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Smoking Meth: Dangers to Know

Smoking meth quickly leads to addiction and severe health problems, including mood disturbances, dental decay, and increased overdose risk. It also poses serious risks during pregnancy and weakens the immune system, underscoring the need for effective treatment.

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Even when taken in small amounts, smoking meth can quickly lead to addiction and health problems that may be irreversible.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that exposes users to short-term and long-term health dangers. The dangers range in severity from increased energy to severe dental problems to fatal overdose. 

How Dangerous Is Smoking Meth?

Smoking meth is one of the quickest ways to feel the stimulant effects of methamphetamine. Nearly instantly, meth causes high amounts of dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with feelings of pleasure) to be released. The reaction teaches individuals to repeatedly smoke meth to experience the pleasurable sensations again. The cycle quickly leads to addiction. 

Smoking meth also impacts many essential functions of the body, including blood flow, body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. One bad reaction to meth can lead to overdose, which can cause permanent brain and organ damage and be fatal. 

Specific Dangers of Smoking Meth

Many dangers are associated with smoking meth. Individuals are likely to develop mental and physical health problems that may not be easily treatable. Dangers range from managing difficult emotions to contracting incurable diseases and death. 

These are some of the dangers of smoking meth:

Mood Disturbances

Disturbances in mood, including psychotic behavior, aggression, violent behavior, anxiety, and depression are risks of smoking meth. Individuals who experience these symptoms may act out of character, putting their safety at risk, and be at risk of suicide.

Meth Mouth

Meth mouth is a danger associated with long-term meth use. Repeated exposure to the toxic chemicals in meth can lead to cavities, severe tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. 

Black, stained, and rotten teeth are signs of meth mouth and are irreversible. Significant dental intervention is required to treat meth mouth, and drastically affected teeth must be removed. 

Smoking Meth During Pregnancy 

Smoking meth during pregnancy exposes both the mother and child to serious health risks. Premature delivery and placental abruption have been associated with meth use during pregnancy. Additionally, babies exposed to meth in utero have exhibited low birth weight, reduced movement, heart and brain abnormalities, delayed development, and attention and behavioral challenges as they grow up.

Sexually Transmitted Infections 

People under the influence of meth often exhibit risky sexual behavior. Unprotected sex exposes individuals to contracting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, which can also be contracted by sharing equipment, like needles. 

Immune System Issues

Chronic meth use reduces immune system strength and the body’s ability to fight infectious diseases as well as more common infections.  

Overdose 

Smoking meth can lead to overdose, which can be fatal if left untreated. 

Meth causes body temperature to rise, sometimes to dangerously high levels. Such overheating can cause stroke, heart attack, and a variety of organ problems that lead to death. 

How Smoking Meth Impacts the Mind & Body

Meth affects both the brain and the body, explains the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It affects systems that control behavior and emotion as well as physical aspects of the body. 

The range of effects caused by meth use include the following: 

  • Cravings and addiction
  • Tolerance and withdrawal 
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Delusion and paranoia
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Risk of heart attack and stroke 
  • Significant weight loss
  • Meth mouth, or severe dental problems
  • Skin sores due to scratching and picking at skin
  • Impaired movement 
  • Decreased motivation 
  • Aggressive and violent behavior 
  • Meth-induced psychosis
  • Overheating that leads to organ damage 

Many of the above effects of smoking meth are likely to go away when use is stopped. However, many effects are long-lasting and persist even when no longer smoking meth. 

Mental health issues caused by meth use and meth-induced psychosis may persist for months or years after someone stops using meth. Likewise, permanent brain damage and dental issues can result from smoking meth that can be treated but not reversed. 

Meth Addiction Treatment Options 

Meth addiction is hard to treat, but full recovery is possible. Behavioral interventions are the most effective treatment approach, explains the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are two such approaches. 

Through individual, group, and family therapy (when possible), individuals gain a better understanding of their reasons for smoking meth as well as their motivations to remain sober. With hard work and ongoing participation in these therapies, individuals can enjoy a life full of meaning and free from substance abuse.

Updated November 21, 2023
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