A Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Meth Addiction Symptoms

Methamphetamine is a powerful and addictive synthetic substance, originally used medically for ADHD, narcolepsy and obesity but more prevalent as a street drug. It is a stimulant that speeds up the body’s central nervous system and triggers an adrenaline-like response or euphoria, making it a popular party drug.

Are you concerned about a loved one that may be using meth? Recognizing someone as a chronic user is important to helping them get off it, but you may not know what to look for.

These are some common meth addiction symptoms.

Meth Addiction: Short Term Effects

Meth creates a short-term high that can be intense as it interacts with the brain’s dopamine and serotonin chemicals. Often, users continue to take it to keep the high going, and it can have short-term effects like:

  • A sense of euphoria
  • An intense rush
  • An increase in body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • A rapid heartbeat

Early symptoms of meth addiction present as follows:

  • Nervous behaviour
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Jaw clenching
  • Headaches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hyper sweating
  • Long periods without sleep
  • Anxiousness
  • Increased physical activities

As a person uses it habitually, it becomes harder to hide the addiction, and they will experience more recognizable symptoms. They should check into an addiction treatment center before the symptoms worsen.

Meth Addiction: Mood Symptoms

Meth addiction alters your mood, and while the initial high is euphoric, it quickly becomes a negative experience. These mood symptoms include:

  • Aggression
  • Panic
  • Restlessness
  • Violent mood swings
  • Racing thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Meth Addiction: Physical Symptoms

Symptoms can also be physical, with weight loss, increased heart rate, malnutrition and insomnia. More severe symptoms develop, including:

  • Increased acne
  • Deteriorating or rotting teeth
  • Open skin sores
  • Liver damage
  • Liver disease
  • Respiratory issues
  • Dysfunctional immune system
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Brain damage

Meth Addiction: Risky Behaviour

Another way to recognize a person addicted to meth is their behavioural symptoms. These present as:

  • Sexual behaviour that is increased and risky
  • Fighting and other forms of violence
  • Increased borrowing of money along with stealing
  • Leaving behind activities that used to be pleasurable and rewarding
  • Disengaging with family and friends
  • Aggressively seeking the next high
  • Engaging in unsafe or illegal activities

Meth Addiction: Psychological Symptoms

As an addicted meth user, a person may already suffer from mental health conditions made worse by using the drug. Meth overrides the brain’s production of dopamine and can even stop its natural production, leaving the addict to be more dependent on using it to feel pleasure or joy. This leads to a deterioration of their mental state and produces problems like:

  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Psychotic behaviour
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Break from reality

Meth Addiction: Long Term Effects

A chronic meth user will build up a series of problems and issues, both physical and psychological like:

  • Reduced coordination
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Impaired speech
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired verbal learning
  • Skin abscesses
  • Severe dental issues

They are also at a higher risk of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV. There is also a possible link between meth use and Parkinson’s disease.

Meth Addiction: Overdose

The brain and body quickly adapt to drugs and can build up a tolerance as it works to process these foreign chemicals in the system. This causes an addict to use more to get the same high, often leading to overconsumption.

An overdose of meth sometimes accompanies other drugs like fentanyl, making it even more toxic to the body. Still, even on its own, it can lead to devastating cardiovascular events like a stroke, heart attack, and organ damage. The signs of being in an over-toxic state include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Rapid increase in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Circulatory failure
  • Death

Where Does Meth Come From?

Most meth used for getting high is produced in illegal labs using inexpensive, flammable ingredients like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine mixed with other ingredients. It is then added to a solvent like gasoline and heated to form crystals. There are also no regulations or supervision for meth production, along with no quality control, and many other cutting agents are used to dilute the drug. Some of these cutting agents are:

  • Red dye
  • Copper salts
  • Amphetamines
  • Sulphur
  • Phosphorus
  • Fentanyl
  • Methylsulfonylmethane

Some addicts also make instant meth using a plastic or glass container to “shake and bake” the ingredients and then extract the meth.

Producing meth is a highly dangerous process that can easily cause a fire or explosion with toxic, unstable, combustible waste left behind. It is estimated that there are six pounds of waste for every pound of usable meth.

These are the symptoms of someone who is addicted to meth. Seeing someone go through this can be heartbreaking, but resources are available to help them get treatment and beat the addiction. Approach them with love and empathy with a goal of recovery from meth addiction, and you just may save a life.