Methamphetamine Use and What It Does to Your Brain and Body

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is an addictive stimulant drug that comes in the form of a powder and can be made into a pill or a shiny rock called crystal. The powder can be eaten or snorted. It can also be mixed with liquid and injected. 

Crystal meth is smoked in a small glass pipe. When a person uses meth, they feel an immediate rush of euphoria, followed by feeling edgy, hyper, angry, or afraid. Meth use quickly leads to addiction and leads to severe mental and physical health problems.

Effects of meth use

Effects of crystal meth

Crystal meth is a type of methamphetamine that is created illegally with dangerous chemicals and can be deadly. Crystal meth is a crystallized, smokable and more potent form of meth. It is a highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. Crystal meth use damages physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Crystal meth can cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, which can lead to stroke. Chronic use of the drug can cause inflammation of the heart lining. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018), “Methamphetamine overdose can lead to stroke, heart attack, or organ problems—such as kidney failure—caused by overheating. These conditions can result in death.” 

When crystal meth is used, a chemical called dopamine floods the parts of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. Crystal meth can make a person feel confident, energetic, and more productive, but extreme paranoia and violence may occur. The psychosis may become permanent or continue as flashbacks. 

Crystal meth use leads to mood disturbances, cardiovascular problems, heat stroke, convulsions, and psychotic symptoms that can last for months or years after methamphetamine abuse has ceased (National Institutes of Health, 2007). Once the initial euphoric effects of the drug wear off, users may experience anxiety, depression, mental confusion, fatigue and headaches.

How crystal meth affects the brain

Over time, the brain develops a tolerance to the drug causing the person using it to take higher doses to achieve the same intense pleasurable effects. This increases their risk of overdose and death. When a person repeatedly uses meth, the drug actually changes their brain chemistry, destroying the wiring in the brain’s pleasure centers and making it increasingly impossible to experience any pleasure at all. The brain tissues can grow back, but the process can take years, and the repair may never be complete.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, examined brain scans of several meth users who abstained from the drug for 14 months. Most grew back most of their damaged dopamine receptors, but they showed no improvement in the cognitive abilities that were damaged by the drug. After more than a year of sobriety, these former meth users still showed severe impairment in memory, judgment, and motor coordination (Frontline PBS, How meth destroys the body).

Treatment for addiction and substance use disorders 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or substance use disorder, get help now. Addiction is isolating and can make you feel helpless, hopeless, and low self-worth, but you are not alone. Addiction is treatable and recovery is possible.

Mental health and substance use disorders often co-occur and need to be treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best outcome in recovery. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Holistic treatment focuses on healing the mind, body, and spirit while helping you transition into sober living. Take the first step toward a new, healthy, fulfilling lifestyle in sobriety and get help today.


Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.