Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamines, a type of medication used in the treatment of ADHD. However, meth is a dangerously addictive drug that’s often manufactured illicitly for recreational use.
Like other illegal drugs, meth can be used in a variety of ways, including:
Each of these routes of ingestion comes with its own specific dangers and side effects, and each exposes individuals to the severe risks and harms associated with the short- and long-term use of methamphetamine.
Meth is produced in several different forms, with the most common varieties being:
- a white or off-white water-soluble powder known as speed
- rock or glass-like chunks referred to as crystal meth or ice
While crystal meth is usually smoked, speed is either dissolved into fluid and injected or finely crushed and inhaled through the nostril, likely using a straw or rolled-up bill.
To snort meth, individuals divide the powder into doses using a razor and a mirror or other glass surface. The drug is then inhaled into the nose through a straw where it’s absorbed by the blood vessels and mucus membranes of the sinuses.
Short-Term Effects Of Snorting Meth
When smoked or injected, methamphetamine’s effects kick in almost immediately and with the greatest possible intensity.
Snorting is slightly slower and therefore less intense, with the effects of meth being felt within, at most, a few minutes after ingestion.
The first effects of this powerful stimulant will be an intense rush of energy and pleasure as high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine are released into the brain.
It is this dopamine rush that makes methamphetamine such an addictive substance, as dopamine is responsible for sensations of pleasure, reward, and craving.
Other short-term side effects of meth use include:
- increased blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- increased body temperature
- increased breathing rate
- dry mouth
- reduced appetite
- reduced need for sleep
- reduced inhibition
- increased sex drive
- scratching or picking behaviors
- nausea and vomiting
Long-Term Effects Of Snorting Meth
When used chronically, the effects of methamphetamine on the human body are extreme. Those who use meth may do so repeatedly over a period of days at a time, eventually crashing and spending a long time sleeping as their body and mind attempt to recover.
Other long-term effects of snorting meth include:
- physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not used regularly
- frequent nosebleeds
- sinus injuries leading to difficulties speaking or swallowing
- permanent brain damage
- cognition and memory dysfunction
- dramatic personality and behavioral changes
- unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition
- organ damage or failure
- increased risk of heart attack or stroke
- “meth mouth,” encompassing severe tooth decay and gum disease
- skin sores, scabs, and infections
- inability to feel pleasure during normal, healthy activities
Opioid drugs like heroin or fentanyl are dangerous because they act as central nervous system depressants and, in cases of overdose, slow a person’s breathing to dangerous levels or stop it altogether.
Methamphetamine, however, is a stimulant and works to increase breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
In overdoses, which can and do occur as a result of snorting meth, this hyperactivity and increased blood pressure can trigger fatal events including seizures, stroke, heart attack, brain bleeds, and other forms of organ failure.
Signs of and symptoms of a meth overdose include:
- irregular heartbeats
- mental confusion
- severe chest or stomach pain
- difficulty breathing
Call 911 immediately if you or someone near you experiences these symptoms.
Meth Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one struggles with methamphetamine abuse, you may not know where to turn or how to get help.
However, comprehensive inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment programs provide access to critical services that can include:
For more information, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Drug Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — How is methamphetamine misused?
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Methamphetamine overdose
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Know the Risks of Meth
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.