Meth Abuse: Your Ultimate Guide to Meth Abuse, Overdose … and Treatment
13 January, 2023
According to the United Nations, methamphetamine or meth is the most commonly abused drug. Approximately 2.6 million people are currently addicted to it in the US alone, and the numbers are rising. With new users, the death toll is also rising due to delayed identification of meth abuse symptoms and improper treatment. This is why meth is one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse.
Let’s find out how dangerous meth abuse is, what meth overdose results in, and the treatment methods.
What is Meth Overdose?
Meth is an illicit variant of a treatment drug named amphetamine, which doctors prescribe mainly for treating patients suffering from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Using illicit drugs or using prescribed drugs in excessive amounts is termed drug abuse. With increased doses, the body gets habituated to the drug concentration in the body and begins to crave more. So, the dosage starts to increase, causing an overdose due to prolonged use.
Methamphetamine overdose can also occur in inexperienced individuals who are first-time users and do not know how much drug concentration can become fatal. In such situations, the dosage of meth becomes concerning to such an extent that the body moves into the fatal stages of a drug overdose.
What are the Symptoms of Meth Overdose?
Meth abuse is associated with certain recognizable symptoms. Upon prolonged usage, the symptoms become prominent in a user and when identified, an abuser must be immediately admitted to a drug treatment center for a timely recovery.
One should contact professional treatment providers if the following symptoms show up:
Signs of heart attack
A rise in body temperature
Loss of consciousness
Feeling of suffocation
Intense pain in the stomach
Apart from these aforementioned symptoms, meth overdose affects the organs of a drug abuser’s body. Let us look in detail at the effects of meth abuse on an individual’s organs.
What are the Effects of Meth Abuse on One’s Body?
Consistent meth abuse in ever-increasing doses is fatal for an individual. Let's look at what it does to the body.
Meth overdose heavily affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for functions related to abstract thinking, planning, judgment, etc. It also kills glial cells in the brain. These cells help to fight infections, maintain signaling activities, and develop myelin which is essential for intra-nervous communication.
The increased blood pressure due to meth overdose damages the capillaries, arteries, and veins in the central nervous system. Chances of breaking a vein or artery make an individual prone to hemorrhagic strokes.
The use of meth increases glutamate activity in the brain, which causes heavy damage to the entire central nervous system. Thus, meth abuse reduces one's ability to function as a healthy human being. The organs affected by meth overdose are mentioned under.
Meth abuse severely affects the heart by narrowing the blood vessels, damaging the heart muscles, and plaque deposition in the arteries. Conditions like aortic dissection, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, ventricular fibrillation, etc. are common for a meth user.
Meth overdose adds cholesterol deposits to the inner linings of blood vessels, causing them to become narrow. This further restricts blood flow to the heart. It also makes the vessels rigid and causes spasms. The strain created in the vessels can lead to aortic dissection.
Overdose of meth also causes one's heart muscles to start to thicken under such stress. The thickness of heart muscles reduces the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body, which leads to diseases like heart failure and heart attack.
Kidneys are severely affected by the uncontrolled use of meth.
A strained heart, meth toxicity in the blood, and trauma deteriorate muscles all over the body. It can lead to the breakdown of muscle cells that release an abnormal amount of myoglobin into the blood. This excessive work of removing myoglobin from the blood can cause kidney failure.
Other than rhabdomyolysis, meth overdose damages kidneys by reducing blood flow and by causing micro-injuries to the nephrons.
Apart from harming and suppressing killer T-cells, meth overdose hampers the activities of adaptive B-cells. Thereby, it reduces the adaptive immunity of an individual. Furthermore, an individual's immune system is closely related to the central nervous system.
The functions of our brain and immune system are correlated, and when one or either gets damaged, the body faces cognitive decline, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and so on. Primarily, meth causes declined immune response towards various pathogens like bacteria and viruses, making the body prone to various diseases.
One of the primary effects of meth on one's oral health is that it makes the oral cavity dry. Lack of saliva means that the chemical balance inside one's mouth is lost, and there is nothing to prevent the acids from eroding the enamel of the teeth. Hence, teeth rot, bleeding gums and cavities start to occur.
The process of tooth rot is further hastened by the harmful chemicals synthesized due to meth overdose. Additionally, the stress, increased heart rate, and hyperactivity make individuals clench their teeth. This clenching or grinding action results in teeth cracks and breaks.
Meth overdose can create tactile hallucinations. In such a situation one’s skin feels itchy like insects crawling on their skin. These sensations do not need to have physical stimulation.
Under these circumstances, individuals scratch and pick at their skin vigorously to get rid of imaginary bugs. This results in open sores and infections. Toxic components of meth are also excreted in the form of sweat and damage the skin. This makes the skin more vulnerable to further infections.
Ultimately, one can say that meth overdose affects every part of the body. To prevent this from happening, one must identify meth abuse at the earliest stage possible.
How to Recognize Meth Overdose for Yourself and Others
One has to remember that meth abuse or overdose can start in numerous ways. The environment can play a crucial role and so can one’s genetic lineage. In cases of teen meth overdose, it is the sole responsibility of the family to identify the symptoms of overdose quickly and take necessary remedial measures toward comprehensive care and treatment.
Here are a few pointers on the symptoms to identify meth abuse in a family member.
An unusual decline in academic performance and regular work
Changes in behavior, secretiveness, sudden mood swings, etc
Sudden weight change.
Repeated requests for money and financial crisis
Decreased interest in hygiene and grooming.
Additionally, individuals must also identify symptoms of a meth overdose in themselves and control urges for increased usage. Here’s how.
Control strong urges of increasing meth concentration.
Reduce prolonged and/or routine usage of the drug.
Control urges to increase the frequency of intake.
Visiting a rehab center when one starts to identify withdrawal effects.
Once one identifies the meth overdose symptoms, he/she must accept the abuse and find remedial measures accordingly. One may have to prepare a lot before breaking the news to their loved ones or sometimes to themselves. At that moment, it might not seem like it, but proper and immediate care can prevent the abuse from progressing to fatal stages.
Furthermore, to reduce and eventually stop meth abuse, it is necessary to identify triggers and to know the ways to avoid triggers of a meth overdose.
How to Avoid the Triggers of Meth Overdose
Triggers of drug abuse and overdose vary from one individual to another. However, certain triggers are common across all communities. If one can handle these situations with care, avoiding meth overdose can become easier.
Now, let’s look at some triggers and the possible ways to avoid them:
Triggers: Excessive stress can cause people to suffer from deteriorated mental and physical health conditions. Stressful scenarios also can urge one to meth abuse and overdose.
Ways to avoid: First, one should seek help from professional treatment providers to assess the situation. Second, one should take action and learn to handle stressful situations by engaging in activities like exercising, dancing, healthy eating etc. that increases the level of dopamine.
Dopamine is the happy hormone and helps to reduce stress in our bodies.
Negative emotions (HALT)
Triggers: When one is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT), one becomes susceptible to a drug overdose. These emotions can also hinder one's stress-handling abilities.
Ways to avoid: One can try relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, or a method that works for reducing negative emotions. With consistent effort, it becomes easier to manage these emotions and turn negative thoughts into something positive.
Times of Celebration
Triggers: Times of celebration can also lead to triggers. It can bring people together who are closely related to meth abuse. It can also bring up memories of meth abuse on its own. Furthermore, it is common and almost unavoidable that one might encounter someone who is smoking or drinking during the time of celebration.
Ways to avoid: Avoiding risks of meth overdose or relapse in such times is very difficult. One should not take sole responsibility for handling the situation and ask for external support. The needed help might come from a caregiver or their concerned rehab center.
If someone is recovering from a meth overdose and they are trying to do that alone, it can be very difficult to avoid the triggers and to handle meth withdrawal symptoms or possible relapses. A relapse of drug abuse during recovery can cause extended periods of suffering and permanent damage.
So, it is wise and safe to seek professional drug rehab help for meth abuse prevention.
What are the Treatment Methods for Meth Overdose?
Meth overdose and toxicity can cause fatal consequences. An individual admitted to a rehab center or an emergency care facility is often provided the following treatments.
Diagnosis and Detox of Meth Abuse
A patient is primarily diagnosed by performing certain tests, followed by withdrawal treatment. The tests conducted to identify the drug which was abused and severity factors are as follows.
Blood and urine test
Medications to ease pain and stabilize
After the situation is stabilized, the treatment for meth abuse will continue with medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
What is Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Rehab for drug overdose not only consists of counseling and getting over the withdrawal phase. Without the help of proper medication in the right dosage, the process can become unpleasant for a patient, thus making rehab counterintuitive. The incorporation of medication is very crucial for one's smooth recovery.
MAT can help to remove the toxic effects of meth overdose and replace them with the beneficial effects of the medicines. It will aim to handle withdrawal symptoms and decrease meth cravings.
For example, they can use buprenorphine to subdue withdrawal symptoms and naltrexone to fend off cravings.
Additionally, a state-of-the-art meth abuse treatment center would combine several treatment methods to produce the best results. Here is a list of them:
A combination of these modalities is applied over five phases of treatment. The phases are:
Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
Meth overdose is a fatal condition, but it is treatable. One should not let the social stigma hold them back because a complete recovery and an independent life are better than a life of denial and misery.
Get the Right Help for Meth Abuse at The Edge Treatment Center
The Edge Treatment Center is here to help you and your loved one on the path of recovery. We believe in the power of fulfilling relationships, and at our center, we aim to provide patient-centric care and experience to each of our patients.
Our group therapies, educational sessions, and adventurous activities are tailored to suit individual recovery needs. Meth overdose can affect everyone close to the patient and damage lives and relationships. You can stop the vicious circle today. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and learn more about our treatment plans for meth abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can meth overdose cause lactic acidosis?
Patients after smoking meth may face severe acidosis that may require immediate medical assistance.
How does meth overdose affect one mentally?
Meth overdose and mental health are very closely related. It can cause multiple mental disorders like insomnia, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc.
How can counseling for meth overdose help?
Counseling focused on treating meth overdose patients primarily aims to treat prevalent or post-meth-abuse mental disorders and Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
How long does it take to recover from a meth overdose?
There is no specific time period for recovery. It depends on factors like proper treatment, individual cooperation, history of drug abuse, and unique physical condition and needs.
How many people from the US pay emergency visits due to meth abuse?
In 2011 alone, there were over 150,000 people who got admitted to emergency treatment facilities due to meth overdose.