When a person shoots crystal meth, they inject the drug, commonly into a vein. Sometimes, injecting a drug may mean using a needle to get the drug under the skin (subcutaneous) or into muscles (intramuscular). However, most people who inject drugs like crystal meth do so into a vein because this is the fastest route for the drug to begin affecting the brain. Every other method – smoking or eating, for example – takes a little longer.
- Little need for sleep
- Excitability, anxiety, or paranoia
- Repetitive behaviors, like picking at the skin or hair
- Decline in personal grooming and hygiene
- Dramatic, rapid weight loss
- Erratic, jerky movements of the face and limbs
- Angry outbursts and mood swings
- Hallucinations or psychotic behavior
- Violence toward oneself or others
- Bruising, track marks, or puncture marks on the skin, especially around veins
People who struggle with depression, other addictive behaviors, an eating disorder, or peer pressure may begin using crystal meth. The drug produces euphoria, stimulation, loss of appetite, and increased sociability. Shooting the drug likely means the person is around others who also inject crystal meth, so the culture and social nature of the drug may hold some appeal.
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine shaped in clear, blueish, white, or off-white crystalline rocks. These are commonly crushed and smoked, but they can also be melted in water for intravenous drug abuse. Regardless of how it is consumed, crystal meth has a long-lasting, very addictive stimulation effect on those who take it. The euphoria lasts up to 12 hours, which is much longer than other illicit drugs, including opioids or cocaine.
When the drug enters the brain, it stimulates neurons to release more dopamine. This is an important neurotransmitter closely associated with mood and the brain’s reward system. With excess dopamine in the brain, the individual feels very good; however, when the chemical is reabsorbed as meth wears off, the person will feel depressed and begin craving more crystal meth very intensely. Such rapid and long-lasting stimulation of the brain’s reward center rapidly leads to addiction.
Most people are introduced to crystal meth through smoking the drug; however, many people who develop a tolerance to smoking the drug switch to injecting it. Although smoking is a very rapid delivery method, injecting is faster. Shooting crystal meth may cause a faster high, but it is also more likely to lead to overdose and serious long-lasting harm.
Side Effects from Crystal Meth
When a person struggles with crystal meth addiction, they may show physical side effects like:
- Rapid heartbeat or changes to heart rhythm
- Changes in blood pressure
- Extreme excitability
- Blurred vision
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth
- Changes to skin quality
- Hyperthermia, or raised body temperature
- Flushing of the face
- Excessive sweating
- Physical twitching and tremors
There are also psychological side effects from abusing crystal meth, including:
- Violence toward oneself or others
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive, repetitive behaviors, such as picking at the skin
- Increased concentration and alertness
- Delusions, especially of grandeur or invincibility
- Psychosomatic disorders, or a physical symptom prompted by mental disturbance
The long-term harm from meth – whether the person shoots it, smokes it, or eats it – includes damage to the teeth, psychotic breaks, cardiovascular harm, stroke, and damage to the skin.
Side Effects from Intravenous Drug Abuse
Injecting any drug into a vein, muscle, or under the skin leads to damage. Injecting drugs can cause problems like:
- Destruction and collapse of veins
- Sores around veins or injection sites
- Blood clots
- Bacterial or fungal infections, including on the skin, in the veins, around the heart, and in other organs
Shooting drugs like crystal meth increases a person’s risk of contracting viral infections too. This is because most people who inject drugs do so with others, and this leads to sharing needles. People who share needles to shoot crystal meth or other drugs put themselves at a high risk of contracting hepatitis B and C, HIV, and other blood-borne viruses. Diseases of the skin can also be transmitted this way, and bone infections are more likely to pass among needle-sharers.
Methamphetamine can suppress the immune system, making the progression of viral infections, especially HIV, faster and harder to treat. Worse, people who struggle with addiction to crystal meth are less likely to get the medical help they need for these conditions, in part because their financial focus is on acquiring more drugs and also because they may not care what happens to their health anymore. They may suffer from underlying conditions like depression, which makes them feel worthless. Anyone who struggles with crystal meth, whether they shoot the drug, smoke it, or snort it, can get help ending their addiction, however.
Get Help Ending Crystal Meth Addiction
With oversight from a doctor, detoxing from crystal meth can be safe and effective. A doctor can monitor the individual for physical symptoms of withdrawal and ease the entire experience. Once detox has been completed, the person should enter a rehabilitation program to learn better ways to deal with cravings, stress, and triggers for drug use. In treatment, they can also get the social support they need to stay healthy and maintain ongoing sobriety.