Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Understanding Meth Abuse

Learn About Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as just meth, is a very addictive stimulant drug that can boost mood, increase feelings of well-being, increase energy, and make a person more alert. This synthetic drug comes as a white, bitter-tasting powder or crystalized rock, and can be snorted, smoked, swallowed, or injected. Since the pleasurable feelings associated with use of this drug diminish rather quickly, those who abuse meth will often take repeated doses in a binge and crash pattern. This continued abuse of meth will put an individual at a high risk for experiencing an overdose, which can potentially end in death.

When a methamphetamine addiction develops it can be extremely difficult for an individual to stop using meth without the assistance of a professional. If a meth addiction is not properly treated the effects can be extremely severe and far reaching. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to help those struggling with a meth addiction that can help them give up this dangerous substance once and for all.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders

It is very common for individual who abuse methamphetamine to also abuse other substances, especially those with sedative properties. Many times those abusing meth will also abuse sedatives in order to reduce symptoms of insomnia, nervousness, and other unpleasant symptoms associated with meth abuse. In addition to the abuse of other substances, individuals who abuse meth may also be struggling with the presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder. Examples of disorders that have been cited as occurring alongside an addiction to meth include:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Additional substance use disorders


Meth Addiction Statistics

In the United States, it is estimated that 1.2 million people have used meth at least once in their lives, with about 600,000 individuals stating they use meth on a weekly basis. In the Midwestern part of the United States, methamphetamine accounts for approximately 90% of all drug cases for which people seek professional treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Meth Abuse

The precise cause of addiction has yet to be determined; however, most researchers have come to conclusion that an individual’s vulnerability for the development of an addiction to drugs like meth is the result of various factors working together. The following causes and risk factors likely work together to play a role in the onset of an addiction to meth:

Genetic: Years of research on the topic of addiction has determined that an individual’s genetics play a role in the onset of an addiction. This means that, if an individual has a family history of substance abuse and addiction, he or she is at greater risk for suffering from an addiction him or herself than are individuals who do not share similar backgrounds.

Environmental: There are a number of environmental conditions that will make it more likely that an individual will begin to use drugs, such as meth, and will consequently develop an addiction to the substance. Some of these environmental influences may include growing up in a household where drug use was accepted, exposure to stressful environments, and being the victim of abuse or neglect.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Personal history of abusing other drugs and/or alcohol
  • Possessing a preexisting mental health condition
  • Family or personal history of mental illness
  • Exposure to violence
  • Growing up in an unstable home environment
  • Associating with those who use meth
  • Being the victim of abuse or neglect
  • Exposure to chronic stress, violence, or crime
  • Chronic exposure to the use of drugs and/or alcohol

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse

The symptoms associated with methamphetamine abuse will vary depending upon a number of factors including length of abuse, amount of meth being abused, and the abuse of additional substances. Below are some examples of various behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that may indicate that someone is struggling with an addiction to meth:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Withdrawals from family and friends
  • No longer participates in activities once enjoyed
  • Careless about appearance and hygiene
  • Engagement in secretive and deceitful behavior
  • Sudden change in peer group
  • Engagement in erratic or belligerent behaviors
  • Displaying sudden, unprovoked angry outbursts
  • No longer taking care of daily responsibilities or daily obligations
  • Constantly misses work
  • Decline in work performance
  • Lying
  • Stealing

Physical symptoms:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Sleeps excessively or doesn’t sleep for days
  • Severe dental problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Scabs and sores located on the face and arms
  • Putrid body odor
  • Excessive acne
  • Onset of facial tics
  • Muscle spasms / twitching
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Heightened blood pressure

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Unable to focus or think
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Unable to use sound judgement
  • Unable to make appropriate decisions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Feelings of fear and worry
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Decline in self-esteem
  • Suicidal ideation


Effects of Meth Abuse

Long-term methamphetamine abuse can result in a number of negative consequences in an individual’s life. Particularly, there are large variety of medical conditions and complications that may arise as a result of prolonged meth abuse. Some of these physical consequences may include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Perforated nasal septum
  • Respiratory problems
  • Lung infections
  • Increased risk of HIV infection
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Neurocognitive impairment
  • Chest pain
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Oral health problems including “meth mouth”
  • Deteriorated physical appearance
  • Overall decline in one’s mental and physical health
  • Weakening of one’s immune system

In addition to the numerous physical consequences associated with meth abuse there are a wide variety of other ill effects that may develop, including:

  • Engagement in violent behavior
  • Traumatic injuries as a result of violent behavior
  • Engagement in illicit behavior
  • Interaction with law enforcement, including incarceration
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Deterioration of interpersonal relationships
  • Marital discord, potentially resulting in divorce
  • Occupational failure, ultimately resulting in the loss of one’s job
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Meth Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: Methamphetamine withdrawal occurs when an individual’s body all of a sudden becomes deprived of a substance it has become dependent upon. Withdrawal symptoms affect people in different ways and no two people will experience withdrawal in the same way. There are however, some similarities among withdrawal symptoms which may include:

  • Tiredness/extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • Severe agitation
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Lucid dreams and nightmares
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviors

Effects of meth overdose: Individuals who abuse meth are constantly putting themselves at risk for a fatal meth overdose. Should you suspect that someone is suffering from a meth overdose, medical attention should be sought immediately. However, the best way to prevent an overdose is to stop using meth altogether before one occurs. Some symptoms that may indicated that someone has overdosed on methamphetamine may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperthermia and sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Chest pain
  • Very fast or slow heart beat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle twitches
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Coma

I used to abuse crystal meth to feel alive. One day, I looked in the mirror and saw how it completely altered my physical appearance. It was like there was a different person. After getting rehab at Starlite, I am now 3 years sober and getting my old life back together!

– Jeremy R.