Molecular model of methamphetamine.

What are harm reduction strategies for people who use methamphetamine (meth)?

Never use alone. Switch to less risky modes of consumption. These are some examples.

There are several ways to practice harm reduction while using methamphetamine.

Use sterile and new equipment.

Methamphetamine can be injected, smoked, or snorted. When possible, people who use methamphetamine should use sterile and new equipment every time. Supplies may include syringes, cookers, pipes, and straws. Using bills to snort can spread bacteria, so it is better to use post-it notes or other clean paper. People should also avoid sharing equipment with others. Reusing or sharing equipment can place users at risk of skin and soft tissue infections and spread diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.

Never use alone.

People should avoid using methamphetamine alone. Using around known and trusted people can help manage any potential feelings of anxiety or paranoia. It also means people are available to call for help in the event of a medical emergency.

Go slow.

People should “go slow,” dilute their drugs, or take a little bit at a time to reduce the risk of an overdose or overamping by accidentally taking too much. It is also advised that people do not take methamphetamine in combination with opioids or depressant drugs, like alcohol. This can increase the risk of an overdose. When methamphetamine is used with other stimulants, it can lead to overamping.

Get some rest, eat, and hydrate.

People who use methamphetamine can often go days without sleeping. Stimulants like methamphetamine can also suppress appetite, so it is easy to go without eating or drinking for several hours. Sleep deprivation and poor nutrition can have negative effects on the body and can increase the risk of overamping. People who use methamphetamine should remember to take breaks to rest, eat, and hydrate.

Switch to less risky modes of consumption.

In some cases, it is helpful to change the route of use to a less risky method. It might be safer to switch to snorting, boofing, or smoking methamphetamine instead of injecting. This can reduce the risk of blood-borne and skin and soft tissue infections. Smoking methamphetamine can dry out the mouth and lips, creating cracks or sores that can increase infections risk; people who smoke should use lip balm, stay hydrated, and avoid sharing pipes.

Strategies for safer chemsex

Chemsex refers to the practice of using drugs to enhance sexual experiences. Chemsex is common among people who use methamphetamine. It is important for people who engage in chemsex while using methamphetamine to carry condoms and routinely get tested for sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy.

Drug checking

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid, is rarely detected in methamphetamine. However, there is a small risk of fentanyl cross-contamination in the unregulated drug supply. This can put people at risk for opioid overdose. People who use methamphetamine should try to have fentanyl test strips available to test their supply before using. Methamphetamine residue must be diluted with more water than other drugs because of the risk of false positives. A half cup of water is enough to properly dilute methamphetamine for accurate fentanyl testing. People who use stimulants should also have naloxone on hand just in case their methamphetamine contains an opioid, like fentanyl.

We need a health approach to methamphetamine (meth).

People who use methamphetamine can face risks, including stimulant overdose or overamping. Learn more about how drug decriminalization and investing in health, harm reduction services, overdose prevention centers, and safer supply can keep people safer.

Reviewed and updated by Jules Netherland, PhD, and Dr. Sheila P. Vakharia on 05/26/2023.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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