Meth and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

Table of Contents

  1. What is Meth?
  2. Dangers of Mixing Meth and Alcohol
  3. Treating Meth and Alcohol Use

What is Meth?

Meth, which is short for methamphetamine, is a strong and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. It is typically prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder. Methamphetamine has been classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning that it has a very high potential for abuse but has some valid medical properties. Crystal methamphetamine is an illicit form of methamphetamine that looks like shiny, white rocks or glass fragments. It is a stronger and purer form of methamphetamine and it has a high potential for abuse.

What Are the Side Effects of Meth?

While there are a few legal uses of meth, meth as well as its more potent form, crystal meth, are typically used recreationally. Meth is abuse by smoking, snorting, or injecting a liquid form of the crystal meth. It is a stimulant, meaning that it causes feelings of euphoria, confidence, well-being, and energy. Along with the high feeling that comes from taking crystal meth, some of the side effects of meth are:

  • Aggression
  • Brain damage
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Circulatory system damage
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Feeling that things are crawling on your skin leading to scratching and wounds
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Nervous system damage
  • Psychosis
  • Severe weight loss
  • Tooth decay

What are the Dangers of Using Meth and Alcohol Together?

Methamphetamines as well as crystal meth are highly addictive. For that reason, methamphetamine is highly regulated in the U.S. as well as illegal in most countries around the world.

Rate of Poly Drug Abuse

Despite that, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over 1.5 million Americans abuse methamphetamine. (1) Additionally, people who drink alcohol almost every day are five times more likely to also smoke meth. In 2017, about 15% of all drug overdose deaths involved meth. (2)

Effects of Mixing Meth and Alcohol

While meth is a dangerous substance on its own, when mixed with alcohol, it can have severe consequences. Many people use alcohol to intensify and enhance the pleasurable effects of meth such as feeling high, relaxed, and buzzed.

Because meth is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, some people use meth and alcohol together to counteract the extreme effects of both. This can create a negative binge-like cycle of using both alcohol and meth one after the other to offset the extreme effects of either substance. The effects of meth last for up to 24 hours making this cycle very dangerous.

Some of the dangers of using both meth and alcohol together are:

 
  • An increase in risky sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex
  • Brain damage
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired judgement and decision making abilities
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased risk of birth defects
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B or hepatitis C through the sharing of needles
  • Increased risk of injury or accidents
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Increased tolerance to both substances
  • Mental health issues
  • Overdose/death
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorder

Treatment Options for Meth and Alcohol Use

Since using meth and alcohol together is quite common, treatment methods need to address both meth abuse and alcohol abuse. When trying to stop using meth and alcohol, you might experience the following withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, insomnia, cravings, confusion, irritability, depression, paranoia, agitation, and seizures. For that reason, meth treatment and alcohol treatment needs to include a medically supervised detox where you are provided with medical assistance, support, and medication to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

After completing a medical detox, various treatment options help to tackle the root of the substance abuse and to engage in coping mechanisms and healthy behaviors to build a healthy lifestyle. These include inpatient and outpatient treatment centers which include counseling and therapy. There are also 12-step recovery programs that help patients to connect with people who are experiencing the same thing.


Resources

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

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