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Meth Addiction | Signs & Symptoms Of Methamphetamine Addiction

Illicit drug abuse raises concerns about your long-term health and well-being. In the case of methamphetamine abuse, the pattern of using the substance in a binge and crash method is particularly dangerous to you or your loved one’s health. 

Meth can cause severe health complications over time, so you want to encourage a loved one to seek treatment when you suspect they may be using this illicit substance.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an illicit stimulant drug that impacts the nervous system of the body. It is a highly addictive substance, and methamphetamine intoxication can lead to extreme euphoria.

Common names associated with the drug include:

Learn more about Nicknames, Street Names, & Slang For Meth

Regardless of the way an individual may refer to the drug, it causes a similar impact on the body. The individual gets a rush or a high that starts quickly and but turns into a sudden crash. 

Methamphetamine Prescription Use

Methamphetamine was originally derived from amphetamine prescription drugs during the 20th century. The problem with the drug was the potency and the risk of addiction.

The drug is primarily used for recreational and illicit reasons; however, it may be prescribed in some very rare situations for ADHD or certain weight-loss treatments. 

It’s important to note that any medical use of the drug is supervised and the dosage of methamphetamine is very low in a legitimate prescription. In most cases, it’s not obtained through legitimate sources or for medical purposes.

Signs Of Methamphetamine Addiction

When you suspect you or a loved one has a methamphetamine addiction, it’s important to recognize the symptoms that may develop. 

Common signs and symptoms of methamphetamine addiction include:

  • loss of appetite
  • pulling or picking at hair and skin
  • changes to sleeping patterns
  • mood swings or violent outbursts 
  • no longer caring about personal appearance or hygiene 
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • sores on the face or body
  • damage to teeth, particularly severe tooth decay

Meth may change an individual’s behavior in drastic and severe ways. If you’re worried about a loved one due to changes in behavior, dilated pupils, sudden and extreme weight loss, or other signs of methamphetamine abuse, then you may want to consider treatment options. 

Learn more about the Signs Of Meth Use

Methamphetamine is very addictive and can cause severe short-term and long-term physical and mental health effects.

Learn more about the Short-Term & Long-Term Effects Of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine Overdose Signs

An overdose on methamphetamine may be life-threatening, so it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you’re concerned a loved one has overdosed on the drug. 

Common signs and symptoms of an overdose on methamphetamine include:

  • seizures or spasms
  • unresponsiveness or coma
  • changes to breathing patterns, such as shallow breathing, not breathing, or difficulty breathing
  • heart attacks
  • stroke
  • a high temperature or fever
  • severe stomach pain
  • hallucinations

Do not wait to seek treatment if you suspect an overdose. If a loved one is unresponsive, starts having seizures, or otherwise shows signs of an overdose, then call for help immediately. 

Be prepared to provide some basic information about the individual’s age, weight, and use history to ensure proper treatment.

Learn more about Meth Overdose

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox

The first step in recovery from methamphetamine addiction is the detoxification process. During the detox process, you or a loved one will experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Due to the potential risks associated with withdrawal from the drug, it’s important to consider a medically supervised detox program that allows you to get immediate care in severe situations.

Common symptoms of withdrawal that may develop include:

  • joint pain
  • flu-like symptoms
  • heart rhythm irregularities 
  • tremors
  • itchy and red eyes
  • headaches
  • depression
  • psychosis
  • severe cravings

The cravings associated with methamphetamine may persist for an extended period after you go through the initial detoxification process. 

Other symptoms of withdrawal may start to alleviate within a week; however, the specific impact may vary based on your health, age, and the duration of drug abuse. 

The primary risk associated with withdrawal symptoms is cravings, which may persist for several weeks or more than a month after discontinuing use of meth.

Learn more about Meth Withdrawal

Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment Options

Meth abuse causes harm to the body and mind. This highly addictive substance may cause psychosis, hallucinations, and violent behavior, so it’s important to seek treatment to address the potential health risks associated with substance abuse.

Treatment options that may assist with long-term recovery goals include:

  • long-term residential care, which surrounds you with others in a structured and supportive recovery environment
  • outpatient care, particularly when you have already completed initial treatment but need to maintain support
  • contingency planning and management to help alleviate the risk of relapse
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which emphasizes changes to behaviors by catching thought patterns that lead to methamphetamine use
  • individual counseling
  • group therapy

Taking measures to treat methamphetamine abuse plays a critical role in the recovery process. By working with experienced and licensed professionals, it’s possible to start working on addressing the causes of substance abuse. 

To learn more about treating methamphetamine addiction, or for more details about our treatment solutions for substance abuse, please contact us today.

Learn more about Meth Recovery & Treatment

Meth FAQ

What Is Meth Mouth?

The term “meth mouth” refers to a group of dental problems often caused by meth. These problems include:

  • bad breath
  • tooth decay 
  • gum disease
  • stained, blackened, rotting, broken, or missing teeth (also called “meth teeth”)

Learn more about Meth Mouth

What Does Meth Look Like?

Meth may resemble:

  • a fine or coarse powder that’s white, brown, orange, yellow-gray, pink, or another color
  • chunks of glass, ice, or shiny, bluish-white rocks
  • round, white pills stamped with the letters OV on one side and the number 12 on the other side
  • a dark yellow liquid
  • an oil, wax, or goo that’s white, yellow, or brown
  • green or reddish-orange pills stamped with the letters WY or R

The drug may also be found in other illegally-made pills that vary in shape, size, and color. 

Learn more about Meth Identification

What Is It Like To Be Addicted To Meth?

When you’re addicted to meth, it’s difficult to think about anything besides getting and using the drug. That’s because addiction makes you feel unable to experience pleasure without meth. 

Addicted individuals also experience tolerance, which means they need increasingly higher doses of meth to feel the desired effects. In addition, they become physically dependent on the drug. If they stop using it, they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms like extreme exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. 

Learn more about How A Meth Addict Thinks & Feels

How Do You Smoke Meth?

Methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth) is usually smoked in a bulb-shaped glass pipe or another container. The drug is heated using a flame until it vaporizes, and is then inhaled through the mouth or nose causing the airborne drug to swiftly enter the bloodstream via the lungs.

Learn more about Smoking Meth

How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

Methamphetamine and its metabolites can be detected by blood screens for up to three or four days using saliva, blood, or urine, and up to 90 days using hair samples.

Methamphetamine has a half-life of between ten and twelve hours. The pleasurable effects of meth may last between four and twelve hours, followed by a recovery period that can last three days to a week or more following use.

Read How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System to learn more

What Is A Meth Lab?

Meth labs are small, household operations that generate methamphetamine using legal medications and a range of toxic or hazardous materials. 

Meth labs (and their occupants) are known to be incredibly hazardous, and the structures often explode or catch fire. Exposure to meth production byproducts or ingredients can lead to poisoning and death.

Learn more about Meth Labs

What Is Shake And Bake Meth?

Shake and bake meth is a type of meth that’s made by mixing meth ingredients (such as pseudoephedrine, lithium, and ammonia) in a sealed container, usually a soda bottle. When someone shakes the container, a chemical reaction occurs and produces meth.

Since some meth ingredients are explosive, the container may explode if its contents are exposed to the air. An explosion can cause serious burns, blindness, and death. 

Learn more about Shake And Bake Meth

Can You Snort Meth?

Yes. Snorting meth powder is one of the most common forms of meth abuse. Most people snort it through a straw, hollowed out pen, or rolled up dollar bill. 

Like other types of meth use, snorting meth can cause serious health problems like high blood pressure, hallucinations, brain damage, addiction, and overdose. 

Learn more about Snorting Meth

What Does Meth Do To Your Skin?

Along with premature aging, meth can cause sores and scabs from excessive itching and skin-picking. 

Many suffering from meth addiction lack proper hygiene, sleep, and nutrition, which increases the risk of infections. The best way to prevent sores and other skin issues is by seeking meth addiction treatment. 

Learn more about What Meth Does To Your Skin

How Does Meth Affect Sexual Function?

When someone starts using meth, they’ll often experience pleasant sexual side effects, such as increased libido, increased pleasure, and stronger orgasms.

However, since meth increases libido and impairs judgment, it can lead to risky sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners. That’s why people who use meth face a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

In addition, long-term meth use can cause unpleasant sexual side effects like decreased libido, delayed orgasms, erectile dysfunction, and fertility issues. 

Learn more about Meth Use & Sex

What Does Meth Do To Your Body?

Meth has a high risk of addiction and can cause several adverse physical effects. Initially, meth can cause increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, and irregular heartbeat. After long-term use, meth can cause tooth decay, skin sores, premature aging, stroke, heart attack, and coma. 

Learn more about How Meth Affects The Body

What Does Meth Do To Your Brain?

Meth impacts the reward center in your brain, eventually causing dependence and addiction. Heavy use causes several damaging effects to your brain, including cognitive function, emotion, memory, and psychological health. 

Although some of these effects can be permanent, abstinence can improve brain function.

Learn more about The Effects Of Meth On The Brain

What Are Meth Mites?

While in a meth-induced psychotic episode, heavy meth users may hallucinate that insects are crawling on their skin or burrowing under it. 

This hallucination, called formication, leads to skin picking and scratching behaviors that can damage skin and contribute to meth face, which describes the rapid aging and persistent skin damage experienced by those suffering from meth addiction.

Learn more about Meth Mites

How Does Meth Use Affect Pregnancy?

Like everyone who uses meth, pregnant women who use the drug may experience serious health problems, such as malnutrition, heart attack, and stroke.

In addition, their babies face a higher risk of issues like premature birth, low birth weight, placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterus), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and neonatal abstinence syndrome (a condition in which a baby experiences drug withdrawal symptoms). 

Later in life, a child who was exposed to meth in utero may experience problems with attention, self-control, and motor development. 

Learn more about The Effects Of Meth Abuse During Pregnancy

How Does Plugging Meth Work?

Because crystal meth dissolves easily in water it can be prepared in a solution and squirted up the rectum using a needless syringe. From there, the drug is rapidly absorbed through the veins and into the blood and brain.

However, plugging meth does not reduce the drug’s addictive effects and can damage tissue or increase the risk of STI transmission.

Learn more about the Effects Of Crystal Meth Rectal Use

How Do You Clean A Meth House?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a contractor trained in meth lab waste removal to help you clean a meth house. 

To make the property safe, you and the contractor will need to:

  • survey it and design a cleanup plan
  • ventilate it
  • schedule a plumbing inspection
  • remove unnecessary, visibly contaminated, and absorbent items
  • wash remaining items with an all-purpose household cleaner
  • vacuum all hard surfaces with a HEPA vacuum cleaner
  • encapsulate all interior surfaces with an oil-based paint, oil-based polyurethane, or epoxies

Learn more about Meth Residue & How To Clean A Meth House

What Is Meth Psychosis?

Meth psychosis is a mental condition that stems from excessive meth use. Symptoms often look and feel similar to schizophrenia, and include violent behavior, hallucinations, and paranoia. Various factors can put you at increased risk for meth psychosis.

Learn more about Meth Psychosis

Can You Vape Meth?

Yes, you can vape meth. Meth powder or pills can be crushed and mixed with vape liquid, which is put into a vape pen and inhaled. Vaping meth is a form of substance abuse, and can be dangerous.

Learn more about Vaping Meth

What Is Meth Cut With?

Some drug dealers cut meth with other drugs (such as fentanyl, amphetamines, and caffeine) to intensify the experience or high. 

However, most dealers cut meth with additives that have little to no effect on the person. These include baby powder, milk powder, baking soda, sugar, and MSM (a naturally occurring compound that’s often sold as a supplement to strengthen cartilage). 

Learn more About Meth Cutting Agents

Can You Shoot Meth?

Both meth powder and crystal methamphetamine can be dissolved into a liquid and injected directly into the bloodstream. 

While shooting up may produce a more powerful high, it increases the risk for dependence and addiction. It can also lead to bacterial and viral infections, track marks, and fatal overdose. 

Learn more about Shooting Meth

What Are The Health Risks Of Cooking Meth?

Making meth can be dangerous. Meth cooks may suffer from breathing problems, chest pain, burns on the skin, eyes, and nose, and other effects. Cooking meth may also cause explosions and house fires, which can be deadly.

Learn more about The Risks Of Cooking Meth

Is Adderall A Legal Version Of Meth?

No, Adderall is not a legal version of meth. While they affect the brain and body in similar ways and are both stimulants, Adderall is a weaker drug than meth. They are often taken and abused for different reasons.

Learn more about Adderall Vs. Meth

How Prevalent Is Meth Use In The United States?

There have been signs of increased meth use in the U.S. over the past decade. More meth seizures from law enforcement, overdose deaths, and other factors are signs of increased meth use in the country.

Learn more about Meth Use In The U.S.

Is It Possible To Identify Fake Meth?

Meth is often cut with various other compounds or faked entirely by drug suppliers looking to increase profits. These diluents and adulterants range from harmless fillers to severely harmful designer drugs.

It is not always possible to visually identify the quality of meth in a particular batch. Chemical tests, including melting point tests and test kits, can provide better (though not certain) information, and scientific testing is the only completely accurate solution.

Learn more about How To Spot Fake Meth

Can You Still Sleep On Meth?

Methamphetamine (meth) produces stimulant effects that include hyperactivity, alertness, and sleeplessness. While under the influence of meth, you may experience severe sleep deprivation during a binge period. 

Learn more about How Meth Abuse Affects Sleep

What Is Liquid Meth?

Liquid meth is meth that has been dissolved in water. It can be swallowed as is, or boiled to turn it back into either crystal meth or powder. Liquid meth is often smuggled across the border to avoid being noticed by law enforcement.

Learn more about Liquid Meth

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - What is Methamphetamine?
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Methamphetamine DrugFacts
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - What Treatments are Effective for People Who Misuse Methamphetamine?
National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Withdrawal Symptoms in Abstinent Methamphetamine-Dependent Subjects
Nurse Plus Academy - Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and Treatment: What You Must Know
WebMD - What are the Signs that Someone is Using Crystal Meth?

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