Meth Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Meth addiction can be hard to spot. Learn about the warning signs & symptoms to watch for.

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth addiction

An illicit substance that is widely known to cause insurmountable damage to a person’s life is methamphetamine. Commonly referred to as meth, this drug is derived from amphetamine and triggers the rapid release of dopamine in a person’s brain when it is used. When under the influence of meth, an individual can remain high for up to twelve hours and experience euphoric sensations. And since the route of administration for methamphetamine is via a needle into one’s veins, by smoking it, or by snorting it through one’s nose, the high from meth is known to occur instantly. It is the immediate high and subsequent sensations that are pleasurable to users, however the withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable.

In order sustain the euphoria and keep withdrawal symptoms at bay, abusers of methamphetamine often quickly become entwined in the vicious cycle of addiction because of their repeated use. When this occurs, a person’s academic and occupational performance declines, relationships can become damaged, and the physical and mental health of the individual deteriorates. However, those who wish to break free from their meth addiction can engage in treatment, learn about their addiction, and garner the skills and tools needed to become sober. Lastly, treatment can also afford addicts with treatment for any existing mental illness that could have contributed to or became worse due to the presence of a meth addiction.


Meth addiction statistics

An alarming number of individuals in the United States have used or abused methamphetamine at some point in life. It is estimated that 1 million Americans have used this substance, and an estimated 600,000 people abuse this illicit drug at least once per week. Lastly, research has realized that people under the age of 18 are abusing this substance at a high rate and are requiring treatment to eradicate this detrimental chemical dependency concern.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

Since there not one predetermined reason why a person develops an addiction to methamphetamine, addiction and mental health experts agree that several influences likely contribute to the development of such a chemical dependency concern. Consider the following explanations and listed risk factors:

Genetic: There is a great deal of evidence in existence that supports the notion that addiction possesses a genetic influence. If an individual has a family history of addiction to substances such as meth, there is an increased chance that that person will also come to use and/or abuse substances as well.

Environmental: Individuals who are exposed to chronic methamphetamine abuse have an increased risk for eventually experimenting, using, or abusing this substance as well. Because of this, as well as other environmental influences, a person’s environment can greatly impact whether or not an individual will abuse meth. Additional environmental influences can include exposure to violence, crime, chaos or being the victim of abuse and/or neglect.

Risk Factors:

  • Having easy access to the drug
  • Presence of mental health condition(s)
  • Exposure to violence
  • Family history of substance abuse / addiction / dependence
  • Personal history of abusing other drugs or alcohol
  • Exposure to crime
  • Peer pressure / being surrounded by people who use the drug

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

A methamphetamine addiction is serious and close friends and loved ones who are concerned that someone they care about is abusing this drug should be mindful of signs that this type of addiction is occurring. The listed behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms are those that infer a person is grappling with a meth addiction:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Erratic behavior
  • Lying
  • Engaging in criminal activity
  • Incessant talking
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lethargy
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Truancy from school
  • Missing work
  • Unwarranted aggression
  • Rapid speech

Physical symptoms:

  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • Foul body odor
  • Poor hygiene
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Facial tics
  • Muscle spasms

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of sound judgment and reasoning

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Prolonged manic episodes
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Decreased interest in things once enjoyed
  • Extreme shifts in mood
  • Intense anxiety


Effects of meth addiction

Treatment can greatly reduce the effects of a methamphetamine addiction. Without proper care, those addicted to this harmful drug will likely experience a number of adverse effects that carry the potential to permanently impact an individual’s life. Examples of these effects can include, but are not limited to:

  • Job loss
  • Sudden death
  • Changes to one physical appearance
  • Financial strife
  • Damaged relationships
  • Academic failure
  • Homelessness
  • Irreparable cognitive impairment
  • Contracting viruses such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C
  • Divorce
  • Permanent damage to one’s immune system

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

People who abuse meth are often battling a mental illness at the same time. The following disorders are those that are common among those who use and/or abuse methamphetamine:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Depressive disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: When a regular abuser of meth suddenly stop using this drug, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Meth withdrawal is known to be quite uncomfortable and could require medical attention. The following are examples of methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Increased depression
  • Loss of energy
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Intense cravings
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Psychomotor tics
  • Inability to experience pleasure

Effects of meth overdose: Prolonged abuse of methamphetamine increases a person’s risk of experiencing an overdose. Because an addiction to meth can cloud a person’s judgment with regards to how much and how often he or she consumes this drug, the threat of overdose is often ever-present. An overdose on meth occurs when an individual consumes more of the drug than his or her body can handle, of which could result in the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Lapsing into a coma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

The Harbor Oaks staff here did an amazing job helping me understand and overcome many of the underlying causes to my meth addiction. They are always so genuinely supportive and caring.

– Former Patient
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