Signs And Symptoms Of Meth Use

Meth is one of the most physically hazardous drugs on the market because of its extreme physical and psychological effects. The Signs and Symptoms Of Meth Use can be seen in several forms in users.

Crystal methamphetamine1 or crystal meth is a highly addictive drug that strongly affects the central nervous system2. Also known as ‘ice’ and ‘glass’ in the party scene, it is seen as clear crystal shards or shiny blue-white rocks. It is swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked with small glass pipes to experience a sense of euphoria. But it is extremely dangerous.

1. What Is Meth Made Of?

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Image by JR from Pixabay

Methamphetamine3 is a synthetic stimulant, unlike plant-grown cocaine. It is manufactured in illegal, secret laboratories. It is made with various forms or derivatives of amphetamine, which is also a stimulant. Several other ingredients like battery acids, drain cleaners, and other toxic chemicals are also used. The manufacturing of meth is dangerous due to the chemicals involved in the process. The toxic chemicals produced in the process can also cause explosions.

Crystal Meth is based on ‘pseudoephedrine4,’ an ingredient in cold medicines that helps ease congestion. Due to the illegal use of this ingredient, the sale of cold medicines is carefully regulated. Legally, methamphetamine is used for treating obesity5 and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is rarely used and available on valid prescriptions only.

2. Signs And Symptoms Of Meth Use

Meth Addiction Signs & Symptoms: How to Tell if a Loved One is Struggling

The abuse or addiction to meth exhibits a variety of physical and behavioral symptoms in its user. A person addicted to meth may be unkempt, with no care for personal appearance, have erratic sleeping patterns, and often borrow money. A few common signs and symptoms of meth 6use are listed below.

2.1. Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use: Physical Symptoms 

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Photo by Goashape on Unsplash

Television shows have shown us different pictures of an addicted person. They may portray missing teeth, scratchy people, and facial sores. Symptoms of meth use shown physically are:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Pupil dilation
  • Tooth decay
  • Decreased appetite
  • High body temperature
  • Breakouts on skin
  • Twitches or tremors in the body
  • Extreme weight loss

There may also be headaches, fast speech, and long periods of not sleeping. These symptoms may also be seen in different conditions other than the usage of meth. Mental health issues, skin conditions, or untreated tooth problems can show similar symptoms. Also, not everyone who uses meth shows these signs.

It is important to keep an open mind to other possibilities before making assumptions about meth usage. If there are any suspicions, talk to the person first and consider a visit to the doctor.

2.2. Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use: Behavioral Symptoms

Meth  Inside Out: Brain & Behavior - The Recovery Process

Meth use can also cause various psychological changes that lead to behavior and mood variations. These symptoms may also be caused by other issues like stress, anxiety, psychosis, and other mental health disorders.

Some behavioral symptoms of meth use include:

  • Paranoia
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive or violent
  • Anxious or nervous
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

A person abusing meth may stay awake for several days and then crash to sleep for many days. There may be signs of psychosis that make the user scratch and pick at their skin, causing abrasions and rashes. Hallucinations which may be, auditory or visual, can also be seen.

The symptoms of meth use on the brain can cause repetitive behaviors like cleaning and fixing objects. In the down phase of meth usage, there is a period of anxiety and insomnia. During this phase, the user may show signs of paranoia7, irritability, and confusion caused due to the desperation to use again.

3. The Dangers Of Meth Addiction

The seriousness of the health risk involved with the use of meth is widely known. But the temptation for its euphoric effects makes people experiment with the drug. The main reason methamphetamine is considered more dangerous than other drugs is the lingering of the drug in the body longer than others. The drug remains unchanged and stays in the brain longer.

Long-term use of meth has been shown to change the brain’s chemistry, destroying the pleasure centers of the brain. The feeling of pleasure is not experienced without the help of the drug. Including all the behavioral changes, meth use can also cause several changes in the blood vessels that may eventually lead to a stroke.

3.1. Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use: First Side Effects 

Side effects of methamphetamine #Shorts

The immediate side effects of meth use can be seen in the first 8 to 24 hours of usage. After a binge of meth use, the user may stay awake for a few days, causing negative side effects including:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Aggression
  • Itchy skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Twitching muscles

There may also be an overdose of meth during the first use. The symptoms of overdose include heat stroke, seizures, and heart attack. Immediate treatment can lead to death.

3.2. Long-Term Side Effects of Meth Use

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Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Long-term usage of meth causes the body to rely on the drug for certain functions. The dependence turns to addiction to meth, which is the most dangerous effect. There are severe physical and psychological health problems of long-term meth use.

Physical symptoms of meth use in cases of chronic usage include:

  • Heart disease
  • Broken or Decaying teeth
  • Kidney failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Skin infections
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Congenital disabilities

Psychological effects of chronic methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Affected cognition

Addiction is dangerous and can deprive a person of life beyond drugs. Long-term use of methamphetamine can cause several health problems which may be irreversible. It is essential to find treatment before a person reaches this state. It is a difficult journey toward recovery, and it is a route that extends throughout my lifetime. A high amount of patience is required and support treatment centers and family or friends.

4. Treating Methamphetamine Addiction

signs & symptoms of meth use
Image by Kleiton Santos from Pixabay

The symptoms of meth use show several effects on a person’s body, mind, and lifestyle. Methamphetamine, like any other drug abuse, also causes severe physical and psychological effects. The dangers of substance abuse are many, but there are also treatment options that help with reducing risk and treating addiction.

4.1. Treatment options

Behavioral therapies have been known to be the most effective in treatment. A few well-known treatment options are:

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

This treatment focuses on changing unhealthy behavior patterns. It includes learning new ways of coping with stress without the use of drugs. It allows a person to realize their actions and adapt to positive, healthy methods.

The Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is a 16-week behavioral treatment including counseling, family education, drug testing, and promotion of non-drug-related activities along with a 12-step component to de-addiction.

Contingency Management Intervention

This is a treatment based on rewards for motivation on abstinence. It is an effective treatment in helping recovery from methamphetamine abuse. This method involves rewards for control from using the drug and motivates the person to learn new habits.

Treating meth addiction is one of the hardest but can be done with proper care. If you know someone showing symptoms of meth use, approach a professional counselor or drug treatment program. Maintaining sobriety and keeping meth addiction at bay is highly essential after completing the rehabilitation program at a treatment center.

The brain damages caused by meth addiction keep sobriety as a lifelong commitment. A few methods to stay sober after completion of rehabilitation are:

  1. Take care of your mental health: Most people start their addiction to meth due to certain situations that imbalance their mental health and cause illnesses like depression, ADHD, or PTSD. A psychiatrist can help with the best diagnosis and form of treatment.
Signs and symptoms of meth use
Photo by Renee Kiffin on Unsplash
  1. Plan for relapse prevention: The temptation to relapse can occur anytime. A plan for it can help prevent the symptoms of meth use and help with recovery. Planning the situations that may tempt relapse and how to handle the situation without the drug is helpful.
  2. Join support groups and rebuild social life: support groups can help regain values and learn healthy lifestyles. To rebuild a social life, start with removing anything related to drugs. That may be a relocation to a new city or a change of friend circle.
  3. Family Therapy Sessions: It is recommended to include family during recovery to provide comfort and motivation to the patient. A team of patients, their families, and our employees at the addiction center help support them during recovery.
  4. Have patience: During recovery from meth addiction, the brain needs to re-learn the sense of pleasure. It can take a long time before one starts to feel themselves again. Patience in this time is essential, along with self-compassion. It is a tough journey, but patience is necessary to stay sober.

5. Covid-19 Risk in Meth Users

Addiction and COVID-19: Study finds link between substance abuse and infection risk

The coronavirus outbreak has challenged the whole world but has proven dangerous, especially for people with substance abuse. The virus primarily affects lung function, and up to 20% of those affected have shown heart problems.

The signs and symptoms of meth use have shown its risk of increasing heart problems like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and decreased ability of the heart to pump blood. Methamphetamine is also known to accumulate in the lungs and other body parts like the brain and heart.

There is a greater risk of getting infected with Covid-19 for those addicted to meth and developing more severe disease symptoms.  It is now more important to seek help for methamphetamine addiction.

6. Conclusion

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly addictive and illegal stimulant drug. It affects the central nervous system and can lead to a range of physical, psychological, and behavioral changes. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of meth use is crucial for early detection and intervention.

The drug can be taken in various forms, such as a white, crystalline powder or in its crystalline form known as “crystal meth.” It can be ingested orally, inhaled, snorted, or injected. Smoking meth, particularly in the form of crystal meth, is often referred to as “ice” or “crystal.”

Methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine in the brain, leading to intense feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and heightened focus.

It’s essential to note that these signs and symptoms of meth use can vary from person to person, and some of them may also be indicative of other health conditions or substance abuse. If you suspect someone is using meth, it is crucial to approach the situation with empathy and encourage them to seek professional help and support.

Early intervention can increase the chances of successful recovery from signs and symptoms of meth use and reduce potential long-term damage to the individual’s physical and mental health.


1. Can meth use cause dental problems?

A. Yes, long-term meth use can lead to severe dental issues commonly known as “meth mouth,” characterized by tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

2. Can meth use lead to overdose?

A. Yes, meth overdose can occur, and it can lead to severe health complications, such as stroke, heart attack, seizures, and death.

2. How can I help someone I suspect is using meth?

A. If you suspect someone is using meth, encourage them to seek professional help and support from addiction specialists, counselors, or healthcare providers.

Read more

Methamphetamine - What You Need To Know
  1. Degenhardt, Louisa, et al. “Crystalline methamphetamine use and methamphetamine‐related harms in Australia.” Drug and Alcohol Review 36.2 (2017): 160-170. ↩︎
  2. Taylor, Christopher L., Warren R. Selman, and Robert A. Ratcheson. “Steal affecting the central nervous system.” Neurosurgery 50.4 (2002): 679-689. ↩︎
  3. Cruickshank, Christopher C., and Kyle R. Dyer. “A review of the clinical pharmacology of methamphetamine.” Addiction 104.7 (2009): 1085-1099. ↩︎
  4. Głowacka, Krystyna, and Anna Wiela-Hojeńska. “Pseudoephedrine—benefits and risks.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22.10 (2021): 5146. ↩︎
  5. Jain, Anjali. “Treating obesity in individuals and populations.” Bmj 331.7529 (2005): 1387-1390. ↩︎
  6. Zweben, Joan E., et al. “Psychiatric symptoms in methamphetamine users.” American Journal on Addictions 13.2 (2004): 181-190. ↩︎
  7. Bullimore, Peter. “The relationship between trauma and paranoia: Managing paranoia.” Psychosis as a personal crisis. Routledge, 2013. 74-85. ↩︎

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