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Long-Term Effects Of Meth Use

By Zawn Villines
Meth can damage virtually every aspect of your well-being. Here are the most prevalent effects over time.

In 2018, about 1.9 million people said they’d used methamphetamine in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The actual figure may be even higher, since this survey relies on self-reports. Over a million people struggled with meth abuse or dependence the same year. 

For some, their addiction will cause a fatal overdose. But overdose isn’t the only consequence of meth use. Addiction to this drug can make you more likely to have a wide variety of health problems. 

Long-Term Effects on the Brain 

Like other drugs, crystal meth immediately begins changing the brain when a user gets high. The changes don’t end with the high, though. Over time, use of meth can change the structure and behavior of your brain, triggering a range of brain health issues. 

“Of all drugs, crystal methamphetamine has some of the most consequential long-term negative effects,” Lin Sternlicht, LMHC, a therapist and addiction specialist, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “The neurological impacts are significant, because it drastically changes parts of the brain and decreases the level important neurotransmitters,” which are brain chemicals.

Sternlicht adds that this can cause long-term problems with the way the brain functions, including emotional and memory problems. 

These brain changes may cause symptoms like: 

  • Impulse control problems 
  • Issues concentrating 
  • Trouble with daily functioning 

Emotional and Relationship Health Issues 

The brain chemistry changes linked to meth can cause a wide range of mental health issues, including: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Intense anger 
  • Sleep problems
  • Psychosis and delusions

For many users, the biggest struggle is withdrawal. During withdrawal, you may feel desperate for the drug, and willing to do just about anything to get it. You may prioritize the drug over friends and family, ignore loved ones, and lose relationships. This can set off a spiral of depression, worsening addiction, and even more relationship problems. 

Physical Health Problems 

Meth can cause gradually hurt your body, too. Some effects include: 

  • Loss of appetite that causes dangerous weight loss 
  • Dental health issues, such as gum disease, missing teeth, and tooth decay (“meth mouth”) 
  • Painful skin sores that may leave scars
  • Damage to organs, including heart failure

Legal and Financial Woes 

Meth is illegal for recreational use, which means that all meth users may face legal issues such as arrest and jail. 

The drug can also have far-reaching effects on your financial health. Addiction could lead you to spend all of your money on meth, leading to poverty and homelessness. 

Meth could hurt your ability to get or keep a job, too. It may even lead to dangerous criminal activity that exposes a you to a higher risk of assault and other types of violence. 

Get Help Now 

Your meth addiction does not have to destroy your health. No matter how long you have used or how much you worry about your ability to quit, there is hope. 

Treatment works, and it can work for you. WebMD Connect to Care advisors are here to help you find the right treatment. Call 855-466-7204 today to begin walking the path toward the better life you deserve.

Treatment & Resources for Meth Addiction