Can Methamphetamine Kill You?
Methamphetamine (meth) belongs to a family of drugs known as stimulants. Meth is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that speeds up the body’s system. Meth can be snorted, smoked, or injected. This substance increases the user’s alertness, depression, aggressive behavior, irritability, and euphoric sensations. These effects happen because of increased dopamine production. So, can meth really kill you?
The short and simple answer to this is yes, meth can kill you. In a recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Review, meth use was found to lead to a higher chance of premature death. So you are probably wondering, how does meth kill you? The study found that meth is more cardiotoxic than opioids. This means that meth is very poisonous to a person’s heart. When a person uses meth it has dangerous effects on their vital organs. Meth causes norepinephrine (a chemical in the brain that mobilizes the brain and body for action) to be released into the body’s circulatory system and in the heart. This can lead to cardiovascular collapse secondary to ventricular fibrillation (cause the heart’s lower chambers to quiver) or even cerebral stroke (damage to the brain) and hemorrhage (bleeding) caused by the meth-induced rise in blood pressure. In the study, 10 percent of people died from cardiovascular disease making it the leading cause of natural death. The study also revealed that people who were addicted to meth had a higher chance of dying from cardiovascular disease with 15 percent of people dying from cardiovascular disease. This statistic points to the harmful effects meth can have on a person’s heart.
Meth also has neurotoxic effects from chronic misuse. The illegal substance causes brain damage that impairs a person’s ability to memorize, reason, and feel normal pleasures. It can cause a person to have an increased risk of dying from a stroke. This illicit substance causes higher levels of psychosis, depression, and suicide in people who are dependent on the substance. The study mentioned above also discussed how suicide was the strongest competing cause of death found in people who abuse meth. Suicide contributed to almost one-third of the total mortality. With that being said, suicide prevention programs are necessary to help people safely overcome their meth addiction.
Meth Death Rates
If you are wondering how many people die from meth, your answer is here. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 1.6 million people or 0.6 percent of the population reported using meth in the last year and 774,000 or 0.3 percent reported using meth in the last month. The category of drugs that includes amphetamine increased by 7.5 times between 2007 and 2017. About 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category in 2017. From 2011 to 2016 the number of drug overdose deaths involving meth increased from 1,887 to 6,762 deaths. That is almost an increase of 1,000 deaths from meth overdose every year.
In Washington State, the number of deaths from meth has increased from 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2003 to 7.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018. The death rate was fairly stable from 2003 to 2010 ranging from 1.5 to 1.8 deaths per 100,000 people. But then from 2010 to 2018 Washington State saw a massive increase in meth deaths. The number of people that died per 100,000 people went from 1.8 in 2010 to 7.1 in 2018. In other words in 2003 there were 89 people who died from meth and in 2018 there were 531 people who died from meth. These statistics show how meth deaths are on the rise in Washington State.
According to The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), poisoning either from pharmaceutical or illicit drugs is the leading cause of death in the United States. The study found that in 2015, 52,404 deaths involved drug poisoning and of those deaths 84 percent were considered unintentional. One of the causes of unintentional deaths is an illicit drug named meth. Meth was found to cause an increase in death rates from 5 percent back in 2010 to 11 percent in 2015. This indicates that the number of people dying from meth more than doubled from 2010 to 2015.
How to Help Someone Addicted to Crystal Meth
Let’s recap for a quick second. Can you die from meth? Yes, you can! Meth is extremely dangerous and addiction to this substance impacts a lot of people. The first way to help someone who is addicted to meth is to understand meth withdrawal signs. Meth withdrawal signs often include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and strong meth cravings. Other signs are paranoid ideation (thinking that people are talking about you), red/itchy eyes, sleep difficulties, lack of motivation, memory problems, exhaustion, low energy, decreased sexual pleasure, and increased appetite.
When first abstaining from meth an individual may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and paranoia that withdrawing individuals may experience are caused by the brain adjusting to the lack of the stimulant drug. It is not uncommon for a person to relapse from the drug due to these symptoms being very uncomfortable for the person experiencing them. Even though withdrawing from meth can be extremely difficult, it is the first step to recovering and getting back to a normal, healthy lifestyle. Finding a rehabilitation clinic can really help ease the pain associated with withdrawal and can help someone successfully recover from their meth addiction.
Finding an Addiction Rehab
If you or a loved one is suffering from a meth addiction a high-quality rehabilitation center can help. Inpatient hospitalization or inpatient clinics are mainly used for serious cases of long-term meth addiction. Outpatient clinics are more suited for mild meth addictions. Both forms of rehabilitation clinics use a combination of medications and behavioral therapies to help a person overcome their meth addiction. Currently, there are no medications that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because none of them have been found to be effective. However, behavioral therapies are proven to be effective in helping a person overcome their meth addiction.
Behavioral therapies can include cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, and the matrix model. Cognitive-behavioral therapy challenges a person’s thoughts towards meth or other drugs and helps improve their ability to regulate their emotions. Contingency management uses motivational incentives and tangible rewards to help a person abstain from drug or alcohol use. The matrix model provides structure to an outpatient treatment center through combining behavioral, educational, and 12-step counseling techniques
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- Methamphetamine Trends Across Washington State. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington.
- NCHS Data on Drug-Poisoning Deaths. National Center For Health Statistics.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.