One of the most preferred ways to use methamphetamine is by shooting it (injecting it) directly into the bloodstream. Injecting produces powerful effects but can be extremely dangerous because it amplifies the stimulant effects of the drug.
Intravenous injection is also associated with a higher risk for dependence, addiction, and severe physical and mental health effects.
Why Is Meth Injected?
Meth is a central nervous system stimulant that increases dopamine and activates the reward system in your brain. This can produce a long-lasting high that includes increased energy, alertness, and motivation.
Both crystal meth and meth powder can be dissolved into a liquid and injected directly into the bloodstream, causing more potent effects than other methods.
You may feel an immediate and intense “rush” of pleasurable feelings followed by an energetic high. However, injecting meth increases the risk of experiencing anxiety, paranoia, and irritability.
Health Effects Of Shooting Meth
Although injecting leads to a more rapid and intense high, it poses several physical and psychological health risks.
Injecting meth increases the risk for the following physical effects:
- decreased appetite
- irregular heart rate
- high body temperature
- high blood pressure
- increased respiratory rate
- heart attack
- cerebral hemorrhage
- skin sores
- meth mouth (tooth decay)
Injecting meth may also increase your risk for the following psychological effects:
- violent behavior
- cognitive impairment
Chronic intravenous drug use can cause scarring along the veins, known as track marks. These may also appear as puncture wounds, bruising, and discoloration at the site of injection. Vein damage and infections can also occur from repeated injection or using unsterile needles.
The following health risks are associated with the process of intravenous drug use:
- necrotizing fasciitis “flesh-eating bacteria”
- collapsed veins
- deep vein thrombosis
The process of injecting meth and crystal meth requires paraphernalia that can lead to blood-borne infections if shared or reused.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens your immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. Initial symptoms of HIV may include fever, sore throat, and fatigue. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth use may worsen the progression of HIV.
Hepatitis C causes liver inflammation and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer if left untreated. It often goes undiagnosed because many people don’t experience noticeable symptoms until there is severe liver damage.
Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
If you inject methamphetamine, you may be at high risk for stroke, heart attack, and organ problems.
Meth overdoses can be fatal if left untreated. Be aware of the following possible signs of overdose:
- chest pain
- irregular heartbeat
- high body temperature
- difficulty breathing
If you or a loved one may be suffering a meth overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Some individuals who use meth take “speedballs”, a combination of meth and opioids that can produce more powerful effects than taking either drug by itself.
A speedball may also decrease the unwanted side effects of meth, like anxiety and irritability. However, this combination increases the risk of a fatal opioid and stimulant overdose.
Tolerance & Dependence
A common way to use meth is to binge in frequent doses until the body eventually crashes, which increases your risk for tolerance and dependence.
Tolerance is when your body needs increasingly higher amounts to feel the desired effect. Dependence is when your body relies on the drug to function. Once you are dependent, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Meth has a high risk for dependence and addiction, especially when used intravenously. Although meth has several health risks and dangers, an effective treatment program can help you overcome addiction.
Treatment options that may be available include:
- Detox: Detox programs will assist you through the withdrawal symptoms that may occur when you stop using methamphetamine.
- Residential/inpatient programs: Inpatient programs are highly structured environments that address your individual needs. You may be involved with group therapy, individual counseling, peer support groups, and wellness activities.
- Behavioral therapy: Your behavioral health is one of the main focuses of addiction treatment. Behavioral therapy helps you learn to identify triggers and change your thinking and attitudes toward substance abuse.
If you or a loved one is seeking information about meth addiction treatment options, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to learn more.
National Institute on Drug Abuse - What Is Methamphetamine?
National Library of Medicine - Current Research on Methamphetamine: Epidemiology, Medical and Psychiatric Effects, Treatment, and Harm Reduction Efforts
National Library of Medicine - Motivations for Crystal Methamphetamine-Opioid Co-Injection/Co-Use Amongst Community-Recruited People Who Inject Drugs: A Qualitative Study
National Library of Medicine - The Physical Health of People Who Inject Drugs: Complexities, Challenges, and Continuity
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - The Global Epidemiology of Methamphetamine Injection
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