Crystal Meth


The hideous look of crystal meth shows on the scarred and prematurely aged faces of those who abuse it. (Photo credit: courtesy Attorney General’s Office, Taswell County, Illinois)
The hideous look of crystal meth shows on the scarred and prematurely aged faces of those who abuse it.
(Photo credit: courtesy Attorney General’s Office, Taswell County, Illinois)

The short-term and long-term impact of the individual

When taken, meth and crystal meth create a false sense of well-being and energy, and so a person will tend to push his body faster and further than it is meant to go. Thus, drug users can experience a severe “crash” or physical and mental breakdown after the effects of the drugs wear off.

Because continued use of the drug decreases natural feelings of hunger, users can experience extreme weight loss. Negative effects can also include disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of power, increased aggressiveness and irritability.

Other serious effects can include insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.1 In some cases, use can cause convulsions that lead to death.

Long-range damage

In the long term, meth use can cause irreversible harm: increased heart rate and blood pressure; damaged blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes or an irregular heartbeat that can, in turn, cause cardiovascular2 collapse or death; and liver, kidney and lung damage.

Users may suffer brain damage, including memory loss and an increasing inability to grasp abstract thoughts. Those who recover are usually subject to memory gaps and extreme mood swings.< p>

Meth Harm


  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses


  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease,3 stroke and epilepsy
  1. 1. paranoia: suspicion, distrust or fear of other people.
  2. 2. cardiovascular: related to both the heart and blood vessels.
  3. 3. Alzheimer’s disease: a disease affecting some older people that is accompanied by memory loss.


  1. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Statistical Bulletin 2008
  2. Interpol report on Methamphetamine, 27 September 2005
  3. “Methamphetamine Facts & Figures,” Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2008
  4. Narconon International information on methamphetamine,
  5. Newsweek, “The Meth Epidemic: Inside America’s New Drug Crisis,” 8 August 2005
  6. State of Hawaii, Office of Lt. Governor news release, 31 October 2007
  7. “County knocks meth use,” 9 July 2008,
  8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration news release, 15 February 2008
  9. United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime report on Methamphetamine, 1998
  10. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System 2007 study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  11. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration report on Methamphetamine, October 2005
  12. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse report on Methamphetamine, May 2005
  13. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2008
  14. “National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment 2008,” National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice