Get help today 888-287-0471 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

The Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

The United States government classifies drugs according to a series of schedules. The government classifies crystal meth as a Schedule II drug because it views the drug as a highly addictive substance. Anyone caught using, transporting, manufacturing or possessing the drug can face high fines and jail time. Despite this risk, some people continue using the drug. It is a type of methamphetamine, which can increase energy in a user. The drug has a number of short-term and long-term effects that can change the way a person acts or feels.

How is it Used?

projectknow-shutter307944914-methThose who use crystal meth often smoke the substance. It comes in a small crystal form that looks similar to crack cocaine. If you have never seen the substance before, you might mistake it for pieces of broken glass. Users typically add a small crystal to a pipe, which lets the person smoke the drug. Others mix the crystals with water to form a liquid version, which they then inject into the skin. Those who inject the drug often have track marks on the arms, legs or other areas of the body.

Various Causes of Abuse

One of the more common of crystal meth’s effects is that it gives users more energy. Some abuse the drug because it reduces their appetites, which can help a person lose weight. The drug is also popular on college campuses and in nightclubs because of the increased energy associated with its use. College students might abuse the drug because it lets them stay up late and study. Others abuse crystal meth because they do not want to sleep as much, so they can stay out late without their late-night partying disrupting their daily lives.

Ways it Affects the Body

You only need to use the drug once to notice the short-term effects of crystal meth use. Every time you introduce a new substance to your body, your body reacts to that substance. You might notice that you feel slightly woozy after taking a new prescription drug, or you might feel nauseous when you take an over-the-counter medication. The effects of crystal meth are similar because you introduce a new substance that your body has never used before. These effects might include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Irritable behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Shaking
  • High blood pressure

As no two users are the same, some users might experience other side effects associated with the drug. Other effects include:

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Anxious thoughts
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Homicidal thoughts

Crystal meth addiction can also cause birth defects in children who are born to women who used the drug during pregnancy.

The Dangers of Prolonged Use

Those who take crystal meth for a longer period can exhibit other crystal meth effects. Some of the more dangerous effects include:

  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage

According to The Partnership at, the long-term effects of crystal meth abuse lead to problems with memory that are similar to the symptoms exhibited by those with Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term users also experience physical signs of abuse such as damaged teeth. Those who smoke the drug can develop sores on the mouth or tongue, and those who use a pipe have an increased risk of tooth decay. The term “meth mouth” refers to broken or otherwise damaged teeth caused by using crystal meth.

Other Additional Effects

The effects of crystal meth can also include hallucinations. The person might feel like something is walking across his or her skin or crawling under the surface of the skin. As he or she picks at the spots, the skin develops scratch marks and gouges. Many long-term meth users suffer from large sores caused by scratching at the skin.

Addiction Treatment Help

The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that children as young as middle school admitted to using crystal meth. The potential effects of crystal meth can appear after someone uses the drug just once. It is important that you get the right treatment for someone addicted to this drug. Call and talk to our specialists. We have access to different treatment programs for you and your loved ones to help ensure an addiction doesn’t take over the life of anyone you care about again.

Did You Know?

  • According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 9 percent of people who sought treatment for drug addiction in 2006 did so because of an addiction to methamphetamine.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 1 million Americans used crystal meth in 2009.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.