There are a number of psychological side effects associated with the use of crystal meth, including memory loss, anxiety, aggression and paranoia, but the physical deterioration of the body present in crystal meth users is far and away the most devastating consequence of the drug. With repeated use, crystal meth exacts a terrifying toll on both the mind and body, robbing users of their cognitive abilities and physical health, and subjecting them to drastic changes in their mental health and physical appearance. While crystal meth has become a popular choice among illicit drug users today, largely because of the powerful feeling of euphoria it generates, the physical consequences of meth use alone should be enough to deter anyone from trying the drug.
Meth’s Impact on the Brain
There [are] a whole variety of reasons to try methamphetamine, says Dr. Richard Rawson, associate director of UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs. However, once they take the drug…their reasons are pretty much the same: They like how it affects their brain[s].î During early meth use, the drug releases a surge of the chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that controls pleasure, which results in an intense rush of pleasure followed by a euphoric high that can last between six and 12 hours.
Unfortunately, over time, meth abuse can actually change brain chemistry, destroying dopamine receptors and rendering the user unable to experience any feelings of pleasure at all.
Effect of Meth Use on Appearance
In addition to adverse effects on the brain, long-term crystal meth abuse is also associated with a drastic change in physical appearance, due to the drug’s tendency to destroy tissues and blood vessels, thereby hampering the body’s ability to repair itself. Some of the most common physical effects of crystal meth use include the sudden appearance of acne, the skin losing its luster and elasticity, and sores taking longer to heal, all of which make the user appear years or even decades older than they really are. Crystal meth use is also associated with tooth grinding and poor diet and oral hygiene, which often results in severe tooth decay and loss ñ often referred to as meth mouth.
Long-Term Consequences of Meth Use
In short, while crystal meth can make users feel more attractive, confident and desirable in the beginning stages of use, the drug actually works against them in the long run. Some people I have in here over a hundred times, and I can look over a 10, 15, 20-year period and see how they’ve deteriorated, how they’ve changed, says Deputy Brett King of Oregon’s Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department. Some were quite attractive when they began to come to jail: young people who were full of health and had everything going for them…and now they’re a shell of what they once were. Some other long-term consequences of crystal meth abuse include increased heart rate, liver damage, convulsions, brain damage, stroke and death.