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Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that is highly powerful and addictive. Amphetamines can be safely prescribed by doctors to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Methamphetamine, however, is manufactured illegally, involving dangerous chemicals, and has no medical significance. Individuals who use this drug put themselves at risk of many detrimental physical, mental, and spiritual effects. They can also suffer uncomfortable psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms if they develop a tolerance to the substance. It is a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high abuse potential that can lead to physical dependence.  

One popular illicit form of methamphetamine is referred to as crystal meth. This is a colorless, odorless form of methamphetamine that commonly resembles shards of glass or crystals. This form of methamphetamine can be crushed and snorted, smoked, or dissolved in a solution and injected. 

How Methamphetamine Works 

As mentioned above, methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. This means that the chemicals in methamphetamine drastically increase the production of dopamine in the brain. When an individual consumes methamphetamine, the effects of the drug will begin very quickly, but also fade quickly as well. This pattern contributes to the “binge and crash” behavior associated with methamphetamine use. Because methamphetamine causes a rapid increase in dopamine, an individual’s brain will quickly begin reinforcing this behavior. 

Short-Term Effects of Meth

The rapid increase of dopamine in an individual’s brain will cause them to experience feelings of euphoria. Along with this feeling of pleasure and satisfaction will come excitability that will show itself in different areas of the body. Users will begin to feel powerful and as though there are no consequences for their actions. These effects can begin within minutes of use and can continue for up to 12 hours. 

Short-term effects of methamphetamine use include: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Compulsive skin picking
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia 
  • Tremors 

Methods of Use 

People can use methamphetamine through various methods that can have different adverse effects on the body. These include: 

  • Smoking: By smoking methamphetamine, individuals put their mouths at risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals. These chemicals can begin to quickly erode tooth enamel, causing teeth to rot and gums to become infected and bleed. 
  • Snorting: Snorting methamphetamine in powder form will cause significant damage to the nasal passage with irritation, severe sores, and loss of smell. 
  • Injecting: Injecting methamphetamine that has been dissolved in water or alcohol will cause damage to an individual’s veins. Injecting drugs is dangerous and can cause death if done improperly. It also increases the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis B or C. A study titled, “Additive effects of HIV and chronic methamphetamine use on brain metabolite abnormalities,” published in the American Journal of Psychology, has indicated that methamphetamine use can progress the effects of HIV as well. 

Meth Overdose 

An overdose will occur when an individual doses too much of a substance for their body to handle. This drug reaction can become deadly if not properly treated by medical professionals. Overdose is a permanent outcome for a temporary feeling of euphoria, and the risk should not be taken lightly. 

The risk of overdose is present whenever an individual uses methamphetamine. Because this drug is manufactured and distributed illegally, it is almost impossible to be completely sure of its composition and potency. If an individual or their loved one struggles with methamphetamine use, becoming aware of the signs of an overdose could save a life. 

Signs of meth overdose include: 

  • Chest pain 
  • Hypertension 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Agitation 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat 
  • Seizures 
  • Hyperthermia 

If an individual even appears to be suffering from a meth overdose, it is very important that someone calls 911 right away. Emergency service professionals are trained to stabilize their patients and detoxify their bodies in these circumstances. 

Long-Term Effects of Amphetamines

The most serious long-term effect of methamphetamine use is addiction. When someone repeatedly uses methamphetamines until they notice they are no longer feeling the effects unless they begin to take more of the substance, they have developed a toleranceIf they continue to use methamphetamine, they will notice they experience uncomfortable symptoms if they attempt to stop using. For this reason, they will find it incredibly difficult to discontinue use even when it is negatively affecting their mind, body, relationships, and even their finances. 

The long-term effects of continued methamphetamine use include: 

  • Extreme weight loss 
  • Severe dental problems 
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 
  • Changes in brain structure 
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems 
  • Violent behavior 
  • Hallucinations 

Changes in Brain Structure 

Continued methamphetamine use can cause changes in an individual’s brain function from repeated increases in dopamine production. This can cause changes in coordination, emotion, memory, and verbal learning impairment. Some of these changes can last a year or even several years after discontinuing use. Chronic use can also cause a decrease in white matter in the brain which will cause functional abnormalities. 

Meth psychosis can develop from chronic use and shows similarities to schizophrenic disorder. Symptoms can include agitation, violence, and delusions. An individual’s sense of reality becomes distorted and they experience hallucinations. This can put individuals at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.  

Physical Dependence and Withdrawal 

Once a tolerance to methamphetamines has developed, the physical and psychological effects that arise from decreased use can make it even more difficult to stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms develop as an individual who is physically dependent on methamphetamines attempts to stop using the drug. They are not considered medically dangerous unless the psychological symptoms get severe enough that an individual is tempted to self-harm. 

Symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include: 

  • Extreme lethargy 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Jitters 
  • Depression or feelings of apathy 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Extreme cravings 
  • Paranoia 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Delusions 

Symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal can begin within 24 hours of the last use. The symptoms will peak within seven to ten days, and they can last around 14 days. 


Extreme cravings to return to methamphetamine use can be very dangerous, as the risk of overdose greatly increases if an individual relapses. Relapse occurs when an individual who was previously abstinent from drugs or alcohol begins using again. It does not mean that their progress in recovery is lost, but it may be a signifier that they need further treatment for their substance use disorder (SUD). 

If an individual in recovery begins feeling as though they cannot handle the stress in their lives or that they need to isolate from others, this is an important sign they should reach out for help.

Methamphetamine Use Disorder Treatment 

Treatment for methamphetamine use disorder involves addiction specialists and professionals who will work with participants to treat both the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that may occur throughout recovery. Each stage of the recovery treatment process will focus on the participant’s comfort and mental well-being to ensure their success from this dangerous disorder. Because methamphetamine use can drastically affect an individual’s physical and mental well-being, receiving treatment could save an individual’s life and get them back on track to living a fulfilling life. 

Receiving treatment for meth addiction can be nerve-wracking at first. Oftentimes, the circumstances that lead an individual into their current way of life with drug use are not ones they would like to revisit. This can cause feelings of resistance to addiction treatments such as group and individual therapy. It is important to remember that this treatment has been proven to allow individuals to reach recovery and begin their new, fulfilling lives. Knowing what to expect from methamphetamine treatment can ease some of the anxieties that may arise prior to admittance. 


During the initial evaluation, a medical team will assess a participant’s current state of health and the length and extent of their methamphetamine use. From this evaluation, the medical team will be able to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will fit the needs and goals of the specific individual. 


Stabilization will begin when an individual is suffering from withdrawal symptoms from abstaining from methamphetamine use. In this stage, medical staff will begin to treat withdrawal symptoms through medications and therapy in order to stabilize the participant. Although there are no FDA-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction and withdrawal, antidepressants, medications to treat panic attacks, and milder stimulants may be used to target specific withdrawal symptoms. 

Further Treatment 

Once a participant is no longer suffering from symptoms of withdrawal, they will be able to transition into longer-term treatment that will address the psychological effects of addiction and treat any co-occurring disorders. With different forms of therapy, individuals will be able to overcome their struggle with SUD and learn better ways to cope with stress and anxiety in recovery. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can effectively treat the feelings of low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety following chronic methamphetamine use. CBT will increase an individual’s confidence by helping them manage cravings, teaching them positive behaviors to manage stress, and increasing their awareness and skills to address high-risk situations. 

The Matrix Model will incorporate behavioral therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, education, and the 12 Steps to encourage desirable behaviors and abstinence from methamphetamine use. 

Oftentimes, reaching stabilization from methamphetamine will not address the urge to relapse. When this is the case, an individual may need professional help to treat the lasting psychological effects of SUD. This treatment will teach positive coping mechanisms and encourage the development of healthy habits so that individuals will not be tempted to relapse. 

Treatment at Crescent Moon Recovery 

At Crescent Moon Recovery, located in beautiful Orange County, California, our participants will be invited into a rich recovery community that is committed to their success. Our dedicated staff will provide patient-centered treatment in an outpatient setting, tackling the biggest challenges alongside our participants. Utilizing evidence-based addiction treatment modalities, we will work with our participants to achieve their unique goals in recovery. 

Remaining abstinent from methamphetamine use can become one of the biggest struggles in recovery. Crescent Moon Recovery will encourage our participants and help them build a fulfilling life in recovery. Through behavioral therapies, drug education, family therapy, group therapy, and individual counseling, participants will develop positive coping mechanisms and strong support systems that can benefit them long after treatment. 

Crescent Moon Recovery treats addictions with a balanced mental, physical, and spiritual approach. We strive to address each of these domains through CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and group and individual therapy guided by licensed professionals. Our participants will have the access to many vocational, educational, therapeutic, and nutritional resources that will thoroughly build their lives for lasting recovery. 

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Addiction to methamphetamines can cause significant damage to an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing, as well as their relationships and ability to positively contribute to society. If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of chronic meth use, do not hesitate to reach out to Crescent Moon Recovery to learn more about our customized treatment plans in an outpatient setting at (714) 464-8474.

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