Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a form of methamphetamine that can be smoked in a glass or homemade pipe. Crystal meth itself can cause numerous health risks but the process of smoking meth poses significant additional dangers.
Crystal methamphetamine smoking can lead to chapped lips, burns, and sores near the mouth. Open wounds increase the risk of infections like HIV and Hepatitis. Using your own pipe, especially one that isn’t broken or cracked can reduce infections and injuries.
Using A Crystal Meth Pipe
Crystal meth pipes can be homemade or purchased in convenience stores, gas stations, or online. They look similar to a crack pipe, which consists of a long glass stem, but a meth pipe has a bowl attached to one end.
Crystal meth starts as a solid, clear-colored rock and turns to liquid when heated. The bowl is used to collect the liquid and avoid it being inhaled or swallowed.
Along with a glass pipe, drug paraphernalia may also include:
- mouth piece
- push stick
Store manufactured crystal meth pipes are made of glass (like pyrex) and safe to use unless broken or burned. Using homemade meth pipes is much more dangerous and increases the risk of injuries and infections.
Homemade meth pipes may be made from:
- tin foil
- light bulbs
- aluminum cans
The drug is put inside the bowl and heated with a lighter until liquified. Inhaling the vapors can send the drug into your bloodstream within seconds, which can result in a euphoric high. However, many people turn to binge crystal meth because its effects wear off quickly.
Using crystal meth frequently increases the risk of several health issues and dangerous side effects. Knowing how to safely use meth until you are ready to reach out for help can reduce the risk of harmful consequences.
Safer Crystal Meth Use
There is always some level of risk when using illegal drugs, especially crystal methamphetamine. The method of use and the drug itself both carry their own health risks. However, substance use disorders (SUDs), including meth addiction, are difficult to overcome.
If you or a loved one is addicted to crystal meth, safer smoking practices can help you reduce dangerous health risks.
Health risks associated with smoking crystal meth include:
- dry or cracked lips
- inhaling toxic vapors from homemade pipes
- tooth decay (“meth mouth”)
Frequent drug use can cause your mouth to become chapped and sore. This makes you more vulnerable to open wounds, which can become infected. If you share pipes, you are also at an increased risk of spreading infections like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and Hepatitis C.
To reduce your risk of health issues when smoking crystal meth:
- do not share pipes and other paraphernalia
- do not use pipes that are cracked or broken
- stay hydrated to reduce chapped lips
- carry chapstick or vaseline
- avoid using homemade pipes
Additionally, binge smoking increases the risk of lung damage or a potentially fatal overdose.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that can increase central nervous system activity, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. A meth overdose can cause a stroke, heart attack, and organ failure.
The Benefits Of Harm Reduction
The opioid crisis led to the development of syringe and needle exchange programs across the country. Although there is limited evidence, a similar program for crystal meth addiction has the potential to help many people avoid unnecessary injuries and infections.
A harm reduction kit for smoking crystal meth or crack cocaine may include:
- glass pipe
- push stick
- lip balms
- sanitizing wipes
- educational pamphlets
Harm reduction outreach programs aim to educate people on safer ways to use drugs until they are ready to seek help. More importantly, they can give you access to community resources like sterile equipment and treatment programs.
Harm reduction can also include:
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs
- overdose prevention
- injection sites
- referrals to mental health counselors
- education about the risks of drug use and safer practices
Although abstinence is the goal, harm reduction is an important part of the recovery journey for many people. To learn how Northeast Addictions Treatment Center supports harm reduction in our treatment programs, please contact us today.
- Addiction and Health — Current Research On Methamphetamine: Epidemiology, Medical And Psychiatric Effects, Treatment, And Harm Reduction Efforts
- BMC: Harm Reduction Journal — Reducing Widespread Pipe Sharing And Risky Sex Among Crystal Methamphetamine Smokers In Toronto: Do Safer Smoking Kits Have A Potential Role To Play?
- National Harm Reduction Coalition — Find Harm Reduction Resources Near You
- National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Methamphetamine DrugFacts
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.