Meth Symptoms and Warning Signs

Methamphetamine is a major problem throughout many parts of the US and UK. There are a few reasons why meth usage is on the rise. Firstly, cocaine is becoming harder to distribute; therefore, addicts are looking for replacement stimulants that will produce the same ‘high’.
Add that to the huge profits marketers make from the sale of meth – and the fact it can be easily transported as liquid and turned into crystal before being sold – and it gives an indication of a booming business.

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that creates a rush of euphoria followed by a gradual feeling of pleasure and bliss, sustained over several hours. The rush of euphoria sometimes lasts ten hours and is the major reason why people abuse meth.

Warning signs of meth abuse include:

  • Using meth in dangerous situations
  • Spending too much time and going to extremes to buy meth
  • Foregoing professional and social events to use meth
  • Fighting with loved ones to defend meth usage

Main Indicators of Meth Use

Physical changes: physical signs are major indicators of meth use: weight loss, dilated pupils, dark circles and eye twitching.

Tooth decay: there is a reason why people who use meth have what is known as ‘meth mouth’. The chemical compound in meth turns the teeth brown and causes decay. You’ll notice sore or red gums, missing, rotten and browning teeth. There’ll also be burn marks on the lips from smoking meth through a metallic pipe or hot glass.

Other signs to look for include: track marks where they injected, nosebleeds from snorting ice, offensive body odour due to bad hygiene and chemical composition of meth, premature ageing and skin lesions.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of meth use include: increased sexual libido, convulsions, droopy facial skin, thinning body, sores and acne, liver and kidney damage, lowered immunity and increased body temperature.

Using meth exposes you to Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Behavioural symptoms

Meth is a powerful brain stimulant with the potential for abuse and addiction. When you abuse meth, the drug floods your brain with dopamine to produce feelings of euphoria and bliss. The activation of the brain’s reward centre is a trigger for addiction. Apart from controlling the feeling of pleasure, dopamine is involved in cognition, movement, memory and learning. With continuous flooding of the brain, it creates an imbalance in dopamine-controlled activity, until you need large doses of crystal meth to perform these basic functions.

A major behavioural change noticed is meth-induced psychosis that happens during a meth binge. Sadly, meth binges (or tweaking) are common for most meth users who continuously want to feel the pleasurable ‘high’ of meth. Signs of psychosis include visual and auditory hallucinations, irritability, paranoia and intense scratching.

Once in a state of tweaking, you might become extremely violent, make jumbled up sentences and display rapid eye movement.

Meth and Mental Health

Prolonged, heavy use of crystal meth leads to mental health issues like psychosis, sleep disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety.

Meth-induced psychosis is further broken down into psychosis with hallucination and delusional psychosis. Hallucinations involve a meth user seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there. Delusions involve distorted views on what’s happening in the real world.

Hallucinations are a prominent part of schizophrenia – a side effect of long-term meth usage.

How Relationships Are Affected by Meth Addiction

When a person is high on meth, it appears they love everything and everyone. Sadly, the only thing a person with meth use disorder loves is crystal meth. Meth has a similar effect to cocaine. The main difference is that the effect lasts longer and the habit is less expensive to sustain. Developing an addiction is easy; within a few doses, a recreational meth user starts craving the drug all the time, until they’ve developed drug dependence.

With addiction in the mix, all the elements of a successful relationship suffer. If you are addicted you probably keep secrets, hide your drug use from others and lie about your whereabouts and how you spend their money, all the while accumulating debts.

As the lies pile up, it’s hard to trust, which deteriorates into constant arguments and quarrelling. Drugs like meth, Ritalin, alcohol, ecstasy, steroids and cocaine can induce aggression, anger and violence.

Who Does Meth Addiction Affect?

The major impact of your meth use will be felt by your immediate family, extended family, relatives, friends and loved ones, even by your classmates and colleagues. Ice is methamphetamine in its strongest form; it decreases your emotional control and increases the risk of violence, psychosis and impulsivity.

Sometimes, in an attempt to help you, your partner or friends enable your drug habit and worsen your addiction. Some find themselves violently grabbing their children for no reason, hitting partners at the slightest provocation, stealing from friends and parents, and generally becoming a terrible person to be around.

You can make a difference for yourself and your family if you seek help as soon as you turn to this drug. Addiction to meth is devastating.

Meth Abuse Exposes One to the Following Risks

Exposure to toxic chemicals in crystal meth: The purity of crystal meth is very low. Most of the compound in meth includes deadly poisonous chemicals, cut (mixed) with hazardous adulterants. The poison contaminates everything from the air you breathe to your internal organs.

This leads to other dangerous side effects, such as cardiovascular disease, liver failure, depression, death from overdose and financial ruin from sustaining the drug addiction.

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Confronting the Meth User

The best way to help a meth user is to stage an intervention. This is a structured conversation between a meth user and loved ones, aided by a professional interventionist. When successful, it helps loved ones express their concerns and feelings constructively, whilst convincing their loved one to seek addiction treatment.

Make sure you know the signs of meth addiction, consult an intervention specialist to monitor the process, create your intervention group and rehearse the conversation. Choose a familiar, non-threatening space to hold the meeting and get ready to call 999 if the encounter becomes dangerous.

Meth and Other Drugs

The consequences of mixing meth with other drugs are life-threatening. Polydrug users combine meth with other illicit substances that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe behaviour and overdose. 43.7% of poly-drug users combined meth with marijuana, while others mixed ice with GHB, amyl nitrite, MDMA, cocaine, Viagra and heroin.

Meth is a highly addictive drug and mixing it with any other stimulant, psychedelic, hallucinogen or cannabis makes it difficult to complete detox and maintain sobriety, especially for long-term users.

Treatment, Withdrawal and Next Steps

Detox is an integral part of a successful meth addiction treatment programme. Withdrawal is painful and traumatic. The discomfort sometimes causes patients to relapse in the hope of counteracting withdrawal pains. During detox, your body flushes out meth and other harmful chemicals.

After detox, the next step is to enter rehab treatment for drug rehabilitation. Inpatient rehab offers 24/7 quality care in a structured environment that makes it easy to avoid relapse and learn to live a sober life.

Quitting Meth, Professional Help and the Road Ahead

Successfully quitting requires excellent treatment from professionals who have experience creating individualised treatment plans and handling all kinds of meth addiction. Your medical team employs a range of therapeutic techniques to address the root cause of your addiction and prepare you to live a drug-free life after rehab.

Before rehab

Here are a few things to do before attending rehab:

  • Ask a loved one to look after your kids or pets while you’re away or contract a temporary caregiver.
  • Tie up legal and financial loose ends, such as automatic payments.
  • Only take essentials you need. This minimises outside distraction and keeps you solely focused on your journey.

During rehab

During rehab, your day usually begins with breakfast, meditation and yoga to help you relax. Oftentimes, follows a group session, where you’ll identify behaviour and people that enabled drug use. After that, you’ll attend other therapy sessions with short breaks in between, until dinner. This is an example programme. Be certain that the clinic you admit yourself to creates bespoke (individualised) treatment plans for each client.

After rehab

It’s important that you continue attending treatment after rehab. Don’t skip appointments -even when you feel good about your chances of maintaining sobriety. Join a Crystal Meth Anonymous(CMA) group that helps prevent relapse and build a network of sober friends that encourage positive habits. To avoid stressors, take up mindful meditation and yoga. This helps to reduce craving and relapse. Finally, make sure you follow your aftercare plan and find a purpose or goal that makes your life worth living.

Support groups

According to the NIAA, support groups are self-help groups consisting of two or more people experiencing similar problems, who come together to find solutions to those problems and support each other. CMA specifically focuses on meth abuse, with a common goal to end addiction amongst members.

There are group meetings, where you share experiences and listen to other recovering addicts. You’ll complete 12-step work programme and offer voluntary services like providing refreshment for group meetings.


Behavioural therapies used in conjunction with medication are effective for treating meth use disorder. Therapy techniques for treating meth abuse and addiction include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): teaches to identify triggers and life stressors that lead to meth abuse and replace them with healthy behaviour.

Contingency management: you will be given an incentive to motivate you to maintain sobriety.

The matrix model:  a 16-week programme that incorporates individual counselling, family education, 12-stepprogramme, motivation and drug testing.


Rehab consists of inpatient and outpatient treatment. SAMSHA advises that people with a history of long-term drug usage or severe cases of meth addiction should enrol as an inpatient to get the best treatment. The rehab you choose should be one where treatment is tailored to your addiction needs. Services for rehab include medical detox, medication, alternative therapy, behavioural therapy and aftercare.

Outpatient treatment is recommended for short-term meth users who haven’t developed drug dependency. You’ll receive treatment for 12-16 weeks at a rehab facility, whilst continuing with your daily activities.

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Meth detox lasts about 10 days. The first stage is the ‘crash’ after you stop using. It feels more like a hangover than detox because you’ll sleep a lot, have a huge appetite and feel anxious and irritable. Withdrawal peaks on the second and third days, where you may experience body pain, depression, anxiety, weight loss, insomnia and exhaustion. Most of the physical symptoms wane after detox, but depression might linger weeks or months afterwards.

Where Else Can I Find Help?

If you’re battling with addiction or seeking help for a loved one, addiction helplines can help you find the best treatment centre in the UK, tailored to your unique treatment needs and personality. You don’t have to fight addiction alone. Expert counsellors are online 24/7 to help you understand your addiction and proffer solutions for a lasting recovery.

How People Can Overcome Meth Addiction

The first step towards overcoming meth addiction is to commit to treatment. The process is emotionally and physically exhausting. Having support during treatment helps.

Write down all the reasons you want to quit. Delete all negative influences from your contacts and social media accounts, such as your drug dealer and friends with whom you shared drugs. Ask one person in your group of friends and family to be your sobriety partner. Attend treatment, either in patiently or out patiently.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meth abuse?

When recreational drug users take meth for the rush of its euphoric high, this is meth abuse. Over time, you’ll need to increase the dosage to feel the original high from your first use, until you build up a tolerance for meth and develop drug dependency, which are all warning signs of an addiction.

What are the risks and effects of meth abuse?

Effects of using meth include chest pain, itchy skin, loss of appetite, paranoia and hallucinations.

What are some signs and symptoms of meth abuse?

Signs of meth abuse include gibberish talk, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, weight loss and ‘meth mouth’.

How does meth affect the brain?

Meth works by over flooding neurotransmitters with dopamine to create an illusion of unlimited energy. Long-term usage lowers dopamine levels and prevents you from learning new motor skills.

What are the other health effects of meth?

Health effects of meth include irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, fatigue, psychosis, depression and anxiety.

Can a person overdose on meth?

Yes. You can overdose on ice. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include breathing difficulty, kidney failure, extremely high body temperature, stroke, heart attack, severe agitation and seizures.

How can a meth overdose be treated?

Call an ambulance! That’s the first step when someone overdoses on meth. With seizures, hold the back of the head, apply a cold compress to keep their temperature down and remove all sharp objects they might use to injure themselves.

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