Meth or methamphetamine is an addictive psychoactive stimulant that produces euphoric side effects in users. It may be sold in powder form, clear crystal chunks, or shiny blue-white rocks (this form of meth is called crystal methamphetamine.) Crystal meth, also known as “ice” or “glass,” is usually smoked with a small glass pipe but can also be swallowed, snorted, or injected into the vein. Although this drug has many side effects, today we’re going to answer this question: how does crystal meth affect diabetes?
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar or glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream.
When your blood sugar levels or glucose levels go up, it tells your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins by promoting the absorption of sugar from the blood into the liver, fat, and muscles.
People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin their bodies make. When there isn’t enough insulin or your cells stop responding to the insulin your body makes, too much glucose stays in the bloodstream.
There are several types of diabetes:
- Type 1: Type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune reaction, inhibiting the body from making insulin. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop quickly, and the condition is normally diagnosed in children, adolescents, and young adults. People with this type of diabetes have to take insulin every day to survive.
- Type 2: When you have type 2 diabetes, your body can’t use the insulin you do produce well enough to keep your blood sugar at normal levels. This is the most common form of diabetes, and it usually develops over many years. It can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle, losing weight, eating healthy food, and exercising.
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before. Although it usually goes away after pregnancy, it can increase the baby’s risk for health problems during pregnancy and increase the mother’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
If you don’t take care of your symptoms, your risk of heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease increase over time. Although there isn’t a cure for diabetes yet, losing weight, exercising, and eating healthy food usually help people maintain their blood sugar levels.
How Does Meth Affect Your Blood Sugar?
The most well-known crystal methamphetamine side effects include severe weight loss, skin disease (meth face), tooth decay (meth mouth), and addiction, but what about its impact on pre-existing conditions like diabetes? Although you shouldn’t use meth in any circumstances, research has found a link between crystal meth and diabetes that highlights the additional risks of meth use for those who struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
One study found that crystal methamphetamine can impact diabetes by inhibiting cells from absorbing glucose, which is a major problem for people with diabetes.1 Insulin is important because it allows cells to absorb and use glucose for energy.
In people with diabetes who either can’t use their insulin or don’t produce enough, the cells can’t absorb glucose. When glucose isn’t absorbed by cells, it builds up in the bloodstream, spiking your blood sugar levels.
Additionally, crystal meth can also affect diabetes by affecting your hormones. Meth directly impacts the pituitary gland, which is a small gland that sits underneath the brain and behind the bridge of the nose.
The pituitary gland releases certain hormones depending on the body’s needs. When someone uses meth, it activates the pituitary gland in addition to brain regions like the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands, which play a major role in the development of addiction.
When meth activates the pituitary gland, glucocorticoids are released. Glucocorticoids are known to exacerbate or worsen symptoms of diabetes in those who have been diagnosed.2 For this reason, crystal methamphetamine abuse can also increase a user’s risk of developing diabetes.
Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment
Not only is there an evident link between recreational drugs and diabetes, but there are many other things that can go wrong when abusing drugs like meth for long periods. In addition to worsening symptoms of diabetes, people who abuse crystal meth often develop a physical dependence and addiction to the drug.
Long-term use can also lead to skin picking and disease, tooth loss and decay, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and this doesn’t include addiction’s impact on mental health, social life, and relationships. If you’re looking to quit crystal meth, our Clearbrook rehab can help.
We usually start our patients off with a medically monitored detox to help them safely get through withdrawal symptoms. We slowly wean patients off drugs or alcohol while administering medications (as needed) to alleviate any uncomfortable withdrawals during this process.
For people with meth addictions who also suffer from underlying health conditions like diabetes, medical detox offers them a safe way to begin their recovery while providing them with the 24-hour care they’ll need to prevent any complications with their diabetes. Once this process is completed, patients can then move on to crystal methamphetamine addiction treatment.
Beginning the journey can be a challenge, but the result is worth it. If you’re ready to begin your journey to an addiction-free life, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 to learn how our Massachusetts drug rehab programs can help.
- NCBI – Methamphetamine Inhibits the Glucose Uptake by Human Neurons and Astrocytes: Stabilization by Acetyl-L-Carnitine