scratching at their skin’s surface relieves itching and related sensations.

5. Digestive Problems and Diarrhea

The toxins in crystal meth can alter the body’s levels of neurotransmitters that play a role in digestive health. Since crystal meth is a toxic poison, the body will often try to eliminate crystal meth from the system as quickly as possible. This results in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

6. Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

Crystal meth increases adrenaline, while speeding up the central nervous system. Due to this change, users experience a loss of appetite and overall weight. Many binge crystal meth users can go for long periods without eating food. This can result in the user facing malnutrition and dehydration. Both of which are risk factors for serious complications including organ failure and death.

7. Overdose

People who overdose on crystal meth can suffer a range of life-threatening health consequences including death. If you suspect that someone is suffering a crystal meth overdose, call emergency services immediately.

Here are the signs of a crystal meth overdose:

  • Irregular or rapid breathing
  • Irregular or rapid heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic behavior

Crystal meth overdose can often lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and death.

Seeking professional addiction treatment can reduce your risk for a deadly overdose. Get the help you need to experience a safe, successful recovery from crystal meth addiction.

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