Methamphetamine, or “meth” for short, is one of the more addictive drugs on the street. While it does give users a rush of euphoria and perhaps hallucinogenic effects, the flip side is that it can also be very damaging to the user’s body, including the heart. This is especially true for those who use meth over and over.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that comes from a class called amphetamines. Legally, it can be used as a medicine to treat things like ADHD. Illegally, it is used to make crystal meth, a dangerous drug that looks like ice crystals. Meth is a very dangerous drug with many severe and possibly fatal side effects. Long-term use can cause problems with the heart, delirium, psychosis and many other health issues.
Crystal meth is made from ingredients that are readily available and then cooked in a series of steps. The ingredients in meth are all toxic to humans and capable of causing great physical harm on their own. Ingredients include acetone, ammonia, pseudoephedrine (common cold medicine), hydrochloric acid, lithium, brake fluid, lye, and sulfuric acid.
What Makes Meth So Addictive?
Meth is more powerful than cocaine. When using it, the meth forces the brain to release a large amount of dopamine and adrenaline. This combination results in a rush and then a high. The use of meth affects the brain’s limbic system. With use, the brain becomes so affected that the need for meth becomes reflexive rather than a conscious choice.
How Does Meth Affect Other Parts of the Body?
Meth abuse has a huge impact on almost every part of the human body. It can cause teeth problems, skin infections, and a weakened immune system. Meth abuse can cause you to have severe anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, and brain damage. Additionally, meth abuse takes a profound toll on heart health.
The Effects of Meth on the Heart and Heartbeat
Meth abuse can affect the heart in several ways. Since it is a stimulant, it can cause rapid heart rate, changes in blood pressure, strain on the heart, and even cause strokes. This can be fatal.
Meth use will affect your heartbeat every time you use it. It is critical to know that when you begin to abuse meth, it can cause you to have heart palpitations. These palpitations are caused when the heart rate races and causes the heart to enlarge and weaken. This cycle can seriously damage the heart.
Abusing meth can also lead to heart arrhythmias. These irregular heart rhythms will cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow. This, in turn, will lead to organ failure because the other parts of the body are not receiving an adequate amount of blood flow.
According to Kim D. Janda, a professor of chemistry at Scripps Research Institute, “Methamphetamine can cause a number of medical complications that haven’t been recognized before… Not only is it addictive, but it can cause a number of complications from cardiovascular to inflammation. It’s a real dirty drug.”
Scientists have discovered that meth abuse creates a chemical reaction between the amphetamine and sugar in the human body. Ultimately, this changes proteins in the body and causes inflammation and antibody responses. This inflammation is damaging to the heart, as the inflammation adds stress on the heart and contributes to heart damage.
How Meth Interferes With Your Blood Pressure
Since meth is a stimulant, it also greatly affects the blood pressure. It is common for meth abusers to have very high blood pressure. This is due to the constriction of blood vessels as the heart is enlarging and trying to pump blood through the circulatory system. This is a dangerous and damaging scenario.
This stress on the arteries can cause strokes, heart attacks, damaged arteries and, in some cases, ruptured aortas.
Meth and Your Heart Rate
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that a drug as potent as meth causes these destructive actions to occur within your body. In some cases, damage can be permanent, but your best bet is to stop meth use to potentially reverse some of the injuries you’ve sustained to your heart and other organs. Does meth raise blood pressure? The short answer is yes, but it can also affect your heart rate, causing it to work overdrive and lead to a rapid heartbeat. Rapid heart rate from meth is dangerous and a condition that can persist even after stopping use of the drug. Those under the influence will notice a higher meth heart rate.
As methamphetamine use soars across the United States and abroad, it’s vital to teach about the inherent dangers of use in an attempt to prevent some from ever trying the drug. Our heart is among the most critical organs in our body, and meth can severely damage it. Although our bodies are resilient, they may not be strong enough to fully recover from the damage this stimulant drug causes.
Think of your heart like an engine. When you’re driving down the road under normal conditions, it’s not working very hard. When you’re driving up a hill or exerting the engine, it must work harder. Unfortunately, your heart will always be at the “red line” and working hard because of meth and blood pressure, and an increased heart rate.
The increased meth heart rate can harm your body by putting you at a greater risk of a heart attack. Many individuals are under the impression that you can only die from a meth overdose when using the drug. However, heart failure cardiac arrest is secondary to overdosing. Cardiotoxic effects from meth include the narrowing of your blood vessels, increased blood pressure, and weakening of your heart muscle. All of this can result in heart attacks by causing a spasm of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. Medications used to treat the spasm cannot work properly if you’re using meth. Meth users are also more likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, which are risk factors for heart disease.
Underlying damage that meth causes is not seen in the earlier stages of meth addiction, especially in a person who’s young and healthy. However, as it worsens, it can be permanent and life-threatening. Methamphetamine increases the chances of sudden death from heart disease substantially, and those who use the drug will have lasting consequences if they don’t seek immediate intervention. Meth is an extremely dangerous drug and can lead to permanent disability.
Even if you’ve only started your meth journey, you aren’t immune to its cardiovascular effects. Even worse, you may not know what your body can or cannot tolerate. An inexperienced meth user is less familiar with a dose that can achieve the targeted effects without using too much and overdosing. For that reason, you should avoid meth at all costs. Even if a friend describes its effects and they sound pleasant, it’s extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
If you’re using meth with other drugs or alcohol, your odds of cardiotoxic effects increase dramatically. If you or someone you know has been using meth and complains of cardiovascular symptoms like palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath after meth use, they must seek immediate medical attention. It could be the first signs of a fatal heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.
Although meth is known for causing heart problems, you should pay attention to some other issues as well.
Other Adverse Effects of Meth Use
In addition to the strain on the heart and circulatory system, there are other serious side effects with meth abuse, such as dental issues. Meth users tend to lose teeth and have gum decay, a condition often referred to as “meth mouth.”
“It is also not uncommon for long-term meth abusers to develop psychosis and changes in brain function. They may also suffer from hallucinations or changes in cognitive skills. Meth abusers may also experience mood disturbances and aggressive and violent behavior. ”
Substance Abuse Treatment
With any addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step. However, with meth abuse, a detailed approach may be necessary to help overcome it. The reality is that meth is very addictive, and repeated use of it can change the structure of the brain. The brain may feel as if it will die without more of it, which can bring on hefty cravings. It is necessary to use a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation and recovery that professional addiction specialists can provide.
A current treatment approach that is considered comprehensive and successful is attending a residential treatment center that can treat the addiction in various ways. Addiction specialists can help you formulate a treatment plan that may include medicine to help curb withdrawal symptoms, cognitive and behavioral therapy, support groups, and more.
A treatment plan will often include treatment for you and your family. Meth addiction affects the entire family in one way or another, so offering family counseling can be helpful for getting back to life before addiction entered the picture. This kind of therapy can help everyone to cope with the effects of meth abuse.
You’ll also need to be evaluated thoroughly by a doctor. You’ll need to undergo a series of tests to see how your organs are functioning because meth abuse can damage them. A physician can see how you’re doing physically and treat what may need to be treated. They’ll also be able to help you nutrition-wise, offering suggestions on how you can build up your immune system.
When you enter treatment, you will go through a period of detox, perhaps up to a week or more. While in treatment, a physician will monitor your physical health during the withdrawal period.
Abstinence will be the only way for you to stay away from meth. This can be challenging, so remember to celebrate small milestones and keep yourself motivated and inspired. Surround yourself with people who will support you wholeheartedly in and out of treatment.
For those who have a severe meth addiction, attending a residential rehab is your best bet. This way, you have around-the-clock care from addiction specialists and a doctor to help you in getting through the toughest part of withdrawal and recovery. From there, you may opt to attend an outpatient program for continued treatment.
Meth addiction can happen very quickly and easily. This is because the drug is a powerful stimulant that can change the brain’s structure rapidly. Meth abuse can have devastating effects on one’s health long-term and cause severe and fatal heart conditions.
If you are struggling with meth addiction, please reach out for help today. Do not put this off any longer, as your life may depend on it. Our substance abuse professionals are ready and willing to help you break free from this addiction. Give us a call at 855-534-3574, and let us discuss with you your best option for treatment. We care, and we’d love to help you get your life back.