Shooting meth brings on the effects almost immediately, but carries significantly more dangers, including organ damage, mental issues, overdose, addiction and death.

Methamphetamine, a stimulant drug with limited therapeutic use, has become a highly addictive street drug. While it has been used to treat ADHD, most meth is illegally produced in small labs and sold on the street as a recreational drug. The resulting drug is highly dangerous and has a high potential for addiction and dependence.

One of the most dangerous ways of using meth is injecting it, also called “shooting” meth. In a recent study of meth users by The Recovery Village, 27% reported using injections.

Injecting Meth

There are a variety of delivery methods that people use to consume methamphetamine, including snorting, shooting, smoking and taking oral pills. Oral ingestion produces a high after 15 to 20 minutes. When meth is snorted, the effects are felt in just 3-5 minutes. Smoking meth produces a quicker, more intense “rush.”

In contrast, injecting meth brings on the effects almost immediately. Sometimes this generates a high even before the needle has left the arm. In contrast to many other drugs that people inject, the effects of methamphetamine continue to last for 4–14 hours. Some people may engage in “binging and crashing,” where they continue meth usage for several days without sleep, followed by a crash and come-down.

Once in the body, the effects of the drug are overwhelming. The dopamine receptors, normally tasked with delivering pleasure in response to the normal joys of life, are awash with a powerful stimulant. Increased dopamine rapidly produces a rush of euphoria, which people using meth seek out repeatedly until they are addicted.

Physical Symptoms

As people inject meth repeatedly, they may experience “track lines” around their injection sites. These are darkened veins along injection paths that can have puncture marks and rashes. Abscesses are also common to those who inject meth. If left unattended, these can lead to loss of limb. Puncturing the skin also opens the skin to infections like hepatitis and HIV. Sharing needles makes these diseases more likely.

Other physical consequences of meth use include:

  • Dental problems, often called “meth mouth”
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Organ damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Psychological Symptoms

In addition to the other consequences of injecting meth, the drug can cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired ability to learn
  • Paranoia
  • Persistent itching
  • Violent behavior

Addiction and Overdose

Injecting meth carries a high risk for physical dependence, addiction and overdose. The chance of overdosing on meth while injecting is high. This is partly because it is harder to gauge the amount going into the body during injection. Smoking, snorting, or orally ingesting meth are indirect methods of receiving the drug compared to injecting it directly into the body.

The large amounts of meth that are injected can lead to death. Even if the overdose is not lethal, the resulting hallucinations and paranoia can cause extreme distress. Repeated seizures and strokes, which occur during or after an overdose, can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.

Treating Methamphetamine Addiction

Recovering from a meth addiction does not have to be a journey taken alone. With help from resources like The Recovery Village, you will be one step closer to a healthier life and a successful recovery. Let our team of trained medical professionals guide you to the best treatment program to address your needs. In time and with support, you too can gain the skills necessary to help overcome your addiction.

If you or a loved one live with methamphetamine addiction or are using meth recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village provides care to those struggling with methamphetamine. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Methamphetamine Package Insert.” February 2015. Accessed November 9, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “What is Methamphetamine?” May 16, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “How is methamphetamine misused?” April 13, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2021.

Volkow, Nora, et al. “Distribution and Pharmacokinetics of […]cal Implications.” PLoS One, 2010. Accessed November 9, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.