Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and also is one of the most damaging substances, even from occasional use. While seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction may seem like a daunting task, letting your drug abuse go untreated can have some pretty huge physical, emotional, and financial consequences.
“Untreated methamphetamine addiction can lead to severe emotional, psychological, neurological, and cognitive impairment,” says Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, Chief Medical Officer at American Addiction Centers. “Psychotic symptoms, memory loss, aggression, and motor deficits are all effects that can become permanent. Methamphetamine is an incredibly dangerous drug. Prolonged use only leads to more devastating effects and will eventually result in death.”
Here are more details on the consequences of an untreated meth addiction.
Damage to the central nervous system
The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord and is involved in nearly every function of your body. According to the American Addictions Centers, "the use of methamphetamine is associated with decreases in the number of neurons in the central nervous system." This ultimately results in brain damage across all areas of the brain.
Decrease in dopamine
Dopamine is a chemical released by the body that signals satisfaction, or a job well-done. The chronic use of meth depletes dopamine over time, which can result in extreme mood swings, the American Addiction Centers note. Meth triggers a blast of sustained euphoria, which is followed by depression and hopelessness. Over time, the only way to achieve the euphoric feeling is with the assistance of meth.
Psychological side effects
People who do not treat their methamphetamine addiction can start to exhibit severe psychological side effects, such as anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and violent behavior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that they may also experience paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. These can last for months or even years after a person has quit using (a condition called post-acute withdrawal syndrome), so the earlier you quit the better off you may be.
Methamphetamine use has devastating physical side effects including weight loss, tooth decay (often referred to as "meth mouth"), and skin sores. Dental problems may be caused by poor nutrition, dental hygiene, and teeth grinding. The skin sores come from picking and scratching the skin, which is part of the delusional side effects mentioned earlier.
"From a physical standpoint, the probability of developing osteoporosis, tooth decay, cardiac issues, respiratory damage, and/or organ failure increase exponentially as the use of the drug continues,” says Dr. Weinstein.