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Methamphetamine (meth) is one of a number of amphetamine-type drugs. Some have medical uses and are made by pharmaceutical companies. However, most meth used in New Zealand is made in illegal ‘labs’. Meth is a stimulant drug available in pill, powder, crystal or liquid forms. It can be swallowed, snorted or injected but is most commonly smoked in a glass pipe or bong.
Meth stimulates your central nervous system to release a large amount of dopamine, a ‘feel-good’ brain chemical. This can make you feel energetic, alert, talkative, and confident. It can also increase your sex drive, and reduce your appetite. If you have a lot or use for a long time without sleep, users can feel agitated, experience mood swings, and see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there (hallucinations).
All drug use brings a risk of harm. Injecting any drug is very risky, especially when needles and injecting equipment (e.g. swabs, needles, and spoons) are shared. Risks include infections such as HIV, hepatitis C, and sepsis, a bacterial infection of your injecting wound. Injecting can also lead to skin abscesses and collapsed veins. Using a wheel filter can help to remove impurities that cause infections.
Use soap and water or alcohol swabs to clean your hands before using. Use your own mouthpiece or pipe to reduce risk of infections.
Use a shatterproof Pyrex pipe. Other pipes (or glass) can get too hot or give off toxic fumes. Avoid using broken or cracked pipes. Damaged pipes can lead to burns, cuts and infections.
Smoking or snorting meth can cause your lips to become dried and cracked, or nose to bleed. This means increased risk of infections, especially when utensils are shared.
Mixing drugs is always risky because it is hard to predict how one drug will affect another in your system. See our Drug interactions section for more about the effects of mixing meth with other drugs.
Take extra care to practice safe sex because meth may increase your sexual desire while decreasing your ability to make good judgements.
Large doses or a strong batch of meth may result in overdose. Overdose can be fatal.
Symptoms of overdose include: high blood pressure, chest pain and irregular/racing heartbeat, convulsions or seizures, difficulty breathing, passing out, extreme agitation and paranoia.
Call 111 if you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms.
You may be experiencing substance use disorder if you are:
If you decide to cut back or stop after using meth frequently, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. MethHelp is an online tool with information and stories of change to help you manage. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your plan and ask them to look out for you and support you. Alternatively, call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 for confidential, non-judgmental advice and referral to a local service provider.
If you are only thinking about cutting back, consider buying less so you use less, delaying your first session of the day, and using a smaller amount than usual.
If you have been using regularly, you might not notice how much your meth use is affecting you. Try asking someone you trust if they think it is having a negative impact.
The production of meth can be extremely dangerous for people ‘cooking’ the drug and those around them. Some chemicals used in the production of meth are poisonous and can explode if not managed properly. They can also contaminate the area where production has occurred. The risks are greater where ‘cooks’ have limited knowledge of the chemical processes involved, or if their judgement has been impaired by drug use.