meth addiction signs

Methamphetamine Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive synthetic drug. It has very few medical uses. Meth produces a surge of feel-good chemicals in the brain. This causes an intense euphoria meth abusers continue to chase. Methamphetamine often becomes the central focus in the person’s life. Professional, personal and family obligations fall by the wayside.

Warning Signs of Meth Abuse

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction include:

  • Needing increasing amounts of meth to get the same high
  • Withdrawal symptoms without meth
  • Changes in physical appearance like weight loss, dental issues (“meth mouth”) and skin issues
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit meth on your own
  • Preoccupation with how and when you’ll use meth again
  • Neglecting work, school, family, friends and activities you once enjoyed

People addicted to meth may require professional addiction treatment. Intensive treatment can help with psychological withdrawal symptoms. It can also address meth cravings. Meth users must also learn healthy coping skills. This helps prevent relapse in the face of triggers.

Recognizing Meth Addiction in a Loved One

Meth users’ physical appearance and psychological well-being often change drastically. They may fixate on meth use. This leads them to neglect most other areas of their lives.

Warning signs of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Using methamphetamine without a prescription (meth is rarely used for medical conditions)
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Skin issues like acne or abrasions
  • Physical signs like weight loss, dilated pupils and tooth decay (“meth mouth”)
  • Showing common addiction signs like neglecting work, school or family obligations
  • Financial or legal trouble

If you recognize signs of meth abuse in your loved one, it might be a good idea to speak to a professional. They can help them enter a substance abuse treatment program. Methamphetamine is extremely difficult to quit. Meth abuse can cause long-term physical and psychological damage the longer it continues.

Effects of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine increases dopamine and adrenaline in the brain. This causes more activity, insomnia and less need for food. Smoking or injecting methamphetamine provides a brief rush. Swallowing meth or snorting it can cause a longer high. Sometimes the high will last up to 12 hours.

High doses of methamphetamine are toxic. They raise the body temperature to dangerous levels. They sometimes cause convulsions. Physical and psychological effects of meth may include:

  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Sleeplessness
  • Psychotic features, including:
    • Paranoia
    • Hearing sounds that aren’t there
    • Mood swings
    • Delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin)
  • Thoughts of killing yourself or others
  • Heart problems including:
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Inflammation of the heart lining
    • Heart attack
  • Damage to small blood vessels in the brain that can cause stroke
  • High body temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Damage to blood vessels and skin abscesses from meth users injecting the drug
  • Problems in school, work or personal lives
  • Deformities in babies when pregnant mothers use meth

People that quit crystal meth abuse may experience meth withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Intense cravings for meth

Meth detox in an addiction treatment center can help. Medical professionals ease meth withdrawal symptoms with medications and alternative approaches.

Why Is Methamphetamine So Addictive?

In the beginning, meth users say they feel:

  • Confident and powerful
  • Have limitless energy
  • Are more productivity
  • Have better sex
  • Have less need for food

Many say they feel they can do anything. Meth users that smoke or inject the drug describe a quick, intense sensation or rush. Swallowing or snorting meth causes a longer high instead of a rush. The high can continue for as long as half a day. Binging on meth is one way meth abusers keep the high going. What follows is a difficult “crash.”

Crystal meth abuse causes very high levels of feel-good brain chemicals. This causes a brief but powerful euphoria. Meth users say the high is much more intense than other stimulants like cocaine. People can get hooked on meth after one use because they want the same “high.” The body quickly develops a tolerance to methamphetamine. Meth abusers must take increasing amounts to get the effects they want.

People struggling with methamphetamine addiction may require time in an addiction treatment facility. Substance abuse and mental health professionals can help ease withdrawal symptoms. They can also help manage psychiatric issues.

How Do You Treat Meth Addiction?

Meth addiction is hard to beat. Some research shows relapse rates as high as 88%. However, meth addiction recovery is possible. It requires the right substance abuse and mental health treatment. Effective meth addiction treatments include:

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy are proven approaches. They help people identify unhealthy thinking and behaviors. These thought and behaviors fuel substance abuse. Mental health professionals help substance abusers change thoughts and actions. They can help people improve their overall mental health. Relapse-prevention skill-building and cognitive behavioral therapy are useful addiction recovery approaches.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is effective in meth addiction treatment. This approach offers meth abusers incentives for staying sober. These might include vouchers, free time, phone use and cash prizes. One study compared meth users who regularly participated in contingency management and behavioral therapy to those who didn’t. They found those who regularly participated:

  • Attended treatment more consistently
  • Had more consecutive days without meth
  • Stayed sober longer

Individual Therapy

People that abuse drugs and alcohol often have underlying issues. These sometimes include trauma, relationship problems and mental illness. Meth abuse is no different. Individual therapy is an important part of behavioral health treatment. It helps people identify reasons they abuse meth. Counseling sessions help substance abusers acknowledge the role emotional pain has played in their problems. They can begin healing from those issues.

Family Involvement

Addiction impacts the entire family. Effects of methamphetamine extend to the family of users. Drug abuse can be a symptom of a larger issue in families. Family plays an important role in methamphetamine addiction treatment. Loved ones learn about the disease of addiction. Family members begin to communicate in healthier ways.

Drug Testing

Intermittent drug testing can provide a good motivator for staying sober. It also provides accountability in recovery.

Support Groups

Attending 12-step support groups or 12-step alternatives is an important relapse-prevention measure. These groups provide a “home base” for people in recovery. Connections with peers working on sobriety can help people feel less isolated. They provide a safe space when they’re struggling.

Get Help for Meth Addiction

It’s possible to beat meth addiction. If you or a loved one is abusing meth, call Clarity Way rehab center today. We’ll talk about what’s been going on with you. We’ll answer all your questions about meth addiction treatment options. Reach our recovery advisors at: 888-879-1289


Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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