Methamphetamine is a drug that’s fairly unique, and we hear about it in pop culture along with things like meth labs, tweaking, and meth mouth. “The Faces of Meth” is a widely-recognized campaign against the drug, and there’s no doubt of the harm it can visibly cause. The long term effects of meth use are varied, so here’s a look at some of the most serious ones.
Long Term Effects of Meth on the Body
Long term use of meth does a lot of damage to the body, both inside and out. The physical appearance of a long term meth user is shocking and usually more extreme than users of other drugs. Constricted blood vessels lead to a user’s skin appearing aged, because it loses its healthy glow and its elasticity. The damage to blood vessels and tissue also makes it more difficult for the body to repair damage, such as sores, which are common to meth users.
Meth users often experience damage to their teeth and gums. As their saliva dries up, it allows acid in the mouth to eat away at teeth and cause cavities. Without proper dental care, meth users often lose teeth. Grinding of teeth while high can also contribute to damage.
The damage to the blood vessels and high blood pressure that meth causes also affects the heart and brain, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke. Meth also damages the kidneys, liver, and lungs, and it can cause vision loss.
Long Term Effects of Meth on the Brain
Meth affects the brain specifically in the dopamine and serotonin systems, which are the “pleasure centers.” This damage can take more than a year to reverse, or it can be permanent. This will cause meth users to feel depressed, anxious, and irritable. They may experience mood swings, hallucinations, insomnia, the desire to self-harm, and psychosis, which are difficult to treat. It can also cause memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Meth users’ critical thinking and reasoning skills may be impaired.
The brain damage caused by meth also increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease, and the damage is similar to that caused by strokes, seizures, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Other Long Term Effects of Meth
When someone uses meth for a long period of time, they are at risk of becoming addicted. Addiction brings many other long term consequences, such as hurt relationships, financial security, and trouble with the law or in the workplace. When meth users become addicted and desperate for the next high, they may act violently or become suicidal.
Another risk of long term meth use is an increased tolerance. A user will need more meth to experience the same high, which will result in even more severe physical and emotional effects, and their risk of death is increased.
Other risks include indirect consequences of meth use. Because meth increases libido and lowers inhibitions, meth users could contract STDs or get other serious injuries. Meth also suppresses the appetite, so many users experience unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition.