The side effects are similar to those of amphetamine but they can be more intense. Paranoia and edginess are common with this drug especially when it starts to wear off. The drug effects can last too long for some users, with insomnia lasting as long as 24 hours or more after taking the drug.
Users of methamphetamine also tend to chase the first high they get and extend the experience for considerable periods. This adds to the side effects and makes the ‘crash’ far worse when it comes.
Amphetamines were originally developed as a slimming aid and methamphetamine is an appetite suppressant. This may be considered a benefit for some users but can lead to malnutrition in heavy users. Smoking the drug may also damage the lungs. Snorting may cause some nasal damage. There is strong anecdotal evidence that chronic meth use is damaging to dentition.
Methamphetamine is not physically addictive like heroin; however it can be strongly psychologically addictive. Users can become dependent on using the drug with use becoming more and more frequent; tolerance also develops with users needing to take more to get the same effect. When this happens, the side effects also increase and heavy users can develop ‘amphetamine psychosis’, a condition that may lead to a temporary schizophrenic episode.
The psychological compulsion to reuse methamphetamine is very strong resulting in protracted ‘binge’ using.
This can be magnified by a lack of sleep, which often accompanies heavy use. Withdrawal from high doses can lead to severe depression.
Methamphetamines are often associated with polydrug use (the use of several different drugs over a short period of time, or two or more drugs used simultaneously), often including alcohol. Most stimulant users use some form of ‘come down’ drug, such as cannabis or benzodiazepines/tranquillisers.
Methamphetamines and other amphetamines should not be taken in combination with the group of drugs known as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s), a group of anti-depressants with stimulant action or Ayahuasca, as the mix is potentially dangerous. Check with your doctor if you are not sure whether your prescription medication is an MAOI. Methamphetamine is also contra indicated with the use of retroviral drugs and combination therapies. As meth is perhaps widely used on the gay drug scene, this should be made explicit to at risk individuals.
When methamphetamine is injected and any injecting equipment is shared (needles, syringes, spoons, filters, tourniquets or other paraphernalia), there is a risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C, HIV (which can lead to AIDS) and other blood-borne diseases. These viruses are extremely resilient, and normal cleaning will not eliminate them, particularly in the case of Hepatitis, which can live outside the body in optimal laboratory conditions for three months. People who are infected with these viruses usually appear healthy, and may not develop the disease for years. From the moment someone is infected however, they carry the virus in their blood, and can infect others through sexual intercourse (particularly with HIV) and sharing any injecting equipment, even spoons and filters. The risk of sexual infection with the hepatitis C virus is very small. Methamphetamine can cause damage to the immune system.
Injecting Meth can be dangerous because of variations in purity and because of the compulsive use nature of the drug due to the dopaminergic effects. It can put the circulatory system under intense strain
How you can inject more safely
Those who inject can protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis by always using clean equipment, obtainable from needle exchanges and some chemists, and not sharing with anyone else.