Meth Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & When To Get Help

Methamphetamine is a very dangerous substance to abuse. Also known as meth or crystal, this illicit drug can cause an individual to become addicted even after just a handful of uses.

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth addiction

In addition, since meth contains highly toxic substances, an individual’s health and other areas of his or her life can be significantly impacted if he or she becomes dependent on this substance.

Whether meth is snorted, smoked, or injected, the high that develops can be intense. Sensations of euphoria and pleasure can take over one’s body, and a rush of energy can kick in after consumption. As soon as these effects wear off, an individual is likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms and powerful cravings for more meth, and might go to extraordinary lengths to acquire and abuse more of this substance. With increased use, an individual might spend a significant amount of time-consuming meth in larger doses to obtain the desired high. After a short period of this type of abuse, an individual can find that he or she is completely addicted to meth (also known as methamphetamine use disorder), which requires professional care to defeat.

Thankfully, there are effective options for treatment that can help women and men free themselves from the tangles of meth addiction. In obtaining treatment, the devastating effects of prolonged meth abuse can be lessened and allow those who are battling this addiction live fuller, healthier lives.


Meth addiction statistics

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 5% of the American population has used meth at least one time. Researchers have determined that over one million women and men have abused methamphetamine within the past year, with almost half a million of those individuals having abused meth within the past 30 days. Also, over 100,000 emergency room visits each year are caused by meth abuse.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

For close friends and loved ones, it might not be known why or how someone they care for has started abusing this substance. Research suggests that the causes of meth abuse are as follows:

Genetic: Experts have uncovered that specific gene clusters may make an individual more likely to abuse meth at some point in his or her life. In addition, experts in the field of addiction have deduced that when an individual possesses a family history of meth abuse or other types of substance abuse or mental illness, he or she has a greater likelihood of also battling similar issues.

Environmental: Researchers strongly believe that one’s environment can affect whether or not he or she will abuse meth in the future. Exposure to meth or other substance abuse, continued stress, living in poverty, or living in a home that is unstable can all add to the development of an addiction to this substance. Lastly, addiction experts firmly believe that if an individual associates with those who use and/or distribute meth, they are likely to abuse this substance as well.

Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of mental health conditions
  • Being of younger age
  • Family history of mental health conditions
  • Personal history of other substance use
  • Poverty
  • Family history of meth abuse and addiction
  • Exposure to ongoing stress and chaos
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Being Caucasian American
  • Personal history of trauma

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

A meth addiction can dramatically impact how an individual looks and behaves. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the following signs and symptoms of meth abuse may or may not be apparent to others:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Poor performance at work
  • Frequent absences from work
  • Being deceptive about one’s activities and whereabouts
  • Obsessive, repetitive behaviors
  • Being unable to control one’s meth use
  • Attempts to borrow or steal money in order to acquire meth
  • Acting with uncharacteristic energy
  • Prioritizing meth use over time spent with family and/or friends
  • Continuing to abuse meth after experiencing negative effects from prior use
  • Spending a great deal of time acquiring, using, or recovering from meth use

Physical symptoms:

  • Hypertension
  • Increased pulse
  • Scabs and sores on face, arms, and other body parts
  • Increased heartrate
  • Experiencing tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal
  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gum and tooth damage and decay

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Memory problems
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic shifts in mood
  • Agitation
  • Irritability


Effects of meth addiction

Obtaining treatment for a meth addiction is critical. If care is not obtained, the effects listed below are likely to occur and can impact an individual’s ability to uphold a good quality of life:

  • Suicide attempts
  • Brain damage
  • Drastic changes in appearance
  • Lung problems
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Loss of muscle tissue
  • Legal problems leading to incarceration
  • Financial distress
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Weakened immune system
  • Hepatitis B or C
  • Deterioration of relationships
  • Family discord
  • Job loss
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Loss of bone density

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

Abusing meth can make pre-existing mental health conditions even worse and/or trigger the onset of specific mental disorders. The following conditions are some of those that are known to affect the lives of individuals who are struggling with methamphetamine use disorder:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Gambling disorder

Withdrawal and Overdose

Meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: Since long-term abuse of meth can cause an individual’s body to grow dependent on this substance, an individual must keep abusing it in order to maintain daily functioning. However, if an individual ceases his or her use of this substance, the following symptoms and effects of withdrawal can develop:

  • Hypersomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Intense cravings for meth
  • Anger
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation

Effects of meth overdose: One of the most dangerous effects of meth abuse is the potential for overdose. An overdose on methamphetamine can occur when an individual consumes more of this substance than he or she can metabolize, which then causes the individual’s body to start experiencing symptoms and warning signs. If any of the symptoms listed below become apparent after the use of this dangerous substance, emergency medical attention should be immediately obtained as fast as possible:

  • Stroke
  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Coma
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Loss of consciousness
What our clients are saying

My addiction to meth was starting to have severe effects on my body, that was when I decided to get help at Huntington Creek. Only Huntington Creek was able to help me achieve lasting sobriety, and for that, I am truly grateful.

– Former Patient
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