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Why Does Meth Make You Lose Weight?

An upset woman struggling with meth addiction with her hands on her temples  

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is very addictive and can cause several side effects. In teens, meth can make a person lose fat and muscle. This weight loss can be extreme and make someone feel more tired and weak.

Why does meth make people lose weight? Meth can reduce a person’s appetite, destroy muscle, burn extremely high numbers of calories and cause someone to forget to eat. This substance also gives a person sores on their skin, rots their teeth and makes them age faster. Despite all of these negative effects, about 43,000 teens ages 12 to 17 used meth in 2018.

Loss of Appetite

Weight loss from crystal meth is partly due to people not having as much of an appetite. Teens using crystal meth usually don’t get as hungry and aren’t as interested in eating. One study analyzed this issue with fruit flies and found that when the flies were given meth, they developed anorexia and didn’t take in enough nutrients. These flies died sooner than flies that hadn’t had meth.

Does meth speed up metabolism? Surprisingly, no. Metabolism is a process where cells convert calories into energy that the body can use. Crystal meth is a stimulant, which means that it speeds up many of the body’s processes. This effect may make some people think that meth will speed up metabolism as well. However, metabolism requires calories, and if a person isn’t consuming many calories, their metabolism will slow down to make up for it. Teens on meth probably have lower rates of metabolism than people who don’t use this substance.

Muscle Loss

What does meth do to your muscles? If a teen uses meth on a regular basis, they will eventually lose a lot of muscle. This is because the body needs energy to survive. If a person eats fewer calories because of their reduced appetite, then their body will begin to burn fat cells to use the fat as energy. After much of the fat is lost, if a person is still starved, their body will begin breaking apart muscle in order to use protein as a fuel source. Kids using meth may have muscles that slowly waste away.

Excessive Calories Burned

Meth speeds up many body processes. It makes a person’s heartbeat faster, causes them to breathe faster and raises their body temperature. These factors all require more energy, meaning that a teen who uses the drug will burn more calories. Meth and weight loss are also connected because meth can make someone stay awake for many hours or even days at a time. People burn more calories when they’re awake compared to when they’re asleep, so if a teen is sleeping less, they’ll be using more energy.

When this tendency to burn more calories is paired with meth’s ability to lower a teen’s appetite, the end result is fast, extreme weight loss. This type of weight loss usually goes beyond simply dropping a few pounds or going down a couple of sizes and it often makes a person look hollow or gaunt.

Preoccupied with Partying

When teens become physically dependent on meth, their bodies need the drug to function normally. They experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. Additionally, if a person who is psychologically dependent on meth tries to quit, they will have strong cravings and have a hard time staying away. Teens become focused on partying and on finding their next hit. In some cases, people may go on a crystal meth binge and keep taking more of the drug every time their high starts to wear off, for many hours or even several days in a row. When all of a person’s energy goes towards using drugs, there is little left over for eating, sleeping, and taking care of oneself. Kids on drugs will sometimes forget to take a break to eat a healthy meal, which can also lead to weight loss.

It can be very hard to quit using meth or other drugs on your own. Next Generation Village can help teens address their substance use disorder using evidence-based treatment methods. Call us today to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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