Meth Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth addiction & abuse

Methamphetamine, otherwise known as meth, is a potent and strong drug. Meth is categorized in the stimulant category of drugs because the use of it increases the activity of the central nervous system. The category of stimulants includes prescription medications such as Ritalin and Adderall, everyday substances like caffeine, and illicit drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA (Ecstasy), and meth. In terms of consumption, meth can be snorted, smoked, or dissolved then injected. When meth becomes present in the body, it produces a strong rush of pleasure. This happens as the brain pumps out more dopamine in response to the drug being in the system, which causes feelings of motivation and pleasure to kick in. These effects can cause individuals to keep abusing meth, which can lead to the development of addiction. What is important to know, however, is that there are several options for treatment for those who have found themselves stuck in the dangerous pattern of meth abuse.

Statistics

Statistics on meth addiction & abuse

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), nearly 0.2 percent of individuals ages 12 and older have abused an amphetamine-like stimulant within the past year. Intravenous use is three or four times more common among women than men; however, this difference is only notable in those who inject the substance. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH), reported data from a 2012 study that showed a higher estimate, stating that nearly 0.4 percent of the population (or 1.2 million people) have used meth within the past year.

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction & abuse

Similar to other mental health and substance use disorders, there are a number of other factors that can impact one’s chances of developing methamphetamine use disorder, including:

Environmental: Those who were exposed to meth prenatally or during childhood have a higher risk of abusing meth at some point in their lives. Additionally, those who have witnessed community violence, lived in unstable homes, have mental illnesses, or socialize with meth users and dealers are more likely to abuse meth and develop methamphetamine use disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing community violence
  • Having an unstable home environment
  • Personal history of other substance use disorders
  • Family history of substance use disorders
  • Being around meth dealers or users
  • Presence of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Exposure to meth in the womb
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Impulsive personality

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction & abuse

Those who are battling with meth abuse might display a number of signs and symptoms that infer they are abusing this substance, including:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Spending a great deal of time using meth, obtaining meth, or recovering from meth use
  • Being unsuccessful in attempts to reduce meth use
  • Using meth even in situations where use may be physically hazardous
  • Neglecting social, occupational, academic, or recreational activities or obligations in favor of using meth
  • Using more meth, or over a longer period of time, than a person intends
  • Continuing to use meth even though it is having a negative psychological or physical effect on the person

Physical symptoms:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Withdrawal, which a series of uncomfortable symptoms one experiences when attempting to discontinue meth use
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blood pressure fluctuations
  • Slowed breathing
  • Seizures
  • Sweating or chills
  • Nausea
  • Abnormally slow or fast movements
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormally slow or fast heart rate
  • Experiencing tolerance, wherein a person requires a larger dose of meth in order to achieve a high

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Cravings for meth
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Continuing to use meth despite experiencing significant interpersonal problems resulting from meth use

Effects

Effects of meth addiction & abuse

If an individual’s meth abuse goes untreated, he or she might go through a variety of negative consequences, including:

  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Nasal irritation or bleeding
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores, known as “meth mouth”
  • Heart attack
  • Puncture marks or “tracks”
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Engaging in illegal or dangerous activities to earn money to buy more meth
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Polysubstance use, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Contracting HIV or another sexually-transmitted infection from sharing needles or engaging in risky sex while high
  • Violent injury from associating with drug trafficking
  • Engaging in illegal or dangerous activities to acquire or earn money to buy more meth
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: If an individual abuses meth for a long period of time and then tries to stop his or her use, he or she can develop a number of painful withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Slowed movement
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Vivid unpleasant dreams
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Oversleeping
  • Slowed thought processes
  • Agitation

Effects of meth overdose: If an individual consumes more meth than his or her body can handle, he or she will experience an overdose. Overdoses on meth are highly dangerous and can be deadly. If an individual has been abusing meth and develops some or all of the following symptoms, obtain medical attention immediately:

 

  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain
  • Agitation
  • Organ damage
  • Coma
  • Chest pain