Meth - Health effects - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Methamphetamine and Meth Labs
Health Effects

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Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse
Health Effects of Meth Lab Exposure

Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse

Immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine abuse may include:

  • Increased attention and decreased fatigue
  • Increased activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Euphoric feeling and a "rush"
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Convulsions

Long-term (chronic) effects of methamphetamine abuse may include

  • Anxiety and anxiousness
  • Severe weight loss
  • Changes to brain and central nervous system
  • Damage to heart or other major organs
  • Tremor or uncontrolled motor activity
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood disturbances, including homicidal or suicidal thinking
  • Violent and/or paranoid behavior
  • Amphetamine psychosis

Symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Intense drug craving

(Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Research Report on Methamphetamine Abuse, 2002)

Health Effects of Meth Lab Exposure

Health effects caused by exposure to meth lab chemicals which enter the body by being breathed, eaten or absorbed through the skin will depend on the lab process and chemicals used, the amount of chemical and length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed.

Children are especially vulnerable to health effects due to their contact with contaminated surfaces and hand to mouth behavior.

Acute Exposure - Occur over a short period of time. 

  • Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, or burns to skin, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Death could result when exposure is to a particularly toxic chemical or the person exposed is vulnerable.
  • Non-drug users can experience these effects during or immediately after ‘cooking.’

Less Severe Exposures - Can improve when chemicals are gone and with access to fresh air

  • Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue or lethargy.
  • Symptoms have occurred in people exposed to active labs.
  • Symptoms have occurred in people such as law enforcement personnel and other first responders who have entered a drug lab before the site has been cleaned or ventilated.

Chronic Exposures - Exposed over time to chemicals or byproducts in low or high amounts

  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Neurological problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
Updated Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 07:12AM