Since meth is a very powerful and addictive drug, it is highly likely that prolonged use of methamphetamines could eventually result in a drug overdose. Long term use of meth leads to an increased tolerance, meaning that the user must take bigger amounts of the drug in order to feel the same effects. This leads to dangerous side effects as higher quantities of the drug may be consumed, possibly in life threatening amounts.
Developing a tolerance to meth greatly increases the likelihood of suffering a drug overdose death. Meth works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the body to artificially high amounts, which encourages the user to consume more of the drug to produce these effects again, and over time, it takes longer quantities of meth to experience these feelings. Eventually, a meth user will not be able to produce dopamine naturally, which only encourages them to continue their meth use.
Other effects that meth consumption can produce include short term side effects such as increased energy and activity, decreased appetite, rapid breathing and heart rate, and increased body temperature. Long term side effects of meth use include memory loss, impaired motor function, paranoia and delusions, skin sores, weight loss, dental issues, sleep disorders, and hallucinations.
Meth is an illicitly manufactured drug that contains many harmful ingredients such as antifreeze, iodine, battery acid, and even kitty litter. Since meth is manufactured in makeshift labs, there is no regulation in the recipe or process and each batch can have differing potency or purity. This adds to the danger of the drug and is a factor in the rate of overdose deaths from meth.
When meth is used in greater quantities and extended periods of time, the risk for a meth overdose increases as you get closer to consuming a lethal dose of methamphetamine. The risk of a methamphetamine overdose also increases when meth is combined with other drugs or alcohol, when meth is injected, when larger doses are taken, or when meth use exacerbates a pre-existing medical condition.
When an overdose occurs, there are several symptoms that can provide signs that someone is experiencing an overdose. These symptoms include dilated pupils, profuse sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and confusion. Other dangerous signs can include an irregular heartbeat, labored or fast breathing, high pulse rate or blood pressure, chest pain, high body temperature, tremors, aggression, paranoia and hallucinations, convulsions and seizures, stroke, or a coma.
Recognizing the symptoms of an overdose is an important step of trying to prevent an overdose from causing death. If the medical response is quick enough, overdose prevention can save a life. However, any damage sustained from the overdose, such as brain damage, psychotic symptoms, or other health consequences may be permanent.
The harmful effects of a crystal meth overdose happen so quickly that there may not be time for an adequate medical response, especially if large amounts were consumed. A factor in why meth overdoses can be so dangerous is that due to the nature of creating meth, it is impossible to know the purity and the potency of the drug.