Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich

Translate   

 

Medical Impact of Meth

Sores resulting from meth use.Meth modifies the brain's pleasure receptors by producing excess levels of dopamine, a natural chemical found in the brain. The excess dopamine produced by meth usually allows users to experience a fairly rapid but brief rush, followed by a longer period of euphoria. Following the period of euphoric sensation is the crash – a longer period of lethargy, depression, paranoia and even violent or aggressive behavior. With prolonged use, a meth user's ability to experience normal levels of pleasure declines and is replaced by extreme boredom with normal day-to-day activities. It is this scenario that makes meth a highly addictive drug that creates powerful cravings in the user.

Signs that someone may be using meth include:

  • increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration
  • excessive sweating
  • flushed, tense or anxious appearance
  • high levels of energy
  • nervousness
  • incessant talking
  • chemical odor on the breath
  • rapid speech
  • dilated pupils
  • bloodshot eyes
  • extreme moodiness and irritability
  • false sense of confidence or power
  • severe depression
  • disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • repetitious behavior such as picking skin or pulling hair
  • poor hygiene
  • inability to sleep or eat

Long-term meth use can cause permanent and severe physical and psychological problems, including severe weight loss, rotting teeth, scars and open sores, a variety of cardiovascular problems, convulsions and hallucinations. Meth-induced paranoia can result in homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Using brain imaging techniques, scientists have found that damage done to the dopamine neurons by long-time meth use remained for as long as three years after meth use was stopped. Much remains to be learned about the long-term effects of using meth.

You do not have to be a meth user to be affected by meth. The manufacture of meth presents a substantial risk of injury and even death to those who live in or near drug labs. Chemicals found in these labs can enter the body through inhalation of gases produced by the manufacturing process. The acidic gases released in meth production can immediately cause second- or third-degree burns of the skin and extreme pain and even death if inhaled. Meth lab chemicals can be absorbed through contact with the skin, a danger that occurs both from cooking meth and from storing chemical ingredients. The effects of taking these toxic materials into the body through inhalation or absorption may be temporary or permanent, immediate or delayed, mild or severe, and can injure the lungs and skin, liver and kidneys and the nervous system. Eating contaminated foods and beverages, or placing contaminated objects such as containers or toys in the mouth, leads to ingestion of these dangerous chemicals. Ingestion of some of the chemicals used to make meth can cause psychosis, seizures and, in high doses, death. Young children, because they crawl and play on the floor and put their hands and other objects into their mouths, are at a much greater risk than adults for ingestion and absorption of these chemicals. Children's different metabolic processes, including more rapid respiration and higher metabolic and growth rates, also place them at an increased risk of chemical exposure from inhaled, absorbed and ingested toxins.

More information on the medical impact of meth is available on the National Institute of Drug Abuse Website.

Sores resulting from meth use.Meth modifies the brain's pleasure receptors by producing excess levels of dopamine, a natural chemical found in the brain. The excess dopamine produced by meth usually allows users to experience a fairly rapid but brief rush, followed by a longer period of euphoria. Following the period of euphoric sensation is the crash – a longer period of lethargy, depression, paranoia and even violent or aggressive behavior. With prolonged use, a meth user's ability to experience normal levels of pleasure declines and is replaced by extreme boredom with normal day-to-day activities. It is this scenario that makes meth a highly addictive drug that creates powerful cravings in the user.

Signs that someone may be using meth include:

  • increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration
  • excessive sweating
  • flushed, tense or anxious appearance
  • high levels of energy
  • nervousness
  • incessant talking
  • chemical odor on the breath
  • rapid speech
  • dilated pupils
  • bloodshot eyes
  • extreme moodiness and irritability
  • false sense of confidence or power
  • severe depression
  • disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • repetitious behavior such as picking skin or pulling hair
  • poor hygiene
  • inability to sleep or eat

Long-term meth use can cause permanent and severe physical and psychological problems, including severe weight loss, rotting teeth, scars and open sores, a variety of cardiovascular problems, convulsions and hallucinations. Meth-induced paranoia can result in homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Using brain imaging techniques, scientists have found that damage done to the dopamine neurons by long-time meth use remained for as long as three years after meth use was stopped. Much remains to be learned about the long-term effects of using meth.

You do not have to be a meth user to be affected by meth. The manufacture of meth presents a substantial risk of injury and even death to those who live in or near drug labs. Chemicals found in these labs can enter the body through inhalation of gases produced by the manufacturing process. The acidic gases released in meth production can immediately cause second- or third-degree burns of the skin and extreme pain and even death if inhaled. Meth lab chemicals can be absorbed through contact with the skin, a danger that occurs both from cooking meth and from storing chemical ingredients. The effects of taking these toxic materials into the body through inhalation or absorption may be temporary or permanent, immediate or delayed, mild or severe, and can injure the lungs and skin, liver and kidneys and the nervous system. Eating contaminated foods and beverages, or placing contaminated objects such as containers or toys in the mouth, leads to ingestion of these dangerous chemicals. Ingestion of some of the chemicals used to make meth can cause psychosis, seizures and, in high doses, death. Young children, because they crawl and play on the floor and put their hands and other objects into their mouths, are at a much greater risk than adults for ingestion and absorption of these chemicals. Children's different metabolic processes, including more rapid respiration and higher metabolic and growth rates, also place them at an increased risk of chemical exposure from inhaled, absorbed and ingested toxins.

More information on the medical impact of meth is available on the National Institute of Drug Abuse Website.