Side Effects & Dangers of Shooting Meth

Dangers of Shooting Meth | Injecting Meth

Methamphetamine (Meth) is a highly addictive stimulant drug associated with serious health and psychiatric conditions. Shooting up meth refers to a person’s decision to inject the substance with a needle directly into the body. This is known as intravenous (IV) drug use. IV meth administrations have become a popular way to take the drug due to the immediate euphoric effect. This also increases a person’s chances of developing a meth addiction.

Injecting Meth

People who shoot meth are more severely dependent on the drug than people who get meth into their bodies through other methods. According to a study published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal, people who inject meth had an 80 percent greater risk of attempting suicide than those who snort or smoke the substance. They were also found to have an increased risk for non-fatal overdose, more likely to engage in HIV risky behaviors, and more likely to experience social stigma.

Vein Damage

Vein damage is one of the many dangers associated with shooting meth. Veins become damaged from IV meth use when a person repeatedly injects the substance into the same vein which causes scarring. Using blunt needles can also damage a person’s vein. When getting meth from drug dealers a lot of the time meth is mixed with other substances. Depending on what meth is mixed with, severe chemical irritation can occur resulting in damage to a person’s veins. If a forearm vein gets stiff or too painful from damage, individuals who inject drugs will use other veins on various parts of the body.

Neck Injection Dangers

People who have a long history of IV meth use often inject into the neck due to having collapsed or damaged veins. According to a study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, injecting meth into the neck is one of the most dangerous injecting behaviors because it increases the risk of damaging a major vein or artery not directly visible at the injection site. Also, veins in the neck tend to be a lot larger than those in the arms and other parts of the body which could lead to an increased risk for circulatory problems or other life-threatening infections. This could lead to complications such as airway obstruction, vocal cord paralysis, and transporting infections to other parts of the body.

Skin Damage

Skin infection is another negative consequence of shooting meth. One example of a skin infection is an abscess, which is a collection of pus that is formed due to contaminants, unhygienic injection practice, frequently injecting the same site without allowing time for the skin to heal, or injecting into the soft tissues outside the vein. Other skin infections are skin ulcers, cellulitis (red, swollen, tender skin, accompanied with a fever), and septic thrombophlebitis (an infection of a blood clot in a vein, may be life-threatening).

Needle Sharing and Risky Behaviors

Injecting crystal meth often leads to people sharing drug paraphernalia. Needle sharing combined with meth’s perceived enhancement of sexual pleasure and the association of its use with unsafe sex practices increases the possibility of getting deadly bloodborne diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who inject drugs accounted for 9% (3,641) of the 38,739 diagnoses of HIV in the United States. Also, in 2016, 4,929 people who injected drugs and were diagnosed with HIV died in the United States.

What is “Ice?”

Meth is available in three different forms known as speed, base, and ice. “Ice” is the purest form of meth and is about 80 percent pure. Whereas speed is typically only 10-20 percent pure. Ice can appear colorless to white crystals or a course like crystal-powder. It can also be found in other colors. Other names for ice are crystal, crystal meth, meth, or shabu. Individuals who decide to use ice typically smoke or inject the substance.

Treating Methamphetamine Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from a meth addiction finding a high-quality rehabilitation clinic can help. The treatment options that are available for meth users are inpatient hospitalization for serious cases of long-term meth addiction and outpatient clinics that use behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and the matrix model. Behavioral therapy helps a person who is addicted to meth identify and change their self-destructive and unhealthy behaviors. The main assumption behind this form of treatment is that since behaviors are learned, maladaptive behaviors can be changed.

Generally, medications and behavioral therapies go hand in hand when treating drug addiction. Currently, there are no medications that have been proven to be effective in treating this disease. However, a recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology gives hope that there will be medications available to help overcome this debilitating addiction in the future. One medication mentioned is the antidepressant drug Bupropion that is currently being used as a treatment to help people overcome their smoking addiction. Bupropion could be an effective medication in relieving withdrawal symptoms and cognitive deficits in early meth abstinence helping individuals reduce their meth use.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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