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Methamphetamine Overdose & Substance Abuse Treatment

Methamphetamine Overdose Signs, Symptoms, Deaths & Treatment Programs

How Much Methamphetamine Does It Take To Overdose

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. A strong form of the drug is illegally sold on the streets. A much weaker form of the drug is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This weaker form is sold as a prescription. Medicines that are legally used to treat cold symptoms, such as decongestants, can be made into methamphetamines. Other related compounds include MDMA, (‘ecstasy’, ‘Molly,’ ‘E’), MDEA, (‘Eve’), and MDA, (‘Sally,’ ‘sass’). [2]

The New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized an alarming amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl during 2020.  In Fiscal Year 2020, there was a 214% increase in methamphetamine and a 59% rise in fentanyl seized in New York, in comparison to 2019.  These two increases indicate an alarming trend in street drugs and cause concern because methamphetamine and fentanyl are dangerously potent. They are mass-produced by Mexican cartels and are two top contributors to drug overdose deaths in the United States between May 2019 and May 2020. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) Health Alert Network.  [1]

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine [a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder].

Methamphetamine Overdose
The chances of a methamphetamine overdose increase with factors such as high doses, injecting the drug, and mixing with other drugs.
  • An acute methamphetamine overdose occurs when someone takes this drug by accident or on purpose and has side effects. These side effects can be life threatening.
  • A chronic methamphetamine overdose refers to the health effects in someone who uses the drug on a regular basis.

Injuries during illegal methamphetamine production or police raids include exposure to dangerous chemicals, as well as burns and explosions. All of these can cause serious, life-threatening injuries and conditions.

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Signs Of Methamphetamine Overdose

Methamphetamine can kill you. High doses can cause the body to overheat to dangerous levels. Death can result from stroke, heart attack, or multiple organ problems caused by overheating. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and limited medical use.

Meth addiction is a serious worldwide public health problem with major medical, psychiatric, socioeconomic, and legal consequences. According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 14.7 million people (5.4 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at least once.

Meth Overdose Signs and Symptoms

If someone you know struggles with meth effects, getting familiar with the signs of an overdose could one day save a life.

Common symptoms of a meth overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension or hypotension
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia

If someone undergoes a meth overdose, their odds of recovery depend on how much of the drug they took and how quickly they receive treatment. Coming back from a meth overdose is possible, but it is paramount that the person who overdosed receives professional medical attention immediately. Since a meth overdose is a clear sign of an abuse issue, professional addiction treatment should follow once the person is stabilized.

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Methamphetamine Overdose
Knowing the symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose can save your life.

Methamphetamine Overdose Effects

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance. Because the “high” from the drug both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

Meth effects can lead to many damaging, long-term health risks, even when people stop taking meth, including these symptoms:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Anxiety, confusion, and insomnia
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior (psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after meth use)
  • Intense itching, causing skin sores from scratching
  • Premature osteoporosis
  • Severe dental problems 

Deaths From Methamphetamine (statistics for USA)

Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people ages 18-64 in the United States, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, marking the largest one-year increase in overdose deaths ever recorded, according to provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This increase has largely been driven by rising overdoses involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, and particularly methamphetamine, have also risen steeply in recent years, and many of these deaths involved the use of an opioid at the same time. However, questions remain on how trends in methamphetamine use contribute to a greater risk for overdose deaths.

In addition, the data show that people reporting frequent methamphetamine use (100 days or more per year) rose by 66% between 2015 and 2019, and people reporting the use of methamphetamine and cocaine together increased by 60% during this period. The researchers also found that since 2017, more people who reported using methamphetamine in the past year also reported higher-risk use patterns (i.e., had methamphetamine use disorder and/or injected methamphetamine) than reported lower-risk use patterns (i.e., did not meet criteria for methamphetamine use disorder and/or inject methamphetamine). These findings indicate that riskier use patterns may have contributed to the increased numbers of methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths during this time period. [3]

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Methamphetamine Overdose Treatment

Methamphetamine addiction is treatable. Behavioral treatments can help someone stop using methamphetamine and recover from addiction. There are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction. The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies.

There are no FDA-approved medications for stimulant use disorder but a recent study found the combination of injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion was safe and effective in treating adults with moderate or severe methamphetamine use disorder. [4]

Methamphetamine toxicity is best managed by a team of healthcare professionals that include a social worker, addiction nurse, cardiologist, internist or pediatrician, and a mental health counselor. Once a diagnosis of methamphetamine toxicity is made, the patient should be referred to a psychiatrist or a drug addiction center. Patients need to be educated about the potentially life-threatening adverse effects of this illicit agent. Unfortunately, addiction to methamphetamine is one of the most difficult to cure as there is no agent that can prevent abstinence. The majority of patients continue to abuse the drug until they run afoul of the legal system.

Methamphetamine toxicity is a very serious social problem. The addiction is very difficult to stop, and as yet there is no pharmacological agent that can help patients abstain from this illicit agent. Despite referral to addiction clinics, relapses in addiction are common. When the drug is forcibly withdrawn while the individual is incarcerated or in hospital, withdrawal reactions are very common and often require sedatives or anti-anxiety agents.

Deaths from methamphetamine toxicity are common and include arrhythmias, intracranial hemorrhage, and cardiogenic shock. The use of methamphetamine during pregnancy has also been linked to preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction.

The majority of patients come from a subculture that is involved in the manufacture of the drug, and until that environment is changed, the cycle of addiction will continue.

Methamphetamine Overdose
An acute methamphetamine overdose occurs when someone takes this drug by accident or on purpose and has side effects.

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Clearing meth from the body and overcoming withdrawal symptoms is the goal of meth detox, which is the first step of treatment for meth addiction. The We Level Up rehab center comprehensive team may prescribe medications as appropriate under medical care, that can alleviate your withdrawal pains. While monitoring patient health 24 hours during the detox. We prioritize patient safety and comfort because this is can be a fragile and challenging time for most patients.

Once detox is complete, a new doorway for treatment progression opens up, referred to as a residential level of care. The residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual into an atmosphere of therapeutic growth, marked by master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.

Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:

We Level Up treatment tailors the program to the individual and the individual to the program of recovery. We begin by assessing our client’s history of mental health, drugs, and alcohol-related past. The needs of each patient are specific and personalized because we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment. A supportive environment is designed accordingly to give patients 24-hour care for sobriety.

Methamphetamine overdose can be deadly not because of the overdose itself but because of its symptoms. If you just can’t stop using you know you need help. Now. Whenever you need someone to talk to about treatment options to suit your situation, call us.

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