MAMa FAQ's #14

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More information can be found in Crystal Meth: They Call it Ice.

What are the medical complications from using methamphetamine?

Malnutrition Addicts commonly become malnourished as the drug takes away their appetite. They lose weight; their skin is dry and discolored grey.

They become anemic and lose immune function. and vitamin deficiencies are common. If addicts do not force themselves to eat, they can become walking skeletons or even die of starvation.

Headaches - Meth addicts get severe migraine headaches from using, and they often persist in withdrawal.

Dental problems - Meth Mouth is caused by vasoconstriction in the gums with a decreased blood supply to the teeth, a loss of saliva [ dry mouth] reduces natural cleansing of the teeth, the drug dissolves the enamel on the teeth, and addicts live on sugary soft drinks, fail to brush their teeth and grind their teeth in their sleep.

Lung disease - Addicts get severe lung damage from smoking crystal. A chronic cough is common, and progresses to emphysema. Methamphetamine damages the lining of the airways and damages lung cells much faster and more severely than smoking cigarettes.

Heart Disease - Heart attacks are common on methamphetamine as the drug causes the heart to race and blood pressure to sky-rocket. Chronic use causes heart failure just like old people get, loss of energy, swelling and breathlessness. Addicts develop heart failure at an early age, sometimes in their 30's, requiring heart medications, and even a heart transplant.

Other organs - Blood vessels disintegrate resulting in kidney damage, pancreatitis, liver failure, and rhabdomyolysis - where muscles dissolve and release toxic chemicals into the blood stream. These conditions have a high mortality rate.

Liver - The liver is damaged by the chemicals used to make meth, and many of them are carcinogens. Methamphetamine itself causes liver damage like cirrhosis seen in alcoholics. AIDS and Hepatitis are rampant in methamphetamine addicts.

Infections -Meth addicts are at very high risk to contract hepatitis, from dirty needles or from unsafe sex. Most users carry Hepatitis C, and they commonly die of it. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer. Of the HIV positive people in this nation, 1/3 are IV drug users, and 1/3 of all IV drug users are HIV positive. Meth addicts are often extremely promiscuous which contributes to the spread of these and other sexually transmitted diseases. Immune functions is impaired in meth addicts, even those who do not have AIDS. They are more likely to get pneumonia and they get MRSA [methacillin resistant staph aureus - the flesh eating bacteria] in their 'crank sores'

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