Trusted Content

The Dangers Of Injecting Crystal Meth (Intravenous Use)

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

April 19, 2019

Injecting crystal meth is one of the most dangerous and potentially deadly forms of using this drug. A comprehensive treatment program can help people overcome meth addiction and avoid the dangers of injecting crystal meth.

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that is illegal in the United States. Also known as crystal meth, ice, and crystal, this drug has been one of the most commonly abused drugs in the nation since its introduction in the early 1930s.

Due to its stimulant properties, crystal meth is highly addictive. There are also a number of consequences that can come with using crystal meth.

Meth is a synthetic substance that is made and sold illegally. People who make crystal meth commonly combine multiple substances, including pseudoephedrine, to “cook” and produce the drug. The substances used to make meth are not always safe and can be highly dangerous when consumed.

People use meth in a number of ways, including by taking it orally, snorting it, smoking it, and injecting it. While all ways of using this drug are highly dangerous and can result in a number of problems, injecting meth probably the riskiest way.

Why Do People Inject Crystal Meth?

Injecting crystal meth also referred to as “slamming,” produces a more intense and faster high compared to other ways to ingest the drug. People will typically feel the effects of the drug within 30 seconds of injecting it.

Methamphetamine produces an intense euphoric high that can last for several minutes after injecting. After this, adrenaline will rush through the body and produce a more energy-based high that can last up to eight hours.

The effects of crystal meth are similar no matter how the drug is taken, but the intensity in which the effects are felt makes injecting the drug popular. But, while the intensity and quickness of the high may be pleasurable when meth is injected, the adverse effects and increased chance of addiction are not.

What Are The Dangers Of Injecting Crystal Meth?

Injecting crystal meth puts people at an increased risk for a number of dangers and negative side effects. To begin, injecting the drug can quickly increase the tolerance of the individual, causing them to take more and more of crystal meth to feel the same high.

By increasing the amount of meth taken, the person is at an increased risk for addiction as well as the potential health dangers of this drug.

Long-Term Side Effects Of Crystal Meth

Using crystal meth in any form can result in a number of adverse side effects ranging from uncomfortable to deadly. This is especially true when meth is used over an extended period of time.

Some of the most common symptoms experienced include:

  • dilated pupils
  • increased anxiety
  • agitation
  • malnutrition
  • meth sores and meth mouth
  • paranoia
  • teeth gnashing
  • hallucinations
  • psychosis
  • problems with thinking and motor skills
  • memory loss
  • violent or aggressive behavior
  • mood changes
  • changes in the brain’s ability to function

Additionally, people who use meth may have difficulty feeling any pleasure when they are not on the drug. This can further fuel abuse and addiction and increase the chances of long-term side effects.

Health Dangers Of Injecting Crystal Meth

Shooting methamphetamine can put people at risk for a number of additional health dangers. Injecting crystal meth is one of the most dangerous ways to use this drug and can cause health complications and adverse reactions.

A few of the health dangers that injecting crystal meth can result in include:

Infections

This is the most common health problem to arise when a person regularly injects crystal meth. When a person continuously re-opens wounds or uses unsanitary needles, he or she is at high risk for infection at the injection site.

Infections that injecting crystal meth can cause include staph infections (MRSA), skin abscesses, and cellulitis. If not promptly treated, these infections can spread throughout the body and cause potentially life-threatening complications.

Vein Damage

Many people who inject crystal meth use the same veins over and over again. This can cause severe damage to the veins, including scarring and vein collapse.

Additionally, the stimulant properties of meth can result in the veins contracting or shrinking, which can make it difficult to find a vein after the first few uses of meth.

The substances that crystal meth is made with can also be dangerous for injecting and cause inflammation and burning in the veins.

Bloodborne Illnesses

People who inject crystal meth often share needles and other apparatus used to inject the drug. This can put individuals at an increased for contagious and dangerous viruses like hepatitis and HIV.

Addiction

Injecting meth puts people at an increased risk for addiction. The quicker the drug reaches the brain and produces its euphoric effects, the more addictive it becomes. Repeatedly using meth can actually rewire the structure of the brain and result in intense cravings and lack of pleasure without the drug.

Can You Overdose By Injecting Crystal Meth?

Injecting meth puts people at the highest risk for overdosing on the drug. This is because of how quickly the drug enters the bloodstream and affects the body and brain.

Signs of a crystal meth overdose include:

  • heart attack
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • dangerously high body temperature
  • psychotic behavior
  • hallucinations
  • violent behavior

A meth overdose can not only be dangerous, but deadly. If you believe you or someone else has overdosed on meth, seek medical treatment immediately.

Getting Help For Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is highly addictive and can be incredibly hard to stop using on one’s own. A formal and comprehensive treatment program may be needed to successfully overcome meth addiction.

Many people will require a medically monitored detox program to clear meth from the system and ease withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include intense cravings for the drug, extreme fatigue, and depression.

Once a person has successfully withdrawn from meth, an inpatient treatment program will likely be recommended as the next step in recovery. These programs are often considered the most effective form of treatment for addiction and offer intensive treatment and care as well as individualized plans of recovery.

To learn more about the dangers of injecting crystal meth and the treatment options available for overcoming a meth addiction, contact our treatment specialists today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Methamphetamine

Genetic Science Learning Center - Drug Delivery Methods

Georgia Meth Project - The Meth Project: Methamphetamine Facts

Drug and Alcohol Review - Characteristics and harms associated with injecting versus smoking methamphetamine among methamphetamine treatment entrants.

Taylor & Francis Online - Heroin and Methamphetamine Injection: An Emerging Drug Use Pattern

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