Drugs - Methamphetamines
Methamphetamine is extremely addictive. Withdrawal from meth is more intense and longer lasting than withdrawal
from cocaine or amphetamines. Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant drug. It is similar to a family
of drugs called amphetamines. Meth has even more prolonged effects on the central nervous system and brain than
stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines.
Meth use can lead to meth binges which can last 2-3 days during which users do not eat or sleep, and may
have psychotic behavior including hallucinations, and paranoia. Meth use can lead to damaged health, violent
behavior, increased crime, chemical fires, child neglect, and many other consequences. Meth use releases high
levels of dopamine, leading to feelings of immense pleasure. Users eventually can only achieve those feelings
through meth use, and become incapable of feeling pleasure without meth. However, they never again reach the
high they experienced the first time they used. This damage to the pleasure centers of the brain can begin
to heal once the person stops using meth.
The dangerous chemicals used in producing meth can lead to harmful environmental damage exposing residents
and neighbors to dangerous toxins, and increasing the risk of fire and explosion.
Immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine abuse may include:
- Increased attention and decreased fatigue
- Increased activity
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiratory rate
- Dangerously high body temperature
Long-term (chronic) effects of methamphetamine abuse may include
- Anxiety and anxiousness
- Severe weight loss
- Changes to brain and central nervous system
- Damage to heart or other major organs
- Tremor or uncontrolled motor activity
- Mood disturbances, including homicidal or suicidal thinking
- Violent and/or paranoid behavior
- Amphetamine psychosis
Symptoms of withdrawal may include:
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Research Report on Methamphetamine Abuse, 2002
- Intense drug craving
- Meth abuse causes the destruction of tissues and blood vessels, inhibiting the body's ability to
- Acne appears, sores take longer to heal, and the skin loses its luster and elasticity, making the user
appear years, even decades older
- Poor diet, tooth grinding and oral hygiene results in tooth decay and loss
- Some users are covered in small sores, the result of obsessive skin-picking brought on by the
hallucination of having bugs crawling beneath the skin
Recovery from Meth Use
What about Meth use and Pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, the drugs you take also go to your fetus. The toxicity of the meth manufacturing
process is especially dangerous to you and your unborn child. If you or someone in your home is using any
illicit drug while you are pregnant, get help immediately. Your health care provider can assist you in
locating the resources in your community. If you are having trouble finding a prenatal care provider, you
may contact your local county health department (chd). To find the chd serving your Florida county, go
All pregnant women and new parents in Florida who have abused drugs during pregnancy are eligible for
Healthy Start services. These services are aimed at reducing barriers to getting into treatment, providing
support for abstinence and assisting in getting needed health care. To find Healthy Start services in
your area, you may go to
Here is a
list of drug treatment providers.
For more information on the impact of methamphetamine use
during pregnancy , you may go to
The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Center [PDF;
Recovery Is Possible
Experts once thought cases of meth addiction were hopeless -- a high percentage would always relapse -- but today
they know that recovery is possible, although it may take years of medication and behavior therapy.
Because methamphetamine changes the brain's wiring by destroying its dopamine receptors, users need almost a
year to allow those receptors to regrow. Until then, addicts cannot experience pleasure without the drug, and
most slip into a deep depression that may cause them to relapse. This depression can be treated with
psychopharmacology, and now many treatment programs include prescriptions for anti-depressants.
In addition, meth addicts must relearn certain behaviors. Because meth has trained them to associate all
pleasure with the drug, they need to learn to modify their thinking and expectations. Counseling helps them
cope with their cravings, examine the personal issues that lead to the abuse, and help them avoid situations
that may cause a relapse. Many treatment experts insist that out-patient treatment is essential to recovery, with
some programs starting to work with addicts even while they are still using the drug. In addition, some
experts believe that because the disease is so debilitating and the recovery process so protracted, meth
addicts also need help and reinforcement from the criminal justice system; many newly-formed drug courts keep
track of users in recovery and install penalties for not participating in treatment programs.
For information about drug treatment options in your community, see the U.S. government's
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
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See the links below to get more information on the effects of methamphetamine and on resources available
Cleanup of Clandestine Methamphetamine
Labs Guidance Document
(150 KB PDF -- you may need to downlodad the free
view the document).
Colorado Dept. of Health
The Faces of
A project of the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office
HIV/AIDS Counseling,Testing and
Dept. of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS website
HIV home page for WebMD
Gives an AIDS overview
Information regarding pregnant women at risk for HIV or substance
Just Think Twice
Matrix Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use
Disorders (IOP) This link to the Gulf Coast Addiction TrA
Technology Transfer Center provides information on the Matrix model
and other proven treatment models. The Matrix model was August 15,
2006, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Key to Methamphetamine-Related Literature - New York State
Department of Health - This resource is a comprehensive thematic
index of research articles which pertain to methamphetamine. The
cited articles are drawn principally from peer-reviewed journals,
however some "grey literature" has been included when its underlying
research was noteworthy and not otherwise reported in the journals.
Meth and Child Welfare [PDF; 2.57mb] Includes promising
Solutions for Children, Parents, and Grandparents provides a set of
recommendations to improve the child welfare system's ability to
counteract the impact of methamphetamine (meth) use on children,
families, and communities.
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)
Resources relating to substance abuse and child welfare. NCSACW is
an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Includes link to PBS show on The Meth Epidemic
STOP Meth - Florida's methamphetamine information website.
For more information on methamphetamines and children, you may
Florida Department of Health's Substance Abuse website.
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