Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use

Ice meth pipe

Methamphetamine is not the number one drug that is abused in most countries, but it is one of the most addictive and one of the most destructive. It’s important that parents and other family members are able to tell when someone they care about is abusing methamphetamine.

The appearance of Meth, and Methods of Use

Meth is most often a white to light brown crystalline powder. It may also be found in clear chunky crystals that resemble broken pieces of ice or shards of glass. Methamphetamine can be found in liquid form as well.

Crystal meth

Methamphetamine can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked. If you are looking for traces of meth use, therefore, you may find small bags of white powder or crystals or syringes. Other items that could be left behind after meth abuse are small pieces of crumpled aluminum foil, soda cans with a hole in the side or the shafts of inexpensive ball-point pens that might be used to snort the drug.

Some meth users abuse the drug over and over, a form of binging known as a “run.” They may inject the drug every few hours until they run out of supplies or become too incapacitated to continue.

Meth Abusers:

  • Do not sleep for long periods
  • Lose his or her appetite
  • Lose large amounts of weight
  • May appear unusually active
  • Can seem nervous and anxious

What Happens When People Abuse the Drug?

Methamphetamine is a very strong stimulant. With some methods of administration, there is a fast “rush” of euphoria followed by a long period of less intense euphoria. When meth is ingested, there is no rush but the high may last for as long as ten hours.

The user feels more energetic, does not sleep for long periods, usually several days, and loses his or her appetite. It is common for meth addicts to lose large amounts of weight and look gaunt, thin and undernourished. He or she will probably appear unusually active but may also act nervous and anxious.

The user is likely to get overheated and may appear sweaty without it being hot or his being involved in physical exertion. His pupils will be dilated. His blood pressure will also increase. He or she may become sexually excited.

Adverse Effects of Meth Use

In its manufacture, methamphetamine is processed using harsh, caustic chemicals. As a result, heavy use of this drug is very hard on the user. Additionally, the lifestyle of a methamphetamine user usually creates further damage. All in all, it is one of the most damaging drugs on the illicit market.

Repeated use can show up in an irregular heartbeat, rapid heartbeat, mood disturbances, violent, aggressive, paranoid behavior, confusion and insomnia. There may be a rapid deterioration of the person’s behavior or appearance if he or she is a heavy user.

Serious Results of Heavy Methamphetamine Use

Heavy users tend to experience hallucinations and delusions. Some users develop sores on their face or body when they have been picking at their skin, thinking that there are bugs crawling under their skin that they can’t see.

Meth mouth

Because of the caustic nature of the chemicals and the fact that the drug dries up the flow of saliva, a meth addict’s teeth may get rotten and brown. This is referred to as “meth mouth.”

Meth users suffer from poor judgment and may engage in risky lifestyles and risky sex. When a person becomes a meth addict, getting the drug becomes far more important than taking care of the home, children or work. The children may go unfed. Animal feces around the home may not be cleaned up. Used diapers may be found all over the home. Drug paraphernalia and drugs may be within reach of children. If there are children in the home of confirmed meth users, families should take effective action as the children of meth users may come to harm due to neglect, abuse or worse.

An overdose of methamphetamine can cause overheating to the point of convulsions, cardiovascular collapse or death.

A period of heavy meth use is usually followed by a crash in which the person can’t control his sleepiness. He or she may sleep long hours or keep falling into a sleep. There will be heavy drug cravings during this time period that can lead to another binge.

Addicts Very Commonly Reject Help

If you see any of this pattern in someone you care about, you may be looking at the external signs of methamphetamine use. Meth is so addictive that some people may become addicted after just a few uses. You may have to intervene in this person’s life to get them to a Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that can help.

New Life Detox Sauna

One of the most significant ways that the Narconon program can help a methamphetamine addict is by offering the Narconon New Life Detoxification, one phase of the overall treatment program. This phase combines time in a dry heat sauna with moderate daily exercise and a strict nutritional regimen. According to a recent peer-reviewed study, this combination helps alleviate post-acute withdrawal symptoms as well as clarify thinking and reduce cravings.

If you are trying to help someone who is addicted to methamphetamine, call today to find out how the Narconon drug rehab program can help.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP