Drug and Alcohol

What Does a Methamphetamine Overdose Look Like?

Whether you've witnessed a methamphetamine overdose or experienced one yourself, help is available. Meth addiction is treatable.

What Does a Methamphetamine Overdose Look Like?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 7, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug developed in the early 20th century. While it is closely related to amphetamine, methamphetamine has more significant effects on the central nervous system. Methamphetamine was previously used for nasal decongestants.

Today, the drug can be prescribed in low doses for patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has been classified as a Schedule 2 stimulant, which means physicians are legally allowed to prescribe non-refillable prescriptions of methamphetamines to their patients. 

Since methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant, it helps patients with ADHD because it increases their attention and decreases restlessness. It is used as a piece of a comprehensive treatment approach for ADHD that also involves social, educational, and psychological treatments. However, when this substance is misused, it can cause consequences such as an overdose. 

Other common names for methamphetamines include: 

  • Meth 

  • Speed 

  • Ice 

  • Bikers Coffee 

  • Crystal 

What Are the Different Forms of Methamphetamine? 

This substance comes in many different forms, including powder, crystal, and rock. The powder is white and odorless. This specific form takes about three to five minutes for the human body to feel any effects.

The crystal form (aka “crystal meth”) is pure and is smoked. Smoking methamphetamine causes an immediate effect on the human body. This is because it enters the bloodstream almost instantly.

Lastly, the rock form commonly comes in large chunks and is yellow. This form is ingested orally, the same way one would use a pill. 

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction 

Unfortunately, most people will not realize the extent of their addiction to methamphetamine until it's too late. Since this specific drug is highly addictive, the line is very thin between abuse and full-on dependency. 

Physical signs of methamphetamine addiction include: 

  • A frail body 

  • Acne and sores 

  • Rotted teeth ("meth mouth")

  • Convulsions 

  • Liver damage 

  • Stroke 

  • Intense scratching 

There are also quite a few different psychological symptoms of meth addiction. When meth is used, there is an immediate feeling of euphoria because the drug increases dopamine levels in the brain.

Dopamine is the messenger for the reward system in the brain, which is why methamphetamines are so addictive. Ongoing meth abuse causes a flood of dopamine in the brain, which can change the way the brain works.

What Causes Meth Overdose and What Does It Look Like? 

A person can overdose on a drug regardless of whether the individual intends to use such a quantity of the drug or not and whether it's prescribed or not. If an individual has taken too much of a drug and their body can't handle it, they will overdose.

When this happens, one starts to experience the drug's adverse side effects as it reacts with the body. 

Signs and symptoms of a meth overdose include: 

  • Chest pain 

  • Difficulty breathing 

  • Agitation 

  • Hallucinations

  • Seizures 

  • Hypothermia 

Professional addiction treatment should immediately follow medical treatment for a methamphetamine overdose because an overdose is a substantial sign that one has a drug problem. 

Treatment for Methamphetamine Overdose and Addiction

One of the first treatments that medical professionals will provide is giving the patient oral-activated charcoal, which works to decontaminate the body of the drug since it is poison. Next, the patient will be given fluids to reduce nausea or high blood pressure. Then the physicians will access and prescribe any needed medications for side effects of meth abuse. 

Benzodiazepine treatment can also help some patients with a history of methamphetamine addiction. This is because benzos are a depressant and can work to calm and relax the individual. The physicians will mainly use lorazepam, midazolam, and diazepam.

It’s worth mentioning benzodiazepine use has risks of its own, however. Undergoing treatment for methamphetamine addiction at a professional treatment center ensures benzodiazepine use will be done safely.

Professional help is one of the easier and most successful long-term treatments for methamphetamine addiction, specifically in drug rehab and detox facilities. The detox facility will help with the overall meth withdrawal process, while rehab helps with providing a sense of community and overall positive life-changing help. 

The Withdrawal Process 

The signs and symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include: 

  • Excessive sleepiness and feelings of fatigue 

  • Increased appetite 

  • Dry mouth 

  • Jitteriness 

  • Depression 

  • Extreme cravings 

  • Psychosis and hallucinations 

Depression and hopelessness are the most common emotional symptoms of withdrawal from methamphetamine. However, research shows that these feelings decline throughout the course of the withdrawal process. 

The withdrawal timeline includes the following three stages:

  • Withdrawal begins within the first 24 hours of no longer taking the drug. 

  • It reaches its peak within seven to 10 days after that first 24 hours. Following the peak, there is then a steady decline in withdrawal symptoms. 

  • It has an average length of about 14-20 days, and the 14th is usually when symptoms and cravings begin to cease completely. 

Steps Following Withdrawal Period  

After getting medical and professional help during the withdrawal process, the most crucial step is taking advantage of further treatment and finding a community of support to set you on a path of life-long recovery. Here at The Edge Treatment Center, we offer drug and alcohol rehab, including for methamphetamine addiction. Among other services, we provide group activities such as kayaking, skateboarding, and beach parties, which can help you find a sense of purpose and meet like-minded people and lifelong friends. 

Don’t Risk an Overdose. Get Help for Meth Addiction Today

Experiencing an overdose can be extremely difficult and scary, whether you're witnessing it or the one going through it. However, it is essential to understand you are not alone, and recovery is possible.

Many factors play a role in a successful recovery, such as self-determination, community, and your environment. At The Edge Treatment Center, you will have access to an amazing community and environment. We believe we are active teammates in the recovery process, so you are never alone. If you or a loved one needs help, don't hesitate to contact us today.

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