When it comes to toxic side effects from drugs, methamphetamine takes the cake. Not only does it wreak havoc on internal organs, it has a variety of very obvious side effects on the surface as well. Crystal meth is an illicit street drug made from toxic chemicals, and many of its disabling effects are well-known. However, methamphetamine is also sold in prescription form to treat narcolepsy, blood pressure problems, and psychiatric conditions. It, too, has dangerous side effects. In this article, we will address the unwanted effects of this potent stimulant.
The mental effects of meth are as varied and complex as the mind. Agitation, delusions and hallucinations can occur at any time during use, and the degree to which they occur is unpredictable. Users can become abusive, depressed and have suicidal thoughts. Several studies have revealed a form of psychosis similar to Schizophrenia as a result of long-term meth use, even after use has stopped.
Effects on the Central Nervous System
Methamphetamine crosses the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly impact the central nervous system. This results in a number of unwanted side effects including:
- Twitching, twisting or uncontrolled repetitive movements of the tongue, lips, face, arms or legs
- Uncontrolled vocal outbursts and tics
- Trembling or shaking of the hands and feet
- Change in taste buds
- Bad, unusual or unpleasant taste
- Swelling of the feet or lower legs
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
Neurotoxicity—a condition in which toxins damage the tissue of the nerves—is a result of long-term use.
Effects of Meth on the Digestive System
The digestive tract is a crucial part of the body. If food is not digested properly, nutrients do not get absorbed and a number of other health problems can result. Meth has a number of negative impacts on the gastrointestinal system, including:
- Dry mouth
- Severe tooth decay
- Weight loss
Effects on the Heart and Lungs
Meth produces a number of effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems varying from uncomfortable to life-threatening. This includes:
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast, pounding or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- High blood pressure
- Sudden death
Effects on the Reproductive System
A number of unwanted side effects can occur on the reproductive system, both in women and men. This includes:
- Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- Inability to have or keep an erection
- Loss in sexual ability, desire, drive or performance
Other Side Effects
Meth affects a number of other organs of the body including the eyes, the skin and the sensory organs. Users may experience hives or welts all over the body. Users of crystal meth often pick at their skin, resulting in scarred, pock-marked skin. They may experience frequent skin rashes, blurred vision and hearing or taste difficulties.
A number of studies show that children administered methamphetamines (as in the case of those being treated for ADD) experience stunted growth and many of the side effects listed above.
Euphoria and addiction are also a result of methamphetamine use, whether it is medical or illicit. When it comes to crystal meth, addiction can occur immediately and is known to have an iron grip. The meth business portrayed in the award-winning series Breaking Bad is very real. The truth is, users will do anything for their next fix—and so dealers have a steady stream of regular customers.