Any use of meth is incredibly dangerous. When the drug is snorted or smoked, it comes with additional risks.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that methamphetamine is a significant drug of abuse. Street meth, or crystal meth, is a privately and illegally manufactured substance that contains numerous additives that can be toxic.
Pharmaceutical methamphetamine goes by the brand name Desoxyn. This is a legitimate medication that can be used in the treatment of narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Meth is a controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and the very real likelihood that individuals taking the drug will develop a physical dependence on it. It is listed in the Schedule II category of controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — a category that also contains drugs like cocaine and the majority of opioids. These drugs have legitimate medical uses, but they are very dangerous if not used under the supervision of a physician.
NIDA and the DEA have documented the mechanism by which meth works. It is a powerful stimulant medication that results in the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Initial feelings associated with methamphetamine use and abuse include:
The medication has a paradoxical effect when used in small doses by individuals with attention issues like ADHD. Meth actually helps these individuals to focus better and lowers their physical activity levels, whereas in people without such a disorder, the drug produces stimulant-like effects.
Abusers of the drug experience dysfunctional levels of hyperactivity and decreased attention, and can even experience hallucinations and paranoid delusions.
According to the latest data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (PDF) (SAMHSA):
Meth abuse produces rapid euphoria, increased energy, and feelings of invulnerability.
People using meth may become irrational and even psychotic, particularly when large amounts of the drug are used in a bingeing fashion. The effects occur rapidly and then dissipate quickly, leading to feelings of:
Because the drug wears off rapidly, individuals will binge on the drug in an attempt to maintain the associated euphoria, energy rush, and perception of heightened awareness.
Two of the most common methods of abusing meth are to grind up shards of crystal meth and snort or smoke them. Another common method of abuse is to inject the drug.
There are major differences between snorting and smoking the drug.
Research has identified numerous physical consequences associated with abuse of methamphetamine.
Withdrawal symptoms when one cannot use the drug
Meth abuse leads to many changes in the pathways of the brain. (PDF) This can lead to numerous cognitive and emotional issues.
The effects of smoking meth can lead to a more rapid cycle of deterioration with significantly more adverse effects in a quicker timeframe, but snorting meth can also produce serious issues at a less rapid pace. Ultimately, it really depends on the person, the frequency and amount of the drug they use, and other issues.
For the most part, individuals who smoke meth will experience these issues at greater levels of severity and more quickly than individuals who sort the drug. However, these negative effects occur in anyone who abuses meth in any manner.
(June 2018). What is methamphetamine? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
(N.D.) Drug Scheduling. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
(October 2018). National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf
(January 2006). Methamphetamine Abuse: A Perfect Storm of Complications. Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 81, No. 1). Elsevier. Retrieved January 2019 from https://facweb.northseattle.edu/lchaffee/PSY100/Journal%20Articles/Lineberry%20et%20al%202006.pdf
(June 2013). Neurologic Manifestations of Chronic Methamphetamine Abuse. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3764482/