Skip to main content

How Does Meth Affect the Body?

Understanding where some illegal drugs originate from can be a head-shaking discovery. In the case of methamphetamine, the substance first went into wide use during World War II when it was used by all factions as an effective method of keeping troops alert and awake for days at a time.

It became a problem for the Japanese government after the war ended and the surplus of
methamphetamine was made available to the general public. From there, it grew in popularity
and was eventually introduced on U.S. soil as an effective method of weight loss and combating
feelings of depression.

It remained legal and available over the counter in most drug stores for nearly two decades, until the government finally realized how addictive and destructive the substance was and outlawed its use in the 1970’s.1

Why do people continue to abuse this substance knowing how devastating it is to the mind and body?

Is it because of a lack of understanding, the severity of the addiction, or a combination of both?

While the allure of meth can seem baffling, how meth affects the body in the long-term is all too real.

How Meth Affects the Body

Methamphetamine has both short-term and long-term effects on the body, both of which are remarkably damaging. This highly addictive drug attacks the body on a number of fronts, impacting several crucial organs and causing the user to experience erratic shifts in mood and behavior.

This mood instability is attributed to the fact that meth causes the user to experience spikes of dopamine, which induces feelings of euphoria and invincibility, but invariably results in a sense of hopelessness once the drug wears off.

Over time, this synthetic stimulant destroys a person’s dopamine receptors, making it impossible to feel pleasure at all. Although these pleasure centers may heal over time, research has suggested that damage to a user’s cognitive abilities may be permanent.2

How Does Meth Destroy the Body in the Short-Term?

  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Erratic and volatile behaviors
  • Hallucinations and hyper-excitability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Seizures and death from high dosage

How Does Meth Destroy the Body in the Long-Term?

  • Destruction of tissue in the nose if meth is sniffed
  • Respiratory problems if smoked
  • Infectious disease and abscesses if injected
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease
  • Heart attack, stroke and death

Visible Signs of How Meth Affects the Body

One of the most striking effects of meth addiction is the impact it has on a person’s physical appearance. Since the drug causes the blood vessels to dramatically constrict, the steady flow of blood is cut off to a number of areas of the body.

This causes a meth addict’s tissue to become extremely weak and prone to damage, inhibiting the body’s ability to repair itself and heal naturally. The results of this physical damage is excessive, including:

  • Acne all over the users’ body
  • Sores that cannot heal themselves and become easily infected
  • Obvious loss of skin elasticity resulting in premature aging
  • Gaunt and pale frame due to bursts of physical activity and loss of appetite

Perhaps the most shockingly obvious sign of meth addiction is known as “meth mouth,” which is characterized by severe tooth decay and gum disease. This extensive tooth decay is caused by a combination of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes, resulting in dry mouth and long periods of poor oral hygiene.

Methamphetamine itself is also acidic, which rots teeth down to the root and causes them to easily break apart and fall out of the user’s mouth.3

You Can Quit Your Meth Addiction

While the physically damaging effects of meth are obvious and prevalent, people continue to abuse the drug at a staggering rate. Recent studies have found that meth use has spiked in a
number of states and rural communities, rising at a rate that could surpass the heroin epidemic
currently facing the nation.4

With all of its long-term risk and damaging effects, the question still remains: why do people continue to abuse the drug?

More times than not, addicts are searching for something to make them feel complete, but their efforts are gravely misplaced.

Instead of placing their hopes and fears into the hands of the Jesus Christ, addicts tend to flock to a fleeting feeling that is sure to leave them more lost and hopeless then when they
started their addiction.

Striving to better understand the lies of addiction and the void that it inevitably creates allows a person to see it for what it truly is: a pathway to destruction. But don’t lose faith because no matter how deep an addiction has rooted itself, God can take that weight from around your neck and truly set you free.

Life-Changing, Christian-Based Meth Addiction Treatment at Covenant Hills

Undoing the damage of meth addiction can be messy, extremely uncomfortable and some of the hardest work you do in your life. But, in order to have a life worth living, your addiction must end.

Your mind, body and soul need significant attention and care during meth addiction treatment.

At Covenant Hills, it is our supreme mission to return you to the clean, healthy and productive person God designed you to be. Through our Christian-based meth treatment program, your whole person health will be given individualized attention, and your spiritual journey – whatever that may look like for you – will be supported.

Learn more about our Christian-based meth addiction treatment program, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.


1 Foundation for a Drug-Free World. History of Methamphetamine. Accessed October 11, 2018.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine abuse? Accessed October 11, 2018.

3 PBS. How Meth Destroys the body. Accessed October 11, 2018.

4 CBS News. Twin Plagues: Meth Rises in Shadow of Opioids. Accessed October 11, 2018.