Dangers of Snorting and Smoking Meth

Snorting and smoking meth is dangerous, putting you at risk of addiction, overdose, and long-term health concerns. But with effective support, you can leave drug abuse behind and reclaim your future.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a powerful stimulant drug that people snort, smoke, swallow, or inject. Meth comes as a white crystal-like powder that dissolves in water. People abuse meth to experience its intense high, which may make them feel alert and awake and produce feelings of euphoria.

Meth is a highly addictive substance with a serious risk of fatal overdose and other health adversities. Crystal meth is a form of drug that looks like white-blueish-colored rocks or glass fragments.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 2 million teenagers and adults use meth every year.

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What Are the Dangers of Snorting Meth?

Snorting meth comes with several short-term and long-term dangers.

Taking meth can have serious short-term consequences, even in small amounts. Some of the short-term effects of snorting meth include:

  • increased blood pressure

  • increased body temperature

  • faster breathing

  • irregular heartbeat

  • loss of appetite

  • disturbed sleep patterns

  • erratic, aggressive, or violent behavior

  • nosebleeds and damage to nasal passages

  • overdose

People who repeatedly take meth over time also expose themselves to long-term health effects, which may persist even when they stop taking meth. Risks of chronic meth abuse include:

  • permanent damage to the heart and brain

  • high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death

  • damage to the liver, kidney, and lungs

  • anxiety, confusion, and insomnia

  • psychotic symptoms, including paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, and violent behavior

  • severe depression

  • osteoporosis

  • dependence

  • addiction

Meth Use and Cognitive Function

Research suggests that continued meth use affects parts of the brain's dopamine system that regulates coordination, verbal learning, and emotion. Studies on long-term meth users found that chronic use could lead to reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning.

While some of these effects may reverse after a year or more of abstinence, other changes may be permanent. Some studies also suggest that meth use could be connected with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

What Happens If You Snort Meth?

When you snort meth, the substance quickly passes into the blood vessels in the nasal passages and up into the brain, producing effects within 3-5 minutes.

Meth is a type of central nervous system stimulant that works by increasing activity in the brain. It increases the availability of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger that brain cells use to communicate with one another and other cells in the body. Dopamine makes the user feel alert and energetic and is responsible for the drug's addictive potential.

The high methamphetamine produces is typically short, lasting only a few hours before leading to a devastating crash. To avoid the crash, many meth users binge on the substance, repeatedly taking the drug for days at a time. During a meth binge, users may neglect to fulfill their basic needs, barely eating or sleeping. This can weaken the body, exacerbating the health risks of methamphetamine abuse.

What Are the Dangers of Smoking Meth?

Smoking meth comes with most of the same dangers as snorting the drug. However, smoking or injecting the substance offers a faster route of ingestion, causing an immediate, intense rush that can amplify the drug's dangerous side effects and increase the risk of overdose.

Smoking meth also risks damage to the lungs, including:

  • non-cardiac pulmonary edema

  • acute respiratory distress syndrome

  • alveolar hemorrhage

  • pneumonia

  • pneumoconiosis

Can You Overdose Smoking Meth?

You can overdose on meth through any method of ingestion. However, smoking and injecting meth may come with a higher risk because of the speed that the substance reaches the brain.

An overdose happens when you take more of the substance than your body can process, resulting in a toxic reaction with harmful symptoms or death.

Symptoms of a meth overdose include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Seizures

  • Chest pain

  • Confusion

  • High body pressure

  • High or low blood pressure

  • Intense stomach pain

  • Intensely hyper or aggressive behavior

  • Paranoia

  • Loss of consciousness

If you think someone may be experiencing a meth overdose, seek immediate medical attention. Medics can provide emergency, life-saving treatment to counter organ failure caused by meth overdose. This may involve restoring blood flow to the heart, and brain, or treating organ problems.

Currently, some illicit drug producers are adding cheap, synthetic opioids like fentanyl to meth to increase the intensity of the high, in most cases unknown to the user. This practice is extremely dangerous and puts meth users at a high risk of opioid overdose as well as stimulant overdose.

Understanding Meth Dependence and Addiction

Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is when you continue to seek or use meth, despite any negative consequences. Addiction is characterized by physical changes in the brain that produce strong urges to use a substance, which can be difficult to resist without effective support.

Meth addiction develops because of its interactions with the reward system in the brain. The reward system is an important part of how the brain works, helping to reinforce life-preserving behaviors. When you engage in an activity like eating or having sex, the brain releases a small amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This signals to the brain that alters the neuronal connectivity along the reward pathway, making it more likely that you will repeat the activity.

Taking meth floods the brain with dopamine, hijacking the reward system. It produces strong cravings to take meth that are much more intense than usual, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, while addiction can be scary, effective treatment can help individuals to cope with cravings and go some way to reversing brain changes.

Meth Dependence

Meth dependence happens when your body physically adapts to the presence of the substance. You begin to need more and more of the substance to experience the same effects and eventually become dependent on the drug to feel normal.

If you then stop taking meth, you experience a series of withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on each individual's drug abuse and co-occurring physical and mental health conditions. Some common stimulant withdrawal symptoms include:

  • fatigue

  • body aches

  • anxiety

  • depression

Withdrawal from meth can be tough, but professional medical support can guide you through the process, ensuring your safety at all times. You should always contact a medical professional before withdrawing from meth.

How to Tell If Someone Is Smoking Meth?

If you are concerned that someone you know is smoking meth, there are a few signs to look out for. If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms, contact a mental health professional for expert advice on how to proceed.

Signs and symptoms of methamphetamine use may include:

  • drug paraphernalia, such as a glass pipe

  • weight loss

  • mood swings

  • loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy

  • neglect of home and work responsibilities

  • lying or secretive behavior

  • signs of dental cavities and tooth decay (meth mouth) if they are also orally ingesting meth

Find Help - Meth Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is living with meth addiction, you are not alone. There is plenty of help available proven to support methamphetamine users to reach lifelong recovery.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effective addiction treatment should be individualized to meet each client's unique needs. Meth addiction treatment programs typically combine a variety of evidence-based approaches in personalized treatment plans, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Group therapy

  • Support groups

  • Life skills development

  • Holistic treatment approaches such as yoga and meditation

  • Dual diagnosis

  • Medical detox

  • Medication-assisted therapy

Effective addiction treatment addresses the underlying causes of addiction, promoting long-lasting healing and meaningful change. It usually involves aftercare programs to support clients once they have left the center as they continue their recovery journey, guiding them through any challenges they face.

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Vita Recovery - The Road to Sobriety

Vita Recovery is a high-quality, inclusive, and welcoming space for you to begin your recovery journey. Our treatment facilities offer a home away from home, mixing modernity with comfort to provide the optimum treatment experience.

Our treatment programs address the multiple needs of each individual, supporting clients in their medical, psychological, emotional, and social concerns. Our innovative treatment approaches are based on the forefront of addiction science, delivering sophisticated techniques on a one-to-one basis.

If you or someone you know is living with substance abuse or addiction, we're here to help. Contact our compassionate team of experts today to explore the next steps.

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