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How Does Meth Affect the Heart (Beat, Blood Pressure, More)

Methamphetamine, or “meth” for short, is one of the more addictive drugs on the street. While it does give users a rush of euphoria and perhaps hallucinogenic effects, the flip side is that it can also be very damaging to the user’s body, including the heart. This is especially true for those who use meth over and over.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that comes from a class called amphetamines. Legally, it can be used as a medicine to treat things like ADHD. Illegally, it is used to make crystal meth, a dangerous drug that looks like ice crystals.  Meth is a very dangerous drug with many severe and possibly fatal side effects. Long-term use can cause problems with the heart, delirium, psychosis and many other health issues.

Crystal meth is made from ingredients that are readily available and then cooked in a series of steps. The ingredients in meth are all toxic to humans and capable of causing great physical harm on their own. Ingredients include acetone, ammonia, pseudoephedrine (common cold medicine), hydrochloric acid, lithium, brake fluid, lye, and sulfuric acid.

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What Makes Meth So Addictive?

Meth is more powerful than cocaine. When using it, the meth forces the brain to release a large amount of dopamine and adrenaline. This combination results in a rush and then a high. The use of meth affects the brain’s limbic system. With use, the brain becomes so affected that the need for meth becomes reflexive rather than a conscious choice.

How Does Meth Affect Other Parts of the Body?

Meth abuse has a huge impact on almost every part of the human body. It can cause teeth problems, skin infections, and a weakened immune system. Meth abuse can cause you to have severe anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, and brain damage. Additionally, meth abuse takes a profound toll on heart health.

The Effects of Meth on the Heart and Heartbeat

Meth abuse can affect the heart in several ways. Since it is a stimulant, it can cause rapid heart rate, changes in blood pressure, strain on the heart, and even cause strokes. This can be fatal.

Meth use will affect your heartbeat every time you use it. It is critical to know that when you begin to abuse meth, it can cause you to have heart palpitations. These palpitations are caused when the heart rate races and causes the heart to enlarge and weaken. This cycle can seriously damage the heart.

Abusing meth can also lead to heart arrhythmias. These irregular heart rhythms will cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow. This, in turn, will lead to organ failure because the other parts of the body are not receiving an adequate amount of blood flow.

According to Kim D. Janda, a professor of chemistry at Scripps Research Institute, “Methamphetamine can cause a number of medical complications that haven’t been recognized before… Not only is it addictive, but it can cause a number of complications from cardiovascular to inflammation. It’s a real dirty drug.”

Scientists have discovered that meth abuse creates a chemical reaction between the amphetamine and sugar in the human body. Ultimately, this changes proteins in the body and causes inflammation and antibody responses. This inflammation is damaging to the heart, as the inflammation adds stress on the heart and contributes to heart damage.

How Meth Interferes With Your Blood Pressure

Since meth is a stimulant, it also greatly affects the blood pressure. It is common for meth abusers to have very high blood pressure. This is due to the constriction of blood vessels as the heart is enlarging and trying to pump blood through the circulatory system. This is a dangerous and damaging scenario.

This stress on the arteries can cause strokes, heart attacks, damaged arteries and, in some cases, ruptured aortas.

Other Adverse Effects of Meth Use

In addition to the strain on the heart and circulatory system, there are other serious side effects with meth abuse, such as dental issues. Meth users tend to lose teeth and have gum decay, a condition often referred to as “meth mouth.”

It is also not uncommon for long-term meth abusers to develop psychosis and changes in brain function. They may also suffer from hallucinations or changes in cognitive skills. Meth abusers may also experience mood disturbances and aggressive and violent behavior.

Substance Abuse Treatment

With any addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step. However, with meth abuse, a detailed approach may be necessary to help overcome it. The reality is that meth is very addictive, and repeated use of it can change the structure of the brain. The brain may feel as if it will die without more of it, which can bring on hefty cravings. It is necessary to use a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation and recovery that professional addiction specialists can provide.

A current treatment approach that is considered comprehensive and successful is attending a residential treatment center that can treat the addiction in various ways.  Addiction specialists can help you formulate a treatment plan that may include medicine to help curb withdrawal symptoms, cognitive and behavioral therapy, support groups, and more.   

A treatment plan will often include treatment for you and your family. Meth addiction affects the entire family in one way or another, so offering family counseling can be helpful for getting back to life before addiction entered the picture. This kind of therapy can help everyone to cope with the effects of meth abuse.

Medical Treatment

You’ll also need to be evaluated thoroughly by a doctor. You’ll need to undergo a series of tests to see how your organs are functioning because meth abuse can damage them. A physician can see how you’re doing physically and treat what may need to be treated. They’ll also be able to help you nutrition-wise, offering suggestions on how you can build up your immune system.

When you enter treatment, you will go through a period of detox, perhaps up to a week or more. While in treatment, a physician will monitor your physical health during the withdrawal period.

Abstinence will be the only way for you to stay away from meth. This can be challenging, so remember to celebrate small milestones and keep yourself motivated and inspired. Surround yourself with people who will support you wholeheartedly in and out of treatment.

For those who have a severe meth addiction, attending a residential rehab is your best bet. This way, you have around-the-clock care from addiction specialists and a doctor to help you in getting through the toughest part of withdrawal and recovery. From there, you may opt to attend an outpatient program for continued treatment.  

Conclusion

Meth addiction can happen very quickly and easily. This is because the drug is a powerful stimulant that can change the brain’s structure rapidly. Meth abuse can have devastating effects on one’s health long-term and cause severe and fatal heart conditions.

If you are struggling with meth addiction, please reach out for help today. Do not put this off any longer, as your life may depend on it. Our substance abuse professionals are ready and willing to help you break free from this addiction. Give us a call at 855-534-3574, and let us discuss with you your best option for treatment. We care, and we’d love to help you get your life back.

Sources

ABC News. Methamphetamine Tied to Heart Problems. from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4507700&page=1

Very Well Heath. Crystal Meth Causes Severe Heart Damage. from https://www.verywellhealth.com/crystal-meth-causes-severe-heart-damage-3892537

UNSW. Cardiotoxicity associated with methamphetamine use and signs of cardiovascular pathology among methamphetamine users. from https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/resource/cardiotoxicity-associated-methamphetamine-use-and-signs-cardiovascular-pathology-among

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