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Can Meth Kill You?

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Remaining one of the most popular illicit substances for decades, methamphetamine in one of its many iterations, has been the reason millions have reported a life controlling addiction. This powerful stimulant impacts the brain and the body of the person using leading to a lengthy feeling of euphoria. Many seek after this feeling without realizing that along with the feelings of euphoria, the reward circuits of the brain are being impacted causing your brain to strongly desire to repeat this same behavior. This is where the cycle of addiction begins for many, but where it ends can often be unfortunate. Without realizing it, many use methamphetamine under the false pretense that it will not kill you. The unfortunate reality is that this is not the case.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a methamphetamine use disorder, contact Guardian Recovery today. Our centers are available 24/7 to answer questions and assess your needs in order to ensure that you are met with the highest quality of substance use treatment. Contact us directly to learn more.

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What Is the Risk of Death from Methamphetamine Overdose?

A common misconception that many hold to is that it is impossible to overdose on stimulant substances like methamphetamine. Though it does not have the same impact as its opioid counterpart, these powerful illicit substances can also administer effects on the brain and body (1) that are more than the person using is able to handle. The resulting effect is known as an overdose and can have a multitude of unwanted short and long term side effects.

As methamphetamine stimulates the body and brain, systems like the circulatory system are severely impacted. Increased heart rate and blood pressure can be potentially deadly if they reach high enough levels. These detrimental effects can be felt both immediately with a sudden spike as well as long term with the heart slowly losing the ability to recover leading to possible heart attack or stroke.

What are the Factors that Increase the Risk of Death from Methamphetamine Overdose?

One of the frightening truths about overdose is that there is no concise way to determine when it will or will not occur. Though it is impossible to determine every variable that impacts the result of substance use, there are some factors that will play the most significant role. These include:

  • Age of the user.
  • Length of use.
  • Amount ingested.
  • Route of administration (smoking, injecting, snorting, etc.)
  • Preexisting health conditions.

Though no illicit amphetamine use is considered safe, the presence of one or more of these factors will severely increase the chances of a methamphetamine overdose.

How Much Meth Is Required to Overdose?

Similar to the factors that can increase the likelihood of an overdose, these same factors can be applied to determine the amount of methamphetamine (2) that will cause an overdose. A person with a lower tolerance or preexisting health condition will be at a greater risk than a person who does not possess these traits.

Another important factor to consider when determining the amount of meth that will cause an overdose is the substances that may already be present in the body of the person using. The presence of other stimulants will have a compounding effect on meth and the stress that it causes to the systems of the body leading to less meth being required for the user to experience an overdose.

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Can Meth Cause Death When Used the First Time?

A person who uses a substance repeatedly to the point where their body adapts to its presence is referred to as someone who has built a tolerance. The human body is incredibly adaptable and will begin to alter its chemistry and function to adapt to the presence or lack of substances that it regularly comes into contact with.

As someone uses methamphetamine regularly, (3) their body will adapt to its presence resulting in a tolerance being built up. They will begin to understand the amount and route of administration required to achieve the desired effect and the body is able to brace for the impact that this substance will have.

When someone has had no experience with using meth, both their brain and body are not as capable of mitigating the potential side effects. This dangerous state of first time use can be potentially fatal even when using the same amount of a substance that someone uses when they have developed a tolerance.

Can Withdrawal Symptoms From Meth Use Cause Death?

When withdrawing from a potent substance like meth, the body will experience a multitude of unpleasant symptoms in an effort to regulate its systems without the presence of the substance. Though the withdrawal symptoms themselves are typically not enough to kill a person experiencing them, many who suddenly stop using meth may experience complications with any of the symptoms that they incur. Meth interacts heavily with the heart and circulatory system. As this system regulates itself without meth, potentially fatal side effects may occur especially in the event of a preexisting condition.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Death from Methamphetamine Overdose?

A high number of deaths associated with meth use come as a result of heart failure. As this potent stimulant dramatically increases (4) the user’s heart rate and blood pressure, some find that their heart is unable to handle this amount of stress and die as a result. Another common condition brought on by meth use that is potentially fatal is the body’s inability to regulate its temperature (5) correctly. As a person uses meth, the parts of the brain and body that regulate temperature are incorrectly calibrated often causing the user to have an extremely high body temperature. If this persists, the condition can become fatal.

Signs of an Overdose to Look For

If an overdose is suspected, the best course of action is to immediately contact medical professionals to administer life saving care. Unfortunately, many of the life saving medications administered for opiate overdose (Narcan, naloxone) do not have the same impact when the overdose is related to amphetamines. Some of the common symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose include:

  • Racing heart rate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • High body temperature.

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Treatment for Meth Addiction

Quality substance use treatment is crucial now more than ever. With death rates due to overdose rising on an annual basis, families and communities are banning together to provide help to those in need suffering from a substance use disorder. Guardian Recovery is a leading resource for communities throughout the United States. We are committed to the long term success of each of our clients as well as their family and community. If you or someone that you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. Call today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8762891/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430895/
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4043128/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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