Meth can be injected. This is a very dangerous practice.
While certain practices, such as using new needles every time, can mitigate harm, there is no safe way to inject meth.
According to a 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey, about 667,000 American adults were considered to be current users of illicit methamphetamine or meth. About 684,000 people in the United States battled meth addiction in 2016.
Meth is a potent and powerful synthetic stimulant drug that does have some medicinal uses as an AHDH and obesity medication. Most meth use involves illicit meth created in a clandestine laboratory.
Meth is extremely addictive. It can be abused by snorting, smoking, swallowing, or injecting it.
When injected, the drug quickly enters the bloodstream for an intense and rapid-onset high.
Injecting meth can increase all the possible hazards of taking the drug, including the risk for a life-threatening overdose, emotional and physical complications, drug dependence, and addiction involving meth.
Injecting meth sends the drug into the system so fast that it can have unpredictable and unintended side effects that are difficult to control. There is no safe amount of illegal methamphetamine that can be injected for recreational use.
Meth and the Brain
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that meth interacts with dopamine levels in the brain, causing a spike in the levels of the naturally occurring neurotransmitter.
When meth enters the brain quickly through injection, dopamine levels are increased, which causes a surge of pleasure. Dopamine helps to regulate emotions and also helps to control movement abilities, sleep functions, and memory and thinking processes.
When you take meth, the following occurs:
- Blood pressure increases
- Heart rate can become irregular
- Body temperature increases
- You become alert and very awake
- Energy level increases
- Appetite decreases
- Breathing rate speeds up
Heavy meth use can cause twitching, tremors, itching, paranoia, irritability, aggression, agitation, violent outbursts, and unpredictable behaviors.
When meth wears off, the crash can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, trouble thinking straight, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. A meth high can come on quickly when the drug is injected, in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, and the drug’s effects may linger for a few hours.
Meth will wear off more rapidly when injected as opposed to other methods of intake, such as swallowing it. This can encourage a person to take more of it again in a binge pattern to avoid the comedown.
Regular use of meth can cause the brain to build up a tolerance to the drug. Higher doses will be needed for the same effects to manifest.
Repeated meth use can cause drug dependence, which means negative and difficult side effects and intense cravings after the drug wears off. Addiction can be a consequence of chronic and regular meth use, especially when the drug is injected.
Neurotoxicity of Meth
Long-term meth use can be toxic to the brain.
The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) publishes that the effects on levels of dopamine and serotonin caused by regular and heavy meth use can have a neurotoxic impact, damaging cells containing these chemical messengers. As published by Life Sciences, meth use can damage serotonin and dopamine nerve terminals.
The brain damage from meth may not be entirely reversible either. As a result of depleted dopamine, twitching, tremors, and seizures can occur, as can the onset of the movement disorder Parkinson’s disease. Learning and memory functions can be impaired as can coordination and emotional regulation. Brain damage related to meth use can cause cognitive decline. This may include difficulties thinking clearly, focusing, and remembering things, and it may resemble Alzheimer’s disease.
Insomnia, depression, anxiety, paranoia, unpredictable behaviors, intense mood swings, and compulsive behaviors like skin picking and itching may occur.
Psychotic behaviors, such as hallucinations, delusions, and homicidal or suicidal thoughts, are also related to meth’s interaction with the brain. The hallucinations from meth use can be both visual and auditory. They can lead to skin infections and sores from picking out perceived bugs under the skin.
Injecting meth raises the odds for brain damage with lasting impact.
Effects on the Body of Injecting Meth
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that high amounts of meth use can have the following adverse consequences:
- Cardiovascular collapse or heart attack
Meth is a stimulant drug, so it speeds up functions of the central nervous system, including respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Too much meth can overload the system and wreak havoc on the body.
Injecting meth puts it across the blood-brain barrier so fast that the hazards are amplified.
Long-term side effects of injecting meth can include the following:
- Collapsed veins
- Track marks or scarring at injection sites
- Increased rate of heart disease, infection of the lining of the heart, and cardiovascular complications
- Respiratory infections and raised rate of illness and disease
- Weakened immune system
- Skin infections
- The raised risk for contracting a blood-borne infectious disease like hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
Meth Additives and Purity
Meth is extremely unpredictable with varying degrees of potency and a high potential for various additives, which may be toxic.
The following are common additives used to cut meth:
- Ephedrine or other stimulants
- Other illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin, or fentanyl
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid drug that is showing up more and more in other illicit drugs, including meth. Fentanyl is deadly in very small amounts. As a depressant drug, the combination of meth and fentanyl can have kind of a push-and-pull effect that can become deadly very quickly.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) publishes that meth purity can be highly variable, ranging between 16 percent and 82 percent.
Meth can be unpredictable. It is hard to know exactly what is in the drug you are taking or how pure it is, and therefore how much it will affect you.
Hazards of Overdose From Meth Injection
Meth overdoses more than tripled from 2011 to 2016. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes that close to 7,000 Americans died from an overdose involving meth in 2016.
Meth is very potent, and injecting the drug can quickly cause the body and brain to become overwhelmed and lead to a possible life-threatening overdose.
A meth overdose is indicated by the following signs:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- High body temperature and sweating
- Irregular heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tremors or seizures
- Extreme confusion
“A meth overdose is a medical emergency, as it can cause stroke, heart attack, and death. ”
As an illicit drug, there is no safe amount of meth that can be taken. Injecting the drug only exacerbates and amplifies all of the possible risk factors and dangers associated with meth use.