The Dangers of Methamphetamine Use

The American public was well aware of methamphetamine and the problems that its use could cause before 2008. However, the hit TV series Breaking Bad thrust making, selling and using methamphetamine front and center in the American consciousness.

Methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly referred to, is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic stimulant. Meth causes people who use it to feel euphoric and have increased energy and alertness. It can also cause weight loss. Unfortunately, meth can also have devastating effects on individual health, families and communities.

Meth use can cause health complications. 

Weight loss, increased energy, euphoria and increased focus all sound great to most of us. However, seeking these effects from stimulants like meth can cause a wide variety of frightening and sometimes permanent physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Psychosis
  • Addiction
  • Changes in brain structure
  • Dental problems
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Mood disturbance
  • Memory loss
  • Lung and respiratory problems from smoking
  • Damage to the heart and blood vessels
  • Tachycardia
  • Hyperthermia
  • Anhedonia

Meth can interfere with antiretroviral medications in people with HIV. Meth is also associated with increased HIV encephalitis.

Meth use affects more than the life of the person using it. 

Everyone around the person who uses meth is affected in some way. Meth use can lead to job loss, incarceration and financial instability, which can affect the entire family.

Children of parents who use meth can be neglected and left to care for themselves and their siblings when their parents are unable to fulfill parental duties. There may even be violence in the home against the children or a partner if the person using meth is emotionally unstable and aggressive. A spouse or partner watches helplessly as their loved one becomes a stranger and begins keeping secrets and acting out in uncharacteristic ways.

When a child uses meth it can be terrifying to that child’s parents to watch the change in personality and behavior. The child may begin to isolate, display inappropriate behavior and have declining grades. They can become aggressive and violent. If it is an adult child who is using, they may have to rely on parents or extended family for housing and assistance providing for basic needs.

Knowledge of the effects of meth use during pregnancy is limited, but research indicates it can cause small size, lethargy and heart and brain abnormalities. There is an increased risk of premature birth and placental abruption.

Friends and family watch in anguish as their loved one’s life implodes. Coworkers and bosses deal with the decreased work performance of the person using. The person who uses meth can even become reckless on the job and put themselves and others at risk of injury or contribute to workplace violence.

There is no doubt that meth can destroy the person using it, but it can also devastate families, tear apart friendships and end careers.

Meth use can destroy communities. 

The effects of meth use can be felt even beyond the individual who is using and their family, friends and coworkers. Once meth is introduced into a community and use becomes widespread, the entire community will bear the burden of its negative effects.

Just the manufacturing process can cause health problems for people in the surrounding area and damage to the environment because meth is a mix of pseudoephedrine and toxic materials. Since highly flammable products are used in the process of making meth, there is an inherent risk of explosions and fires.

Communities with widespread meth manufacturing and use experience an increase in child neglect and crimes. Law enforcement and social services resources can become overwhelmed and stretched to the breaking point. An increase in crime rates can make business owners want to move and new business owners may be hesitant to open up shop in these areas. Property values may drop as well.

Are recovery treatments available for meth use?

Currently, the treatments for meth use are contingency management interventions and behavioral therapies. Unfortunately, there are no medications available at this time to counteract the effects of meth or to assist in maintaining abstinence. However, there are nonpharmacological therapies that are being investigated for the treatment of meth use such as neurofeedback and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Researchers are even working on a methamphetamine vaccine that will use the body’s immune system to keep the drug from entering the brain.

Stopping meth use is not easy, but it is possible with support and treatment from trained professionals. Choosing a meth-free life is the best gift a person can give themselves and their family, friends, coworkers and community.

Sobriety is a challenging journey, but the freedom gained is worth the effort.

Methamphetamine use can lead to detrimental mental and physical health complications, but its effects reach beyond the individual. Methamphetamine use can tear families apart and even affect whole communities. Quitting is not easy, but it is worth it, and help to quit is available at Casa Palmera. We have highly trained staff, different levels of care and an alumni program to keep you engaged in treatment from the time you start until completion.  Call Casa Palmera today at (855) 508-0473


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.