Meth Overdose Facts and Statistics
- Symptoms and Signs of Meth Overdose
- Causes of Meth Overdose
- When to Get Medical Help
- How to Avoid an Overdose
- Treatment for Meth Overdose
- Recovering From Meth Overdose
What is Meth? Can You Overdose?A stimulant drug, methamphetamine (or 'meth') can kill users with dangerous spikes in heart rate, potentially leading to cardiovascular failure.
It can also alter brain function and respiration, causing loss of consciousness, brain damage, and dangerous behavior. If you or someone you love has overdosed, the time to seek help is right this moment.
Symptoms and Signs of Meth Overdose
Meth can cause:
- Organ failure.
- Changes in consciousness.
- Toxic alterations to cardiac rate and rhythm.
Even if you're wrong, you'll lose nothing, but if you ignore an overdose, you could cost your loved one his or her life.
Some signs of a methamphetamine overdose include:
- Aggressive, anxious, angry, or paranoid behavior.
- Delusions or hallucinations.
- Manic behavior.
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia).
- Rapid breathing (tachypnea).
- Loss of consciousness.
- Tremors and seizures.
- GI disturbances--nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Causes of Meth Overdose
It might come as a surprise to those who think of methamphetamine exclusively as an illegal street drug, but it is actually available as a prescription drug for a limited number of conditions, including ADHD and shift work sleep disorder.
Among prescription users--and recreational users who steal or borrow a friend's prescription--exceeding the prescription dosage or taking the drug longer than prescribed by a doctor are key overdose risk factors.
Taking more than the prescribed dosage of meth can result in overdose.
This doesn't mean you have to take large quantities of meth to overdose, though. Even if you've used meth for an extended period without a problem, you can still overdose if:
- The person from whom you purchased the drug mislabeled it or mixed it with other drugs.
- You mix meth with other drugs, especially alcohol or stimulants.
You have a health issue that makes overdose more likely, that undermines nervous system function, or that affects cardiovascular health.
- Endocrine system disorders can change the way your body processes various drugs, and cardiovascular health issues may increase the dangers of overdosing on meth.
- You take more meth than you usually do because of an addiction.
- You take multiple doses too close together.
When to Get Medical Help
A suspected meth overdose is a medical emergency. Now is not the time to spend endless hours scouring the Internet looking for information about overdoses, call 911 immediately.
It's time to seek help if you are experiencing:
- High blood pressure.
- A rapid heart rate.
- Changes in breathing.
- Anger, aggression or any symptoms that are unusual for you.
Some meth users mistakenly believe that by mixing meth with another drug--such a sedatives, alcohol or other depressant drugs--they can reverse an overdose. This is not only untrue; it's also highly dangerous.
Only your doctor can effectively treat an overdose, and even then, it can be challenging.There is no pharmaceutical 'antidote' for stimulant overdose of any kind. Only your doctor can effectively treat an overdose, and even then, it's a challenging undertaking.
If a person you love has a seizure before you arrive at the hospital, gently turn their head to the side in case they vomit. Don't try to move them or hold them still, as doing so could hurt or kill them.
How to Avoid an Overdose
If you're a prescription user of methamphetamine, consider talking to your doctor about whether another drug might be just as effective.
If you continue using meth as a prescription user, you should:
- Monitor your usage.
- Watch yourself for signs of addiction, such as:
- Taking more than the recommended amount.
- Using the drug to get high.
You should always avoid:
- Mixing meth with any other drugs, especially alcohol or other stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall.
- Snorting or injecting meth.
- This can dangerously intensify the meth high and compound the potentially harmful effects that meth can have on your body.
There's no benefit to the recreational use of meth, and plenty of risks.
Treatment for Meth Overdose
No drug can reverse the effects of meth, and it's neither safe nor possible to treat a meth overdose at home.
Instead, your doctor will try to mitigate the symptoms of your overdose. This may include:
- Giving fluids through an IV.
- Monitoring your heart rate.
- Giving you medications to slow blood pressure and ease anxiety.
If you swallowed meth instead of smoking or snorting it, your doctor may give you activated charcoal, a laxative, or both to get the substance out of your body as quickly as possible.
Recovering From Meth Overdose
The recovery journey is heavily dependent on how meth has affected you.
Depending on the severity of the overdose situation, some users may suffer some anoxic brain injury (or 'brain damage') that might interfere with their longer-term functioning or mental health.
Psychotherapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy may help.
If meth has harmed your heart, your doctor may recommend:
- Lifestyle changes.
- Follow-up care.
Often, exercise and a low-fat diet are helpful, but you shouldn't make any lifestyle changes without first consulting your doctor.
A meth overdose can also lead to some minor health problems, including:
- Muscle aches and pains.
With proper treatment, these will disappear over the course of several days.
You may lose weight as part of the recovery process and will need to find healthy ways to regain it if your doctor says you're too thin or undernourished.
In other cases, there are no long-term health consequences, but this doesn't mean you don't need treatment.
Meth is highly addictive, with many recreational users eventually becoming addicts.
Types of Treatment