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Meth Overdose

“She goes from one addiction to another. All are ways for her to not feel her feelings,” – Ellen Burstyn

No one takes a substance and hopes for dependence. Many just want relief from the world – the stress of money, responsibility, fear, sadness, and loneliness. Substances like meth can seem to help relieve these feelings, but what happens when you take too much? What happens during a meth overdose?

In 2022, there were over 130 incidents reported throughout the United States involving clandestine labs – secret laboratories that produce substances like meth. Though meth can cause overdoses, this shows that dealers do not have any intention to slow down production of the substance here in the United States.

Clean Recovery Centers understands how meth can take over lives, and just how dangerous a meth overdose can be. Let’s look at the signs and symptoms of meth overdoses and what to do if you spot them.

meth overdose clean recovery center

How a Meth Overdose Occurs

Most of us have heard the term overdose at some point, but often we equate it to substances like opioids. However, an overdose can happen from meth just as easily. What happens during an overdose is the body cannot process how much meth was taken, causing it to build up within the body. While the liver and kidneys attempt to keep up with the detoxification process, the brain and central nervous system continue speeding up. As the overdose occurs, heart attacks, strokes, and seizures may happen, along with other system complications.

how a meth overdose occursEarly Warning Signs of a Potential Meth Overdose

Meth is known for mental side effects, but they can actually be the early signs of a potential overdose. Paranoia and hallucinations are common with meth use, but when they turn to confusion and disorientation, an overdose may be on the horizon. Paired with this is typically a rapid heart rate and increase in body temperature. These side effects can happen during the initial rush of taking meth, but if they continue over the next several minutes, an overdose can occur.

Signs & Symptoms Indicating a Potential Meth Overdose

As we mentioned above, experiencing an increase in heart rate and body temperature are signs of taking meth, but when the person takes more meth, these symptoms can begin to signify an overdose. As heart rate increases, breathing may become more labored, making it difficult for the person to catch their breath. Other symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme anxiety and paranoia
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature)

Dangers During an Overdose

During a meth overdose, the heart and central nervous system are stressed beyond their normal functioning means. Meth raises heart rate while also constricting the blood vessels, making the heart work even harder to pump blood throughout the body. When an overdose occurs, the heart becomes too overwhelmed to keep up and can trigger a heart attack. Heart attacks can be fatal, and in those who have been chronically taking meth, the heart may already be damaged, making a heart attack even more life-threatening.

Hyperthermia can also cause complications during a meth overdose. As body temperature rises, the body responds with failsafe measures to cool down. This would include sweating and signaling to move to a cooler area. Meth can interfere with these systems during an overdose and the body becomes overheated. Seizures and organ damage can result and cause permanent consequences.

Irregular heartbeat can cause more than just heart attacks during a meth overdose. When the heart is not functioning properly, a blood clot can form. Clots can travel anywhere in the body, including the brain. When a blood clot reaches the brain, it blocks blood flow to that specific area, causing a stroke. Strokes can cause lasting damage to the brain including impairment in motor, sensory, and memory functions. If left untreated, strokes can be fatal.

In the Event of an Overdose

A meth overdose is a serious medical emergency and requires professional attention immediately. Unlike opioid overdoses, there is no over-the-counter medication to counteract the effects of meth. One of the biggest challenges with a meth overdose is the mental side effects the person may be feeling. Hallucinations, delusions, and distrust can make it difficult to get the person the help they need. This is why it is imperative to call for medical help for a suspected overdose. They are professionals and are equipped to provide the care needed to prevent a meth overdose from becoming more severe.

Who Is at Risk of a Meth Overdose?

Anyone who takes meth is at risk of an overdose, no matter their age, gender, or ethnicity. Even those taking meth long-term can experience an overdose at any given moment. Meth is commonly taken in a binge and crash cycle, meaning the person takes meth for days on end until the body forces a crash to sleep. During binge cycles, the person may not feel the effects of meth after a couple of hours and proceed to take more. The harm in this is that meth has a half-life of 12 hours. This means that only half of the dose of meth taken will be metabolized over that time. Taking more every couple of hours can overwhelm the body, increasing the risk of an overdose.

Risk Factors Increasing the Likelihood of a Meth Overdose

There are different factors involving genetics and environment that can increase the risk of experiencing a meth overdose. Physical factors include having a pre-existing heart condition or being genetically predisposed to heart complications, having genetic codes that increase risky behaviors, and mixing meth with other substances such as alcohol. Environmental factors include having family members who take meth, having a meth use disorder yourself, experiencing adversities in childhood such as trauma or abuse, and being exposed to meth at a young age. These factors do not guarantee you will develop a meth use disorder or experience an overdose, but they do increase the likelihood.

Understanding the Common Signs of Meth Overdose

By knowing and understanding the common signs of a meth overdose, you can help someone get the proper care during this emergency situation. Remember, the person experiencing the overdose may not be in their right mind, and intervening without medical training can put you at risk for injury. Call for help and let them know what is going on in the situation. If you know for sure the person took meth, be sure to disclose that information. By being properly prepared with all known facts, the medical team will be able to treat the person effectively and efficiently.

Treatment Options for Meth Use Disorder

Experiencing a meth overdose can be scary and leave you wondering what the next steps are going to be. Meth use disorder doesn’t have to be permanent, and treatment options are available to begin the recovery journey. Rehab for meth addiction will provide you with therapies and classes that show you what led to meth use in the first place and how to use your strengths in the future. Healing begins from within, and choosing yourself over meth is the first step to a brighter future.

If you or someone you love has already experienced a meth overdose, don’t hesitate to reach out before it’s too late. Clean Recovery Centers has an expert team that provides full-spectrum care for meth use disorder. We understand how mental health can play a role in substance use, which is why we offer a tailored treatment path for mental health conditions. Our team can even diagnose conditions at any stage of treatment and provide dual diagnosis care. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About Meth Overdose

Are there any drugs that can reverse a meth overdose?

There are no over-the-counter medications that can reverse a meth overdose. Medical professionals will have the tools and means to treat a meth overdose, which is why help should always be sought if an overdose is suspected.

How can I prevent a meth overdose?

The best way to prevent a meth overdose is to not take meth. This is the only way to guarantee an overdose will not happen.

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