There is no single threshold for a meth overdose. The amount of the substance it takes to overdose depends on your biology, any polysubstance abuse, and the way you ingest the drug.
Illegal meth use is always dangerous, and in some cases may be fatal. This blog post provides information on the dangers of meth abuse, meth overdose, and how you can leave meth abuse behind to reclaim a safe and sober life.
What Is a Drug Overdose?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an overdose occurs when you use too much of a drug and have a toxic reaction that causes serious symptoms or death.
Acute methamphetamine overdose happens when you take too much meth in a single session. Chronic meth overdose develops when you consistently abuse meth over an extended period, causing long-term damage to your body.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (meth) is a potent stimulant drug that affects your central nervous system. While meth has limited medical uses, it is a highly addictive drug that can cause serious harm to your physical and mental health. Crystal meth is a type of meth that comes in blue, glass-like fragments or rocks.
How Does Meth Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that brain cells send to communicate with other cells. Increased dopamine levels speed up activity in the brain, making people feel more alert, awake, and full of energy. However, it can also cause serious negative side effects, such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and psychosis.
Dopamine also plays a vital role in the human body’s reward system, a pathway in the brain that helps to reinforce life-preserving behaviors. When we engage in a beneficial activity, our brain releases a small amount of dopamine, altering neuronal connectivity along the reward pathway and making it more likely that we’ll repeat the activity.
Taking meth floods the brain with dopamine, hijacking the reward system. Repeated use leads to the strong urges and compulsive drug-seeking behavior that characterize drug addiction.
How Much Meth Does It Take to Overdose?
The amount of meth someone needs to take to overdose varies depending on individual characteristics, the method of ingestion, and whether they mix meth with other drugs.
Some variables that can affect the overdose threshold include:
- a person’s approximate age
- a person’s body mass
- a person’s metabolism
- whether they are swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting meth
- co-occurring physical health conditions
- polysubstance abuse
Unless you are taking methamphetamine exactly according to a doctor’s prescription, there is no safe amount of meth to take. An illegal street drug may be mixed with other substances, so you may not know the real quantity of or combinations of drugs you are taking.
The best way to avoid meth overdose is to avoid any illicit use of the substance and leave meth abuse behind. While this may not be easy, effective addiction treatment and support can guide you to recovery.
Understanding Polysubstance Abuse
Polysubstance abuse is when you abuse multiple psychoactive substances. Polysubstance abuse is extremely dangerous and can increase the risk of overdose on both substances, especially when the effects of each drug reinforce each other.
Currently, a significant proportion of drug overdose deaths involve combinations of methamphetamine and opioid drugs. In some cases, a user may intentionally take meth with other substances. In other cases, cheap but potent synthetic opioids are added to meth without the user knowing, in order to increase its potency.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Meth Overdose
Methamphetamine overdose can cause serious damage to a person’s health and, in some cases, is fatal. Knowing the signs of acute meth overdose can help you spot a potential meth overdose in yourself or others, so you can seek immediate life-saving medical treatment. Common meth overdose symptoms include:
- breathing problems
- low or high blood pressure
- chronic anxiety or paranoia
- chest pain
- coma or loss of consciousness
- intense stomach pain
- aggressive behavior
- personality changes
How Can You Treat Meth Overdose?
Meth overdose treatment aims to alleviate or reverse the symptoms and conditions caused by the drug, such as stroke, kidney failure, or heart attack. Medics may try to help the overdose victim by:
- restoring blood flow to the brain
- restoring blood flow to the heart
- treating organ failure
The quicker someone receives treatment, the greater their chance of full recovery. However, some people may continue to experience paranoia, psychosis, and memory loss even after aggressive medical treatment. If someone experiences a stroke during a meth overdose, they can suffer permanent brain damage.
What Is the Scope of Meth Use and Meth Overdoses in the United States?
- In 2020, drug overdose deaths in the United States reached their highest-ever level, totaling 91,799.
- In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved methamphetamines. About half of those deaths also involved an opioid, especially the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
- In 2020, 2.5 million adults aged 12 or older said they had used methamphetamine in the past year.
Meth Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Meth is a highly addictive drug and addiction can build very quickly. Because meth addiction involves physical changes in the brain that lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior, it can be hard to quit using meth by yourself. Most people who live with meth addiction require effective and long-term treatment to achieve lasting recovery.
The good news is, there is plenty of support available to help you overcome meth abuse and reclaim a sober life. Decades of scientific research have uncovered a range of evidence-based treatment methods proven to effectively support addiction recovery.
Drug addiction treatment options include:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- support groups
- medication-assisted treatment
- family therapy
- dual diagnosis
- complementary therapies such as yoga and meditation
- life skills development
Every individual is different and no one treatment works for everyone. Effective treatment programs usually combine a variety of options, tailored to each client’s needs. They typically offer comprehensive aftercare to support individuals in the months and years following addiction treatment, promoting lasting change.
Begin Your Journey to Wellness With NP Addiction Clinic
NP addiction clinic is a leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Our evidence-based programs combine scientific innovation with compassionate care, promoting holistic healing and lasting recovery. Our expert team works with you to identify the underlying causes of your addiction, developing individualized treatment plans that reflect your unique needs.
At NP Addiction clinic, we believe in healing through connection. We stay by your side throughout the treatment process, starting from our exceptional detox programs and going through to our comprehensive aftercare. We believe everyone deserves to be free from drug addiction, and we will do what it takes to get you there.
If you are living with a meth or stimulant addiction or other substance use disorder, contact us today to begin your journey.