Medically Reviewed by Dr. Francine Mends, MD on August 12, 2020
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that increases central nervous system (CNS) activity. It’s popular because it increases your energy and sex drive, but at the cost of potential addiction or overdose.
Over 1.5 million people used meth in the United States in 2017, and over 12,000 people died from meth overdoses in 2018.
This drug goes by a few names, including:
Blue, ice, and crystal refer to crystal meth, a smokeable type of meth that looks like pale blue glass shards. Speed is the common name for the powdered form of meth.
Most meth comes from drug labs and street dealers. Still, sometimes doctors prescribe a brand-name form of meth called Desoxyn to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, or narcolepsy. Patients who take Desoxyn are at high risk for abusing it.
Why Do People Use Meth?
There are plenty of reasons why people use meth. The drug causes euphoria or a feeling of being high. It also makes you feel hyper-energetic and hypersexual. People may start using meth to enhance sex (called chemsex), to increase their energy, and to avoid sleeping or eating.
People use meth by smoking, snorting, or injecting it after dissolving it in water.
The trouble is, any meth use can lead to meth addiction.
Meth is highly addictive. You can develop meth addiction in just a few uses. In fact, the Meth Project Foundation says that it’s one of the most addictive drugs found today.
What is Meth Addiction?
Meth addiction happens when you become physically or psychologically dependent on meth.
When you’re living with addiction, you can’t stop using meth without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Meth addiction happens when you use it long-term or in high doses.
When you use meth, it affects your brain’s ability to use dopamine, a chemical that controls your mood and ability to feel a sense of reward from everyday accomplishments.
During meth use, dopamine builds up to ultra-high levels in your body. When there’s so much dopamine in your system, you feel intensely euphoric. The problem happens once the meth starts to wear off.
When the meth wears off, your body goes back to having its normal levels of dopamine. The problem is it’s now used to the levels you experience on meth.
This leads to a constant need to use meth. Your behavior may become entirely motivated by finding and using the drug. You might find yourself ignoring important relationships or skipping activities that you used to enjoy.
Meth and Other Drugs
Many people who use meth also use other drugs at the same time. This is called poly-drug, or polysubstance, abuse, and it increases the risks of adverse health effects.
Mixing meth with other drugs can lower your overdose threshold and lead to a lethal situation. Depending on each drug, you might experience permanent health effects from combining meth with other substances.
These are the risks of mixing meth with other drugs:
- Meth and alcohol: This combination increases your risk of developing heart disease, seizures, and suicidal thoughts. It can also impact your brain health and your executive function or your ability to make complex decisions.
- Meth and heroin: Mixing meth and heroin is common. The combo is often called goofballs. It can cause an increased risk of overdose, breathing problems, and addiction. It also makes the side effects of both drugs worse.
- Meth and prescription drugs: Like heroin, mixing meth with prescription drugs can cause severe side effects that impact your breathing. You may also experience mood changes and develop addiction more quickly than expected.
- Meth and cocaine: Meth and cocaine are both stimulants, so mixing these drugs increases your risk of overdose significantly. You feel the effects of both drugs more strongly, but at the risk of dying from cardiac arrest or stroke.
- Meth and fentanyl: It’s extremely dangerous to mix these drugs. Fentanyl can mask the effects of meth because it’s so strong, causing you to redose meth when you have already had too much. The risk of overdose is very high.
What are Statistics on Meth Addiction?
Meth addiction affects almost a million Americans every year. In 2017, over 964,000 Americans had a meth use disorder, including teenagers over age 12.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- 70% of law enforcement agencies in the Pacific and west-central parts of the United States say meth is their area’s biggest threat
- Meth causes up to 29% of drug admission deaths west of Mississippi
- The average person who starts using meth is 23 years old
- 49 people per 100,000 enter treatment for meth addiction each year
- 0.5% of high school students have used meth within the last year
In 2017, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Colorado all reported increases in meth overdose deaths.
Get Help for Meth Addiction
Meth addiction is very dangerous and can lead to a fatal overdose. When you struggle with meth addiction, it can feel like you will never be able to stop using and take back your life. But this isn’t true. You can definitely beat meth addiction with the proper care and help.
The safest way to overcome meth addiction is through a quality addiction treatment program. Treatment programs can help you break the chains that tie you down to your addiction to meth. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, contact a quality treatment provider to talk about your options today.
- DrugFacts: Methamphetamine
- What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States?
- What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine misuse?
- What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?
- Meth Addiction: Symptoms, Getting Help, Detox, Treatment, and More
- Overdose Death Rates
We would love your feedback.
Was this article helpful?
Let Us Help
Use our form below to speak with an addictions specialist today. Let our team of experts in the addiction field help point you in the right direction.