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Can You Overdose on Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a potent stimulant drug, which is used both in a controlled setting as a medication and in uncontrolled settings as a street drug. Some medications for Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include small amounts of methamphetamine in order to help patients focus, but the street drug, called crystal meth among other street names, is the most commonly known version and prone to abuse. As a street drug, meth can contain any number of unknown additives, which can be dangerous in themselves. With or without additives, overdose is very possible, and identifying an overdose quickly is vital to a good outcome.

How can someone overdose on methamphetamine?

Crystal meth can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed—making it a very popular drug among those who might find one method of taking a drug distasteful but not another. An overdose happens any time a person takes more of a drug than their body can handle, so the amount can vary from person to person. Any one of these methods can result in an overdose, although it is much easier to overdose from injecting than from swallowing the drug.

In addition, it’s important to note that methamphetamines from dealers are very rarely in their pure form, which means that an overdose can occur from a reaction to the chemicals added to the drug. This is why a person can overdose on methamphetamine without taking a lethal dose. Users may also develop a tolerance for the drug, making it highly addictive; this increases the risks of overdose. For one thing, the concentration can vary from lab to lab and from batch to batch. The user can never be 100% sure what he or she is getting, so an increase in potency is a risk factor for overdose. If the concentration of pure methamphetamine changes, it is very difficult—nearly impossible—to detect without actually doing the dose, so users always risk overestimating how much is needed to get the high they’re seeking.

What Are The Symptoms of Overdose on Methamphetamine?

Crystal meth belongs to the same class of drugs—stimulants—as cocaine and, to a lesser degree, caffeine. Stimulant drugs increase central nervous system arousal; this is why meth users feel alert, and often experience a racing heart among other symptoms when simply taki ng the drug. The action of the drug can also produce euphoria. In situations where too much methamphetamine is taken, the symptoms can vary from person to person, but generally include:

  • Confusion and restlessness
  • Aggressive or paranoid behavior
  • Sweating
  • Spots in field of vision
  • High fever
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Arrhythmia of the heart
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden increase in blood pressure
  • Coma

If someone is experiencing an overdose, it is important to get them medical attention as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that their aggressive or paranoid behavior may be a danger to you—but make sure to contact 911 or other emergency services. The variety of overdose symptoms, if left untreated, can result in rapid death for the person who has taken too much methamphetamine. If your friend or loved one who is experiencing an overdose is having a seizure, try to position their head to the side in case of vomiting. A methamphetamine overdose is a very serious problem, and deserves prompt medical treatment.

Doctors will stabilize a patient who is experiencing an overdose, along with potentially using a laxative or activated charcoal to soak up any remnants of the drug if it was taken by mouth and IV fluids. Other medications may be administered to combat erratic or aggressive behavior. Prompt medical attention is the most important factor in whether or not a meth overdose is fatal.

Our articles are written by individuals who have seen addiction up close. They may have watched addiction take a toll on someone they loved or had their own battles with substances, and they write for us to spare others some of that pain and confusion. If you find these writings useful and would like to speak to someone who gets addiction, call us at (844) 826-1700.

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