meth overdose wolf creek recovery
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In the early 2000s, methamphetamine was known as the “soccer mom drug.” This type of individual — a devoted mother who spent significant time carting her children back and forth to school and extracurriculars — was turning to meth for an energetic pick-me-up.

Fast forward to today, and meth remains a problem. Arizona continues to see huge increases in the amount of methamphetamine coming into the country from Mexico. In fact, smugglers are currently bringing in more than 24 times the amount of product smuggled in 10 years ago. In 2020, officers seized more than 600 packages of drugs, the largest methamphetamine seizure in Arizona port history.

Wolf Creek Recovery offers treatment for meth use disorder in beautiful Prescott, AZ. You’ll spend time working toward recovery while also getting the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and developing healthy habits to fill your time.

Let’s learn more about meth overdose, the signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for, and how to respond to this time-sensitive situation.

An Overview of Meth and Why It’s Dangerous

Meth is a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting powder that can be dissolved in alcohol or water. It can then be smoked, snorted, or injected. Part of what makes meth so dangerous is the chemicals used in its production — things like anhydrous ammonia, drain cleaner, battery acid, lantern fuel, and antifreeze. Due to the toxicity of these ingredients, as well as not knowing purity or strength, meth overdose is a valid concern.

What Is a Meth Overdose?

A meth overdose occurs when a person consumes an excessive amount of methamphetamine, overwhelming their body’s ability to metabolize and eliminate the substance. This leads to toxic levels of meth in the bloodstream, which can cause severe mental and physical health effects. An overdose can happen intentionally or unintentionally, and it can be fatal if not handled immediately.

Early Warning Signs of a Potential Meth Overdose

Recognizing the early warning signs of a potential meth overdose is crucial for preventing severe and potentially life-threatening complications. Early intervention can save lives and reduce the risk of long-term health effects.

signs and symptoms of meth overdose

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Overdose

The signs and symptoms of a potential meth overdose are:

  • Increased heart rate. Noticeably faster heartbeat, often accompanied by palpitations or a pounding sensation in the chest. Some people even feel like they are having a heart attack.
  • Breathing problems. Increased respiratory rate and difficulty catching breath, often with tightness in the chest.
  • Elevated blood pressure. Significant increase in blood pressure, which can be dangerous and lead to further complications.
  • Hyperthermia. Elevated body temperature, often with excessive sweating and a flushed appearance. This can lead to dehydration or heatstroke.
  • Dilated pupils. Enlarged pupils that do not respond to changes in light. This indicates that the nervous system is overstimulated.
  • Nausea and vomiting. Feelings of nausea and episodes of vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Muscle tremors and headache. Involuntary muscle movements, including tremors, twitching, and spasms. Severe headaches.
  • Extreme agitation. Unusually high levels of restlessness, irritability, and agitation. The person may appear overly anxious or nervous.
  • Hallucinations and paranoia. Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there. Heightened feelings of paranoia or mistrust.

Dangers of an Overdose

One of the biggest dangers of a meth overdose is cardiovascular complications. Meth significantly increases heart rate and blood pressure, putting immense strain on the cardiovascular system. This can lead to heart attack, arrhythmias, and stroke. Meth can also cause hyperthermia, or dangerously high body temperature. Prolonged hyperthermia can cause the body’s organs to overheat and fail, potentially leading to death.

Respiratory problems are another concern with meth overdose, as this substance can cause rapid and shallow breathing, which can progress to respiratory distress and failure. Without sufficient oxygen, vital organs can be damaged. Meth overdose can also cause neurological complications, such as seizures, psychosis, and coma. Moreover, the hallucinations and delusions that can occur with meth overdose can also put an individual at risk for self-harm and violent behavior.

How to Handle a Meth Overdose

A meth overdose is a critical medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Recognizing the signs of an overdose and knowing how to respond can save lives. If you suspect an overdose based on the symptoms above, call 911 right away. Provide clear information about the person’s condition and location.

Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them and try to keep them calm and reassured. Staying with the person can prevent them from harming themselves or others. It’s also recommended to bring the person to a quiet, dimly lit area to decrease agitation or paranoia. Minimize noise and activity around them. Monitor their vital signs, paying attention to their breathing, heart rate, and level of consciousness.

There is a chance that you may need to provide basic first aid, such as encouraging them to take small sips of water to stay hydrated or placing them in the recovery position (lying on their side). Do not try to restrain them and do not attempt to induce vomiting. 

Who Is Most at Risk for a Meth Overdose?

Anyone who uses meth is at risk for overdose. Meth is a powerful substance that can cause immediate harm to the body and mind, even after just one dose. However, certain factors can increase the risk of an overdose. Understanding these risk factors can help in prevention efforts and timely support and intervention.

Risk Factors for Meth Overdose

The people most at risk for meth overdose are those who:

  • Use meth in heavy doses or frequencies
  • Engage in binge use — taking the substance repeatedly over a short period
  • Have a previous history of overdose
  • Mix meth with other substances (polysubstance use)
  • Have co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Inject meth directly into the bloodstream
  • Have underlying cardiovascular or respiratory problems

Why It’s Important to Recognize the Common Signs of Meth Overdose

People who use meth open themselves up to the risk of overdose because it’s impossible to know the purity and strength of the substance. Today’s methamphetamine is often cut with fentanyl, and this can make the substance especially dangerous. Understanding the common signs of a potential meth overdose allows you to intervene and save a life. At the very least, you can prevent an individual from harming themselves and others around them. If it’s suspected that the person took a combination of meth and fentanyl, naloxone can be administered to reverse the effects of the opioid.

an overview of meth and why its dangerous

What Are the Treatment Options for Meth Use Disorder in Prescott, AZ?

It’s normal to experience meth withdrawal symptoms as meth leaves the body. Meth addiction treatment involves managing these symptoms first and foremost. Once any withdrawal passes, individuals participate in various therapies to help them understand their triggers, learn new ways to cope, and find healthier ways to spend their time. Cognitive behavioral therapy and incentive-based therapies tend to work best for treating meth use disorder, along with support groups. Medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and co-occurring mental health conditions might also be useful in some circumstances.

If you know someone experiencing meth use disorder, Wolf Creek Recovery can help. Our staff is in recovery and can relate to you and your loved one. We give our clients as many tools as possible to support their recovery and help them build a life they love. Between meditation, yoga, outdoor therapy, creative expression, family therapy, and other behavioral therapies, it’s possible to restore balance and reach healing. Contact our team today at 833-732-8202 to learn more about our programs. 

FAQs About Meth Overdose

What is meth overdose? 

A meth overdose can happen when a person takes too much methamphetamine and it overwhelms their body. As a result, they cannot metabolize or eliminate the substance from their body, leading to mental and physical health complications.

What are the symptoms of meth overdose? 

The most common symptoms of a meth overdose are increased heart rate, breathing problems, elevated blood pressure, elevated body temperature, agitation, delusions, and paranoia.

How should I respond to meth overdose?

Meth overdoses are serious medical emergencies that require immediate attention. If you suspect a meth overdose, call 911 right away. Stay with the person and try to keep them calm and reassured. Do not try to restrain the person or induce vomiting.

Are there any medications that can reverse a meth overdose?

There are no specific medications that can directly reverse a meth overdose in the way that naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose. However, supportive care and treatment to manage symptoms and complications is possible with cardiovascular support, hydration, cooling measures, sedative medications, and monitoring.