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Chronic Methamphetamine Use | La Hacienda


What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant made from amphetamine and other drugs. Commonly referred to as “meth,” it can be prescribed to treat obesity and ADHD.

Developed in the early 20th century, methamphetamine was used as a nasal decongestant in cold medications and bronchial inhalers. Its stimulant effects on the brain resulted in decreased appetite, increased activity, and a general sense of pleasure,

Use involves an increased health risk for drug abuse and meth addiction, so it is classified as a Schedule II stimulant, legally available for small, non-refillable prescription doses.

Meth Crystals at Same Time | La Hacienda

A Major Health Problem in the U.S.

Among people ages 18-64 in America, overdose deaths involving methamphetamine nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

How Does It Affect the Central Nervous System?

Like other stimulants, methamphetamine affects the CNS through large releases of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, leading to euphoria, feelings of invulnerability, and increased energy.

Methamphetamine affects brain functions engaged in decision-making and harms the ability to control habitual behaviors that have become ineffective or produce undesirable health results. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that after use, methamphetamine traces can be found in urine for a week, in the blood for 48 hours, and in hair for 90 days.

Use for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Methamphetamine can be effective for treatment of ADHD because it raises attention levels and decreases restlessness.

A legal, FDA-approved version of methamphetamine. –methamphetamine hydrochloride (Desoxyn)– is used to treat ADHD and obesity. Other drugs are preferred, however, because of the negative consequences of chronic methamphetamine use.

Is Crystal Meth the Same as Methamphetamine?

Crystal methamphetamine, aka crystal meth (street names chalk, crank, ice, speed), is an illegally altered version of methamphetamine. Over-the-counter drugs are cooked with the substance in meth labs and the result resembles glass fragments. Crystal methamphetamine is usually smoked in a small glass pipe.

Methamphetamine Use and Side Effects

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According to the National Institutes of Health, methamphetamine use results in many of the same health effects as amphetamines or cocaine.

Adverse Effects of Methamphetamine Drug Use

  • Decreased appetite
  • High body temperature
  • Increased wakefulness, obsessive physical activity
  • Mood swings or outbursts, including violent behavior
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Euphoria
  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and risk of stroke
  • Convulsions
  • Nervous activity, like picking at the skin or scratching
  • Dizziness, irritability, or confusion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Skin sores
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive problems
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Risky behaviors
  • Death

Meth Mouth, a ‘Dental Nightmare’

Severe dental problems often result from poor body care that accompanies long-term use of methamphetamine.

The American Dental Association says “meth mouth, a dentist’s worst nightmare”–is caused by extended periods of poor oral hygiene, and health and psychological changes resulting in dry mouth, and teeth grinding and clenching.

Methamphetamine Drug Abuse

Meth’s adverse effects on the heart, blood flow, and the central nervous system can lead to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, seizures, and life-threatening overdose.

When it is mixed with alcohol or cocaine, the likelihood of an overdose is greatly increased. Long-term Meth use adversely affects brain structure, leading to impaired decision making.

About two million people 12 and older in the U.S. take meth annually, while about 500 users try it for the first time each day, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Abrupt cessation of methamphetamine use can result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

  • Lethargy, excessive sleepiness, and fatigue
  • Increased hunger, thirst, and jitteriness
  • Apathy, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide
  • Extreme cravings for more methamphetamine
  • Psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia

Emotional Problems

Toxic effects of long-term methamphetamine use, even in small doses, include emotional problems or violent behavior.

Where is Methamphetamine Made?

Most of methamphetamine production has moved to Mexico to avoid U. S. legal restrictions. Criminal organizations there produce a very potent and cheap methamphetamine. Crystal methamphetamine, however, is still produced in clandestine labs in the U.S. using inexpensive substances such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicine.

Drug Enforcement Administration Limits Ingredients

To curb domestic production of crystal meth, the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA ) requires pharmacies to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine.

Methamphetamine Abuse

Instances where methamphetamine overdose led to death almost tripled in the U.S. from 2015 to 2019, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. Growth in higher-risk patterns of methamphetamine use–such as increases in methamphetamine use disorder, and simultaneous use of other drugs may account for the rapid increase.

Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction

Behavioral therapies are the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Treating patients with programs that include behavioral therapy are proven to aid recovery, says the agency.

Effective Treatment at La Hacienda

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For 50 years La Hacienda Treatment Center has provided individualized addiction treatment for people suffering from substance abuse.

Patients’ health is a primary concern. On-campus, board-certified addiction treatment physicians meet daily with patients and provide health advice throughout their stay, and nurses are on duty 24/7.

If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, phone (800) 749-6160 and talk with one of our knowledgeable admission specialists.

Methamphetamine Affect National Institutes | La Hacienda


Stimulants make users feel more alert and energetic. Some can improve mental function and make it easier to lose body weight.

Methamphetamine Addiction and Drug Alcohol Substance Use Disorders | La Hacienda


Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It can be injected into the blood stream or snorted through the nose.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Human Services | La Hacienda


Ritalin is a stimulant commonly prescribed to children and adults with ADHD. It is also used as an appetite suppressant for those with eating disorders.

Nemours Foundation National Institutes Health | La Hacienda


Adderall is used in treating ADHD. Students also often use it to help them stay awake and focus on their studies. Adderall is legal if prescribed by a doctor.