Treating a Meth Overdose

Meth Overdose

Treating a Meth Overdose

Table of Contents

Meth overdose is a life-threatening issue that can lead to paranoia, anxiety, or kidney failure. Understanding the signs and symptoms is important in prevention.

What is Meth?

According to the NIDA, methamphetamine is a very powerful and addictive stimulant drug. It impacts the body’s central nervous system. Meth is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.1

Street Names for Meth

There are several street names for methamphetamine. Some of those names are as follows:

  • Meth
  • Ice
  • Blue
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Speed
  • White cross
  • Cotton Candy
  • Wash
  • Dunk
  • Gak
  • Pookie
  • Christina
  • Scooby Snax
  • Cookies
  • Chalk
  • Black Beauties
  • Blade
  • Cristy
  • Crystal Glass
  • LA Glass
  • Quartz
  • Shards
  • Tweak
  • Uppers
  • Yellow Powder

Meth vs. Crystal Meth

Meth is the parent drug. All crystal meth is meth, but not all forms of methamphetamine are crystal meth. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that normally comes as a white powdery substance or as a pill. Crystal meth is a purer form of methamphetamine, making it more potent. Normally, crystal meth looks like glass or rocks. The two are also taken differently.

Is Meth Addictive?

Meth is an extremely addictive substance because it boosts the amount of dopamine released in the brain. When someone’s brain experiences these irregular amounts of dopamine, the body starts to want it more and more.2

How is Meth Used?

There are several different ways that meth is used. The method through which a person uses meth will determine the drug’s side effects. Some of the ways to use meth include:3

  • Smoking
  • Injecting
  • Snorting
  • Pill
  • Ingestion

Injecting and smoking meth allows for the most powerful and quickest high.3 It takes 3-5 minutes for snorting meth and 15-20 minutes for ingesting it before the effects of the drug kick in.

Statistics on Meth Addiction

In 2017, around 1.6 million people had used meth in the previous year. Around 774,000 had used it in the last month.4 Methamphetamine use disorder has grown over the past few years as well as overdoses.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use

There are several visible signs of meth use. Many times, it will start with a sudden loss of interest or desire to do things that a person once enjoyed or valued. Some other signs of meth use include:5

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Normally, the drug will reach its peak intensity within a few minutes, depending on how it was put into the body. Meth’s half-life is 10 hours. It will stay within the body for at least four days, and it still shows up in hair tests for up to 3 months.6

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth withdrawal can be difficult because of how addictive the drug is. There are two phases to meth withdrawal. The first one is very intense and lasts for around 24 hours. It will very slowly alleviate over the next week. The second phase is called the subacute phase, and that will last another few weeks. Some symptoms of meth withdrawal are as follows:7
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Severe depression
  • Cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Increased appetite

Meth Side Effects

Short-Term Effects

Some of the short-term effects of meth are as follows:

  • Increased attention span
  • Decreases in fatigue
  • Troubles going to sleep
  • Decrease in appetite
  • A sudden increase in activity and wakefulness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Euphoria
  • Sudden rush

Long-Term Effects

There are also several long-term meth side effects. They include:

  • Changes in the brain structure, chemistry, or function
  • Struggles with thinking or motor skills
  • Struggles paying attention, easy to distract
  • Memory lose
  • Aggression
  • Violent
  • Severe dental issues
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Addiction
  • Mood disturbances

Meth Psychosis

After chronic meth use, meth psychosis may take place. Meth psychosis is a state of mind where reality can become distorted, and a person might experience delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. The disorder will develop over time, and the damages can be irreversible at some points. Some symptoms of meth psychosis are:8
  • Agitation
  • Jumpiness
  • Rapid talking
  • Bouncing from topic to topic
  • Holding conversations that are difficult for other people to follow
  • A belief that other people are trying to harm you or against you
  • Itchy skin or the feeling of itchiness

Meth Overdose Symptoms

In 2018, meth overdose took 67,367 people’s lives. It is one of the leading causes of drug overdoses in the United States.9 If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms after using, seek medical attention right away:

How to Treat a Meth Overdose

The first step in treating meth overdose is by taking someone to the hospital. They will normally give the patient naloxone, which is a reversal drug that helps someone with meth or opioids in their body.9

They will then keep the person in the hospital to monitor their condition. IV fluids, heart monitors, benzodiazepines, beta/alpha-blockers, and anti-psychotic drugs might be used to help with treatment. They will also treat any severe damage such as kidney failure.9

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth withdrawal can be extremely difficult, especially for the first week. It is a good idea to seek to detox in a rehab facility or under the direct supervision of a doctor.


During detox, the medical team will make sure that you are comfortable and give you medications or strategies to deal with detox symptoms. Normally, a mixture of medication and therapy is used to help a patient begin the recovery process.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is very popular when it comes to helping someone stop using. There are not any drugs that get rid of the addiction itself, but doctors will prescribe some to help with symptoms. Some of these substances include antidepressants, mild stimulants, or even antipsychotic medication. MAT will be done under the direct care of a medical professional, and drugs will normally be given in small doses to prevent misuse.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy is popular when it comes to helping someone with meth addiction. With CBT, a patient will learn new coping strategies and ways to deal with stress. It focuses on helping the patient find change within themselves. CBT can often be beneficial when used alongside MAT. Meth overdose is a scary, life-threatening experience that can have long-term damages. If you or a loved one are struggling with meth use disorder, seek out medical help or admittance into a rehab facility. They can give you further instructions on how to seek treatment.



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