Meth can be used in several different ways, and each method can have different effects and risks. Learn the differences between methods of ingesting methamphetamine.
Knowing the differences in how meth is consumed is important in knowing how the body will handle it and the risks. While there is no safe way to use methamphetamine, different methods can have different risks of infection, illness and overdose.
Methods of Meth Use
Methamphetamine is used in different ways depending on what is available to the person using the drug and based on personal preference. Different methods of drug use can have different effects and should be considered when assessing the risks of meth.
Smoking meth is the most common way of using crystal meth. It is done using a pipe or ‘flute’ and doesn’t require mixing with any other substance. Smoking meth causes the drug to enter the bloodstream immediately, which gives an intense high or ‘rush.’ This immediate effect can increase the risk of addiction and overdose because the instant high makes it appealing to smoke repeatedly.
Smoking meth has been tied with several health problems beyond the risk of addiction and overdose. For example, there has been a rise in the rates of ‘meth mouth,’ an oral health condition that develops as a result of smoking meth and includes tooth decay and stained or rotting teeth. Treating meth mouth can involve removing all teeth and can have a lifelong impact on diet, oral health and appearance.
Snorting meth generally produces feelings of euphoria as it is absorbed into the body. Even though the effects aren’t felt as instantly as injecting or smoking meth, it only takes several minutes to feel high when snorting meth. To use meth in this way, the crystals are crushed into a fine powder that can be inhaled easily through the nose.
Some people may snort the drug because they believe the risk of contracting diseases or future health problems is lower compared to injecting it. However, snorting it can cause long term damage to sinuses, chronic nosebleeds and damage to nasal tissue.
Injecting meth is done by diluting crystal meth from powder form into a liquid and injecting it directly into the bloodstream. Survey results have shown that injecting meth has increased in popularity in the last decade. Injecting meth produces an instant and powerful rush and is a popular method of meth use for this reason.
Injecting meth is extremely risky and is linked with diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. This is a result of sharing needles or using needles that have not been cleaned and carry serious diseases or bacteria. The result of injecting meth can be lifelong chronic illness, as well as an increased risk of long-term substance use disorder.
Swallowing Methamphetamine Pills
Swallowing meth is the slowest acting way to use the drug, and it may take 15-20 minutes to feel the its effects. This can be particularly risky, since someone may think they haven’t taken enough of the drug to produce a high, and they may take more.
Meth pills, often called speed, are regularly combined with other drugs to increase their potency and effect. Taking meth in pill form can increase the risk of a bad reaction or overdose, which can cause long term disability or death.
Meth comes in different forms and can be used differently based on what is available or what a person prefers. Meth is extremely dangerous, and each method of use carries unique risks of complications that can impact health long after the high subsides.
Evren, Cuneyt; Bozkurt, Muge. “Update on methamphetamine: an old problem that we have recently encountered.” The Journal of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences, March 2018. Accessed November 5, 2019.
Al-Tayyib, Alia; Koester, Stephen; Langegger, Sig; et al. “Heroin and Methamphetamine Injection: An[…]ng Drug Use Pattern.” Subst Use Misuse, July 3, 2017. Accessed November 5, 2019.
Degenhardt, Louisa; Charlson, Fiona; Stanaway, Jeff; et al. “Estimating the burden of disease attributable to injecting drug use as a risk factor for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, December 2016. Accessed November 5, 2019.
Yazdani, Reza; Hessari, Hossein; Rahmani, Saeed; et al. “Oral and dental complications caused by methamphetamine use: A review.” Journal of Craniomaxillofacial Research, 2018. Accessed November 7, 2018.
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.