Signs & Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Oasis Behavioral Health Hospital helps individuals in Chandler, AZ diagnose and treat their mental health & addiction disorders.

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth and substance abuse

Methamphetamine (also known as meth, crystal, and ice, among others) is a derivative of amphetamine known to be one of the most addictive drugs available today. Meth may come in the form of white or yellowish crystalline powder, crystals, or in pill form and can be smoked, snorted, or swallowed. It can also be injected in dry form or after being dissolved in water.

There are a number of reasons why people start using methamphetamine. Females have been known to initially use the drug because it typically causes rapid weight loss. However, the body quickly builds up a tolerance to meth, so the weight loss eventually tapers off. But, by that point, the individuals have become addicted to the substance. People also use meth because it acts as a stimulant in the brain, improving energy, alertness, and concentration while ridding the body of feelings of fatigue. Additionally, many people use meth simply because it produces a long-lasting high, sometimes lasting up to 12 hours. Experiencing such an extended period of euphoria can quickly cause people to become addicted to methamphetimines and medical treatment is required to safely withdraw and begin the recovery process.


Meth addiction statistics

It is believed that an estimated 56 million people around the world abuse amphetamine-type substances, including methamphetamine. It has also estimated that approximately 600,000 people in the United States alone use meth every week.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

The reasons why a person may become addicted to methamphetamine are believed to be a combination of various factors. These factors may include:

Genetic: One’s susceptibility to addiction is thought to have a genetic component as variations in a person’s genes can increase or decrease the risk level that a person has of developing an addiction to any kind of substance, including meth.

Physical: The use of methamphetamines causes the brain to experience a surge of dopamine, which results in the prolonged sense of pleasure and euphoria. As the use of meth increases, so does the destruction of the brain’s dopamine receptors. This causes the brain to require more of the drug in order to produce the same pleasure sensations, resulting in addiction.

Environmental: The environment a person is surrounded by can have a large impact on whether or not he or she will begin to use meth. As might be expected, people who live in an area where meth abuse is prominent and easy to obtain are more likely to experiment with using the drug. People may also use meth as a way to self-medicate from symptoms that they are experiencing as the result of another illness.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Pre-existing mental illness
  • Abuse of other substances
  • Peer pressure
  • Location in which a person lives (some areas of the country are known to have larger problems with meth abuse as opposed to others)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

The signs and symptoms that may be present in someone who is using meth can vary depending on how long the person has been using the drug and how much of the drug the person is using. Examples of various symptoms that a person using meth may experience can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Sudden, sporadic bouts of hyperactivity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Random, unprovoked physical aggression
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Incessant talking or not talking at all
  • Participating in repetitive activities (like disassembling and then reassembling things)

Physical symptoms:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Uncontrollable twitching and facial tics
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Foul body odor
  • Insomnia

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Mania
  • Fearfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in things one used to be interested in


Effects of meth addiction

Like the signs and symptoms, the effects that an addiction to methamphetamine can have on people will vary based on the extent of the use, as well as the length of time in which the person has been using. Some of the effects that meth addicts may experience can include:

  • Broken relationships
  • Job loss
  • Financial distress
  • Homelessness
  • Isolation
  • Long-lasting cognitive impairment
  • Significant changes in one’s appearance, including:
    • Rotting teeth
    • Graying skin
    • Extreme acne
    • Open sores on the skin
    • Hair loss

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: Due to the fact that the process of withdrawing from meth can be extremely uncomfortable and painful, an estimated 93% of people who attempt to stop using the drug end up going back to it. Examples of things that people may experience while going through withdrawal can include:

  • Strong feelings of fatigue and an increased need for sleep
  • Loss of the ability to experience pleasure
  • Intensified cravings for the drug
  • Profuse sweating, while also feeling chilled
  • Tremors
  • Feeling as though one’s skin is crawling
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations and delusions

Effects of meth overdose: Overdosing on meth can be frightening and incredibly dangerous, sometimes even fatal. The following are some symptoms that have been known to occur in people who are experiencing a methamphetamine overdose:

  • Muscle breakdown, which can ultimately lead to things such as kidney failure
  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

It is not uncommon for people addicted to methamphetamine to suffer from other forms of mental illnesses, which can include:

  • Abuse of other substances
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
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