Jessica Booth
March 09, 2018 3:59 pm
Getty Image/Jonathan Morgan

A few weeks ago, Kaylee Muthart, a 20-year-old woman from South Carolina, gouged her own eyes out while high on methamphetamine. Muthart went blind from the attack on herself, and her devastating story made national news. Now, only weeks later, Muthart has spoken about her story in an essay on Cosmopolitan in an attempt to warn others about the dangers of drug addiction. As hard as her graphic story is to read, it’s also an important one: Meth is an incredibly addictive and serious drug, with many scary side effects that are deadly.

Sadly, Muthart is far from the only person out there to have a tragic story concerning meth. Just as one example, at the end of 2017, Fergie opened up about her own struggles with meth addiction. In both stories, the young women talk about intense hallucinations and paranoia, but these aren’t the only things that can happen to you when you’re on meth.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant, and common symptoms include increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, a feeling of euphoria, rapid and irregular heartbeat, and increased respiration. These side effects, however, are a walk in the park compared to the extremely serious and deadly side effects that can often occur when using meth. When it comes to drugs, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s always important to be well-informed. Below are some of the deadly side effects of meth that are proof that this drug is never one to mess around with.

1. Violent behavior

Meth affects the central nervous system. When you take it, whether you’re smoking it, snorting it, or shooting it up, it goes to your brain and unleashes a ton of dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good — but so much of it can seriously mess with your mood. Meth, like many addictive drugs, is known to lead to violent behavior, which can lead to hundreds of differently deadly situations.

2. Increased risk of HIV

Meth users are at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV and hepatitis, partly because the drug makes them act impulsively. Users are known to have sex with different people without using protection. People who do meth regularly often being shooting it up, meaning they are usually sharing or using dirty needles. All of these things can lead to a potentially deadly STI like HIV.

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3. Psychosis

This drug doesn’t just negatively affect a person’s physical health — it damages mental health as well. One of the terrible side effects of meth is psychosis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “chronic abusers may exhibit symptoms that can include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.”

These side effects are what led Muthart to gouge her own eyes out. Although she will always be blind, Muthart is lucky to still be alive. According to research, the side effects of meth are also linked to suicide.

4. Organ damage

Using meth can lead to lasting side effects that won’t go away even if users stop taking the drug, like organ failure. According to The Recovery Village, “using meth can damage the liver and increase your risk of developing hepatitis or acute liver failure.” Use of the drug can elevate your body temperature so much that it can cause your kidneys to shut down. Meth can break down muscle tissues that then become toxins that can destroy your kidneys.

Smoking meth causes the toxins to go straight to the lungs, seriously damaging them. Meth can also cause your blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to your lungs and leading to the accumulation of fluid.

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5. Stroke or cardiac arrest

Meth is considered a stimulant, which is why it can cause increased activity and a feeling of euphoria and energy. But that can also have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. It puts stress on your heart with elevated blood pressure. Meth itself can damage and weaken your heart and cardiovascular system, leading to heart attacks and strokes, which can in turn be deadly. According to American Addiction Centers, “Chronic crystal meth use results in decreased circulation, increasing blood pressure and weakening veins. As a result of these changes, a person is much more likely to have a stroke.”

6. Coma

If someone overdoses on meth, they can easily go into a coma… if they don’t have a stroke or heart attack first. According to rehab center Futures of Palm Beach, “When an individual overdoses on crystal meth, the body works overtime to pump blood to the heart. The already elevated heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke. The body can go into shock or coma, causing irreparable damage.”

7. Blood clots

As you may already know, blood clots can cause sudden death. Meth can constrict the blood vessels and the veins, causing blood clots to form. On top of that, The Recovery Village says that “meth can not only create clots, but it’s toxic to your blood vessels, so that can cause rupturing that can then lead to bleeding into the heart.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with drug addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If you require immediate medical attention, dial 9-1-1.