Can You Overdose on Meth?

Overdosing on drugs is, unfortunately, a normal part of the drug epidemic in America. Rising rates of accidental overdose are becoming more normal in nearly every state and nearly every category of drug use—including meth. An overdose on meth can cause permanent brain damage, physical disabilities, and even death.

The team at BlueCrest Recovery knows how difficult it can be to break a dependence on drugs like meth. We have years of experience helping people navigate their lives in a better direction and leave addiction behind. Our meth addiction treatment center in New Jersey is a safe place to start anew. Learn more by calling 888.292.9652 today.

The Possibility of an Overdose on Meth

Yes, overdosing on meth is possible, and it could happen the first time you take the drug. New users haven’t built up a tolerance to meth, so it’s easy to take too high a dose. This could quickly raise the heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure, which may result in a heart attack, stroke, organ damage, or death. An overdose resulting from one, or infrequent, meth use is termed an acute, or sudden, overdose.

A chronic overdose (OD) can result from the body’s reaction to the cumulative effect of long-term methamphetamine use. Even in long-time meth users, the same dose can cause an overdose in one individual and not another. Factors such as existing health conditions, individual tolerance, and whether other drugs or alcohol are in the user’s system affect how much meth might be fatal. Because street meth is an illegal drug, there is no way to know its potency or purity. While a dose from one source might not be fatal, that same dose from another source could be.

What Is Meth and How Does It Affect the Body?

Also called crystal, speed, or ice, meth is an illegal stimulant drug, meaning that it stimulates the central nervous system. This causes both physical and mental functions to speed up which can weaken or damage organs and bodily functions. Meth directly affects chemicals in the brain that are associated with impulse control and hyperactivity. Due to the intense euphoric rush meth delivers, it is quickly habit-forming and highly addictive. As tolerance increases, users take higher doses, causing further damage to the body.

What Are the Symptoms of a Meth Overdose?

Certain symptoms are common to most overdoses—dangerously high body temperature, abnormally high blood pressure, and irregular or rapid heart rate. Either acute or chronic overdose can result in permanent damage or death. Other warning signs of an overdose on meth may include:

  • Dilated pupils and rapid eye movement
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Confusion, agitation, anxiety
  • Increased aggression or paranoia
  • Rapid, labored, or difficult breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Feeling something crawling on the skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma

If you recognize these signs of a meth overdose, find help immediately as it is a medical emergency.

Signs of Long-Term Meth Use?

Those who abuse meth long-term often have significant weight loss, rotten teeth, decreased muscle mass, severe sleep disturbances, and mental health disorders. If the drug has been injected, skin sores and abscesses may occur at injection sites. Permanent physical and mental damage, such as memory loss, heart problems, organ failure, and psychotic symptoms, are possible. The most common cause of death for long-term meth abusers is organ failure.

Treatment for Meth Abuse or Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction…are behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug-related activities.”

The first step in the treatment process is detoxification, which should be done under medical supervision. A health professional who knows the user’s medical history can help prevent health complications. Although there is not a drug specifically approved to ease meth withdrawal symptoms, there are some that may help. Prescription bupropion is an antidepressant that may help reduce cravings.

After detox is complete, treatment in an inpatient rehab center has been shown to have the greatest success for long-term recovery. An individualized treatment program will also address any co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, or other co-occurring conditions.

Medically Reviewed and Fact Checked By Dr. Thomaso Skorupski, D.O.

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