Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is one of the most destructive substances to the body. While all substance abuse and addiction wreak havoc on the human body, few are as devastating as meth in the same time period.
What is methamphetamine?
Also known as meth or ice, methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually taken as a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like fragments of glass or rocks. Meth can be smoked, snorted, or injected.
Methamphetamine is extremely risky because it increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, reinforcing the behavior by activating the reward center of the brain. While high, users experience euphoria, increased wakefulness, decreased appetite, increased blood pressure and raised body temperature. However, after their first try, users will require more and more of the drug in order to get and maintain the same effect.
Users can get hooked relatively quickly, and withdrawal symptoms can include fatigue, anxiety, and hallucinations. With repeated use, meth takes a huge toll on the mind and body. It robs users of their physical health, looks, cognitive ability, and ability to experience pleasure.
HIV-positive meth users will see the disease progress at an accelerated rate. Additionally, users who inject the drug are at higher risk of diseases like HIV or Hepatitis B and C.
Long-term meth use can cause extreme weight loss, anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations. Overdoses on meth can cause heart attacks, stroke, or kidney failure. One of the most distinctive characteristics of this habit is known as “meth mouth.” This is a catchall term for various effects that frequent use has on one’s mouth.
But, what causes meth mouth, and how long does it take to get meth mouth?
What does meth do to your teeth?
Quite simply, meth eats away at teeth, causing them to disintegrate. After just a few times smoking meth, a user’s teeth will be stained a dark yellow. Because methamphetamine is a made with highly abrasive chemicals, the drug eats away at skin, tissue, and tooth enamel.
Once the protective layer of enamel is gone, acidic traces in meth smoke eat away at the vulnerable teeth underneath. Yellow teeth turn brown and black, while the chemicals reduce the ability to produce saliva. Saliva helps protect teeth by washing away bacteria, so a dry mouth helps speed up the process. Meth use also increases cravings for sugary food and drinks, which also attack teeth. Many users tend to clench or grind their fragile teeth.
Eventually, teeth are rotted all the way to the gum line, which leaves tiny stumps where healthy, white teeth used to be. At that point, meth use causes gum disease, and teeth break off and fall out.
Tooth loss caused by meth use is permanent since teeth don’t grow back. Meth mouth develops very quickly; it’s common for heavy users to lose all their teeth within a year. Sadly, meth mouth is the least of an addict’s problems at that point. The life expectancy of a meth addict averages around five to seven years, so the problem is extremely urgent.
Because of the severity of withdrawal symptoms, many meth users fail when they try to quit cold turkey on their own. However, quitting meth is literally a life or death situation.
If you are ready to be free from an addiction to methamphetamine, please contact an addiction specialist at United Recovery Project, today. We can customize a care plan to meet your needs. Time is of the essence, and we can help set you on the path to recovery.