Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug, which means that one of the short-term effects is a sense of euphoria. However, crystal meth does have other short-term effects as well, some of which are not as pleasant and which may be downright dangerous.
Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth
Crystal methamphetamine is created from d-methamphetamine and is injected, swallowed, smoked, or sometimes snorted. It resembles shiny crystal or glass rocks that are usually pale blue-white in color. You often hear that street drugs are bad for you over the long-term, but if you stop soon enough you can reverse some of the health risks. This is not always the case with crystal meth. Crystal meth can be deadly or damaging and may have dangerous physical effects from the beginning.
Elation and Sense of Well-Being
Using crystal meth increases the levels of dopamine in the body and brain which causes the feelings of euphoria. These feelings may be more intense than anything the user has ever felt before. Frequent use makes the brain less able to create dopamine normally because the cells that make the dopamine become damaged. These users will not be able to feel happiness without using meth; this leads to continued use.
Amphetamines have been used in weight loss supplements because they decrease appetite and increase the metabolic rate. Crystal meth has these same effects; some people use meth for weight loss purposes. However, this is a short-term effect because most people develop a tolerance; after this, the weight loss may go away.
Taking meth makes you feel more alert and active, which can wreak havoc on your ability to sleep. Some people may use meth to stay awake to study or work. You may find yourself staying awake for long periods of time, but eventually, you will crash and sleep for several days in a row so that your body has time to recover. Many people take another dose of meth when they wake up which leads to a "binge and crash" use pattern.
People who use meth can experience rapid and violent mood swings; users may move for euphoria to anger or paranoia without any warning. This may go along with changes in nutrition, sleep habits, increased levels of stress, or changes in brain chemistry that may be associated with meth use.
Changes in dopamine, serotonin, and other brain chemicals from meth use may lead to acute psychosis. In these cases, the person may have delusions - false beliefs about what is happening or who one is -- and/or hallucinations where they see things that aren't there. During this time, the person may be a danger to him or herself and others. For some, the symptom of psychosis may last for a long time even after the meth use has ended.
Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
This drug affects the levels of norepinephrine in the body, which leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure. High blood pressure or heart rates could put the user at risk for a heart attack or stroke; if the blood pressure gets high enough, the heart attack or stroke could happen acutely.
Increased Body Temperature
High doses of crystal meth can increase the body temperature to dangerous and possibly lethal levels. In these cases, immediate treatment to lower body temperature is vital to help the person to survive the overdose.
Tremors and Convulsions
Exposure to stimulants like meth - especially at high levels - can trigger seizures in some people. If not treated immediately, these convulsions can lead to death. This can occur in people who don't have epilepsy in the first place.
How Long Do the Effects of Crystal Meth Last?
The effects of crystal meth vary depending on how the drug is taken:
- If it is injected or taken by mouth, the effects can last for 6-8 hours.
- If it is smoked or snorted, the effects can last up to 12 hours.
One of the difficulties in determining the duration of effects is that often users go on what's called a "speed run" or a "binge". This means they'll continually use the drug, so there's a question about how long any short-term effects last. Also, once a drug tolerance has built in an individual, it becomes more difficult to draw a timetable. The amount of crystal meth used in one dose can also affect how long the effects last in the body.
Dangers of Meth
Although these are considered short-term effects, they can have a long-term impact on your body. Some of these adverse changes may get better over time, but for some users, they may not. There is no way to know for sure if you will be one of the people who recovers completely after meth use, so it is best to avoid using it altogether.