signs of meth use

Is a Loved One on Meth? Signs of Meth Use You Should Never Ignore

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methamphetamine abuse is on the decline nationwide. Still, in many communities and regions, meth continues to destroy lives and families at an unprecedented rate.

The signs that a friend or family member is using meth is different from signs of any other form of drug abuse. The effects of meth last for hours or even days because the drug drives users to binge.

When someone uses meth, that person’s behavior is dramatically different from the person you know. Users may behave erratically and exhibit signs of anxiety, euphoria, and paranoia.

Some people even become violent as their brains react to the effects of meth. Other may try to cope with the sensitivity and alertness that comes with meth use.

Do you think you see any of these signs of meth use in someone you know and love? While meth use remains uncommon among the population at large, those who do struggle with meth use and addiction need help.

In this article, you will learn what symptoms of meth use look like and how to help your addicted loved one.

The Profile of the Average Meth User

Unlike alcohol or marijuana, methamphetamine comes with a specific profile. This is partially because of the low rates of its use.

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 1.2 million people used methamphetamine in the last year. This includes 440,000 who used it in the previous month.

Thankfully, the number of adolescents reporting meth use dropped significantly from the first survey in 1999. The same report showed that the average age of new users in 2012 was between 19 to 20 years old. Today, young users are more likely between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.

Data also suggests that the majority of those admitted to treatment for methamphetamine use are non-Hispanic white males.

Where in the U.S. Is Meth Use Most Common?

Since the start of the ongoing opioid crisis, meth use has been on the decline. However, in recent years, methamphetamine use resurged in both its old strongholds and new, unlikely places.

In the early 2000s, meth often came from local labs or abroad cartels. Today, some cartels from Mexico bring it across the border for national distribution. In fact, the amount of meth seized in San Diego, Laredo, and Tucson far outweigh meth seized in all other areas of the U.S.

Some states that are now struggling with the meth use include Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and even Hawaii.

Meth violations in Montana more than tripled in the five years between 2010 and 2015.

In Oklahoma, the top cause of drug-related deaths is methamphetamine. Oxycodone takes a distant second place.

Law enforcement in South Dakota and Hawaii are both battling against rising rates of meth use.

So, essentially, meth use can happen anywhere. If your friend or loved one has a history of drug use, particularly heroin, then a meth problem may not be far behind.

What Are the Signs of Meth Use?

Meth use has a few tell-tale signs that come in the form of behavioral changes like:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep loss
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight fluctuations

One of the most recognizable signs of meth use is insomnia and other sleeping problems.

Why Does Meth Cause Sleep Loss?

Staying awake for days at a time is one symptom associated with methamphetamine. But why does it happen?

The primary effect of meth is euphoria. Methamphetamine causes the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Releasing these neurotransmitters isn’t a bad thing, and drugs like prescription anti-depressants are designed to do the same thing. However, the effects of meth differ dramatically.

The effects of meth can last for as long as 12 hours, but it varies from person to person.

The High

Upon first injecting, smoking, or snorting meth, the user typically experiences an intense euphoria that lasts only a few minutes. During this period, the user might also experience:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Thought-blending
  • Sexual stimulation

It’s the first rush that encourages continued use, which can lead to addiction. Because the first high only lasts a few minutes, users find it hard to let it go.

After the Initial High

When those first five minutes pass, the high moves into the second phase. The user still feels euphoria, but it’s less intense. The other effects, like sexual stimulation and hyperactivity, remain the same.

Once the euphoria passes, users want more. This typically leads to binge use. Someone chasing the initial rush of euphoria may continue using meth for days at a time.

As time progresses, users begin “tweaking” for four to 24 hours. The euphoria is gone, but there are still intense physical symptoms. Tweaking usually entails:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Scattered thoughts

As this point, a user could be awake for days, which only contributes to the symptoms.

The Crash

After a while, users enter a period known as “the crash.”

A crash lasts from one to three days. Someone crashing will want to continue using meth, but they will also feel physically exhausted.

A period of normalization comes at the end of this cycle. It usually lasts between two to seven days. During normalization, many of the psychological and physiological symptoms subside. However, users still experience cravings— they still want to chase the initial euphoria that comes with the high.

If they don’t use meth again for a while, they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


The intensity of meth withdrawal can easily lead to relapse.

In a clinical study, researchers found that users experience severe depressive symptoms during meth withdrawal. Though, people experience these symptoms across a broad scale with the average person suffering a mild-moderate level of severity.

Psychosis also occurs during meth withdrawal.

Most of these symptoms subside within a week, but some users may continue to experience cravings for up to five weeks after their last high.

What Are Some Other Signs of Meth Use?

Some of the signs of meth use are social.

Someone who regularly uses meth might experience changes like:

  • Mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Strange sleeping patterns
  • Psychotic or paranoid behavior
  • Lack of care for hygiene or personal appearance
  • Asking to borrow money, stealing, or selling their possessions

These are all signs of meth use, but drug abuse may not always be the cause of these behavioral changes. With this in mind, it is essential to reach out and understand any changes in your loved one’s behavior before jumping to any conclusions about drug abuse.

How to Recognize Meth

Finding the drug itself is the most significant sign that a person is either using or planning to use.

Meth tends to be:

  • Odorless
  • Soluble (i.e., dissolvable)
  • White, clear, or transparent

If you find a bag of white crystalline powder or cloudy crystals that look like ice, then it is likely that you have discovered meth.

It’s also vital to look for signs of any paraphernalia, including:

  • Needles
  • Syringes
  • Razor blades
  • Surgical tubes
  • Pieces of glass
  • Burned spoons
  • Short, cut straws
  • Rolled up paper bills (of money)

Finding both drugs and drug paraphernalia is a pretty definite sign of meth use. If you have found evidence that your loved one has a meth problem, here’s what to do next.

When Someone You Love Is Using Meth

Even if you discover that someone you care about is using meth, it’s important to remember that the chemical properties of meth make it easy to become dependent or even addicted after only a few uses. Meth cravings can last for a month after last use— it’s a difficult drug to beat.

So, don’t judge your loved one. The best thing you can do to help when someone you know is on meth is to listen.

Listening will allow your loved one to open up about the problem— and also about whether or not your loved one wants help.

As you listen, remember that you are there to support your loved one. You can ask questions, but be respectful. The decision to enter rehab is not up to you.

Starting Positive Change

Meth is one of the most challenging drugs to quit. So, if your loved one isn’t immediately ready for rehab, you shouldn’t push.

People have to want to change to make the most of rehab.

Instead, maintain your relationship, but set boundaries that promote safe behavior. Make it clear to your loved one what is and isn’t acceptable. Enforce clear consequences for any broken boundaries.

Also, be sure to avoid enabling any harmful behavior. For example, be very careful about giving money to your loved one if he or she is still actively using meth.

Gather Support from Others

Trying to help a loved one tackle a meth addiction is stressful. The user may need help, but you shouldn’t be the only one to offer love and support.

Get support for both your loved one and yourself. Safety is the most important thing for both the person you’re concerned about and yourself.

Then, when everyone involved is ready, consider holding an intervention to talk to your loved one about giving up meth. It’s a hard drug to kick, but nothing good comes from meth use.

If your loved one decides to get help, look into different treatment options.

Rehab and Treatment Options for Methamphetamine

Treatment for meth addiction can take place in several different settings. Popular methods of care include:

In most cases, treatment begins with detox, which helps manage any lingering withdrawal symptoms. Remember, withdrawal symptoms from meth use tend to last up to one week. Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience depressive symptoms, while others deal with psychotic symptoms.

The difficulty of undergoing detox often lies in dealing with meth cravings, which last up to four weeks after the last dosage.

And, depending on the patient, medically managed withdrawal is sometimes necessary to avoid fatal side effects.

Other types of detox may include:

  • Ambulatory detoxification
  • Medically supervised detox
  • Non-medical residential detox
  • Clinically managed residential detox

Keep in mind that no one form of drug detox is better than another.

What to Look For in an Effective Treatment Program

Getting and staying sober depends on getting the right form of support. Different programs work for different people, and no single treatment works for everyone.

Methamphetamine rehab tends to work best when it includes both cognitive behavioral programs and contingency management interventions.

Some other effective methods include:

  • Drug testing
  • 12-Step support
  • Family education
  • Individual counseling
  • Participation in sober activities

As of right now, there are no medications on the market that aid meth abstinence. However, ongoing trials are working to change that.

Ultimately, support from counselors, friends, and family play the most critical role in a successful recovery from meth addiction.

Meth Addiction Isn’t the End

Methamphetamine is a dangerous and addictive drug that continues to ravage communities in the United States. It is a cheaper alternative to opiates, and its abundance fuels its widespread use.

If you spot signs of meth use in someone you know, it doesn’t mark the end. Willingness to seek treatment and enrolling in an appropriate treatment program will help users get and stay sober.

Are you or your loved one ready to start your recovery? Contact us today to talk to a counselor and initiate an intervention.

cost of meth addiction

What Is Your Meth Addiction Costing You?

Did you know that for the price of a steak dinner, you can buy 1/2 gram of meth?

In the average steakhouse, a ribeye costs about $50.00. If you’re not a meat-eater, substitute your favorite meal at a pasta restaurant. You’ll still spend close to what it costs to buy enough meth to get the average addict through only a day or two.

For people who aren’t addicted to meth, it doesn’t typically make sense that anyone would choose meth over a wonderful dinner at a restaurant. But it might not sound strange to you if meth is a big part of your daily existence.

Maybe you’ve never thought about your meth use in comparison to what you’d spend at a good restaurant. Is your mouth watering yet?

If you’re craving a steak or your favorite vegan dish right now, we want to help you understand why using meth might prevent you from enjoying a good meal.

Take a few minutes and learn what you’re really paying to use meth. You’ll be surprised to find out the cost of methamphetamine isn’t just felt in your wallet.

The Cost of Methamphetamines

Any substance use costs money, but the cost to use meth can be huge. Of course, cost depends on the area of the country you live in, but if you’re a casual user, plan on spending roughly $27,000 per year. The addicted user spends $74,000 on meth on average.

These numbers are just what comes out of our wallet. They don’t include what your doctor makes to treat you if you overdose, or what your lawyer pockets if you get into legal trouble.

The financial impact deepens even further for users who get caught with meth in their possession.

Pay for Your Lawyer’s Vacation

The discussion starts with a look at legal fees. Lawyers require retainer fees, which are paid upfront in most cases. Depending on whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you may pay as much as $10,000 for the retainer.

The total dollar amount for legal fees depends on how complex the case is, and how long it takes to fight it.

Due to the huge increase in meth laws at both the federal and state level, penalties are now more severe than ever for people caught with the drug. Depending on the state you live in, the amount you’re caught with and your lawyer’s ability to fight your case successfully, you could:

  • Pay a fine
  • Serve a misdemeanor jail sentence
  • Serve a lengthy prison term for a felony conviction

The costs to fight a legal case can bankrupt an individual, but there are other ways meth users suffer financially.

Treatment Isn’t Cheap

Addiction recovery, in general, is costly, but meth addiction recovery is also an intense and lengthy process, furthering driving up costs.

Treatment starts with a 30 to 60-day detox followed by at least another 30 days of intensive inpatient therapy. Once a user is discharged from inpatient treatment, they should begin outpatient therapy. Length of treatment and cost depends on the severity of the addiction and the type of treatment program chosen.

The cost for treatment ranges from $15,000 to $27,000. Medical insurance may pay for a portion of the bill, but usually, patients are responsible for the rest.

The question of how much you and/or your family can afford to pay for treatment is certainly important, but perhaps even more important is finding a high-quality facility where you receive the best care possible.

The impact on your wallet is significant, but the physical costs are also severe.

Your Body Pays Dearly

No one starts out using drugs to deliberately destroy their body. But the end results of long-term use can alter a user’s ability to live a healthy life.

Unlike some other illicit drugs, meth doesn’t require a long “breaking in” period.

First-time users typically experience an intense pleasure rush. They come back the next time expecting that same ecstatic feeling only to realize they need more of the drug each time they use. The increasing need for more of the drug to get the same initial effect is what makes meth so addictive.

Long-term use hammers away at the user’s brain and cognitive abilities. It also destroys their appearance and their emotional well-being.

The Brain

When someone first uses meth, it releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain chemicals associated with the experience of pleasure. Long-term use depletes dopamine stores in the brain and also destroys dopamine receptors.

Using meth changes brain chemistry and destroys the area of the brain responsible for pleasure. The drug becomes the body’s traitor and, in some users, the ability to experience any pleasure is destroyed.

Damage to the brain caused by meth can also be permanent.

Some users experience long-term issues including a decline in reasoning, problems with judgment, and a decrease in motor coordination. If that’s not bad enough, meth users exhibit violent behavior caused by an increase in adrenaline.

The fight-or-flight reaction to adrenaline may cause extreme anxiety. Some users are also pushed into a hyper-alert state, which can lead to obsessive and disturbing behaviors and psychological issues.

The Heart

If the damage to your brain isn’t bad enough, consider your heart.

Meth is a stimulant. Stimulants make the heart race and the blood vessels constrict. These two activities can result in heart attacks and strokes.

Cardiac symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and inflammation of blood vessels close to the brain and in the lining of the heart have doctors concerned about long-term damage caused by meth use.

People who use stimulants, including meth, are at an increased risk for hemorrhagic strokes, which happen as a result of broken blood vessels in the brain. Unfortunately, heart damage and damage to the blood vessels may be permanent even if a meth user is able to stop using.

Meth users pay the price of their addiction physically with damage to the brain and cardiac system.

The Teeth

Damage to teeth from using meth doesn’t only happen in long-term users, but the longer you use, the more damage you cause to your teeth and gums.

It’s common for meth users to have a mouthful of stained and decaying teeth.

Dentists believe that this substantial tooth decay is caused by a combination of drug-induced changes including dry mouth, poor diet, and horrible dental hygiene. Dentists try to treat the resulting cavities and gum disease, but often the damage is so bad that teeth must be extracted.

Meth users also grind their teeth often, which explains the high incidence of cracked and broken teeth.

Long-term meth use wreaks havoc on your teeth, but your skin and hair also take a serious beating.

Skin and Hair

Meth use typically adds several years to a user’s appearance.

Meth destroys tissues and blood vessels, creating an environment where the body has a hard time healing itself. The skin pays the price by becoming dry and dull. Users may also develop acne.

Heavy use makes some users feel like they have bugs crawling under their skin. They react by constantly scratching and picking at their skin in an attempt to get rid of the bugs. Most heavy meth users have sores and scars caused by the constant scratching and also tend to lose hair for the same reason.

Meth use causes sporadic eating patterns resulting in extreme weight loss. Meth users rarely look healthy. Instead, they have a frail and haunted appearance.

Meth Steals Your Social Life

The first thing most people associate with meth use is the high financial cost and negative health effects. Yet associated social issues are just as costly and painful.

Soiled Reputation

People who use meth are often judged not only by society but by their own family and friends. Users fall victim to one of the many myths about addiction. Once labeled, it’s difficult to repair a ruined reputation. As wrong as it is, most users will encounter people who believe that those who abuse drugs are bad people who should get what they deserve.

It’s not difficult to understand why some people may feel this way. After all, addicts often hurt the people who care most about them, and it’s not easy to get over being hurt in this way.

Reputations can be restored and so can relationships, but change takes time and perseverance.

Involvement in Criminal Activity

Meth users don’t always turn to crime. However, because meth can cause a person to use poor judgment, users often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

When a person is high on meth, they may commit both petty and violent crimes.

By the time a user is involved in the criminal justice system, they’ve likely alienated at least a few people. One of the most unfortunate costs of meth use is the loss of social support at a time when it’s needed the most.

Risky Sexual Behavior

One effect of meth is increased libido. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong or abnormal about feeling sexual desire, meth users sometimes engage in risky sexual behavior due to this dramatic increase in libido.

Users often aren’t careful about who they have sex with, and expose themselves to people who are capable of causing them physical harm.

When considering the cost of crystal meth, you have to consider contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including Hepatitis B & C, as well as HIV.

Problems at Work

When asking the question, “how much does meth cost?,” it is important to look at how meth use affects the user at work.

Meth users have more issues with absenteeism than employees who are not users. Excessive absenteeism usually ends up in termination, putting users in a cycle of frequent job changes. This isn’t just an issue for the user.

Employers feel the high cost of meth through absenteeism, workmen’s compensation claims, and high rates of employee turnover.

Addiction in general spills over into the user’s job life, often resulting in poor morale, job instability, and a negative impact on safety for both the user and fellow workers.

Family Dynamics Suffer

Having an addict in the family is never an easy situation to navigate. Most families feel embarrassed to let others know their family has a problem. It’s never easy to admit a family is broken.

Consider the financial cost of meth to the user and it’s no shock when families become the user’s victim. By the time a user is addicted, they’ve likely lost or at least decreased their source of income. Many users steal from friends and family.

Even if you don’t steal from your family, your meth use still affects the way you relate to them. Meth often causes irrational and sometimes violent behavior. Maybe you’ve physically harmed someone you love or destroyed their personal property. Meth users are not always pleasant to be around, so it’s not unusual for the family to avoid interacting with them when they are using.

The family bears the burden of being broken by addiction.

The Next Generation

If you have children, you’re at risk of passing your addiction down to them.

Most loving parents would never wish it upon their children to experience drug addiction, but children of addicts are at a higher risk of becoming addicts themselves.

Science hasn’t located a specific “addiction gene”, but there are genes that make certain drugs cause intense pleasure, making it harder to quit using drugs and making withdrawal much more unpleasant. These genes can be passed on to future generations.

What children see as normal behavior is powerful as well. If your kids witness you using meth (or any other drug), over time they will perceive using as normal. It takes either you getting help or the child getting out of the environment to allow them to learn that using drugs isn’t normal.

You have the power to break the cycle by taking charge and beginning treatment.

It’s a Disease

Despite the heavy toll meth takes on multiple areas of user’s lives, it’s important to understand that meth addiction is a disease, not simply bad behavior.

Yes, you’ve likely behaved badly and hurt those you love. But consider this: if a friend is diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, do you condemn them and tell them they’re a horrible person? Of course not! Hopefully, you reassure them and encourage them to take care of their health.

Addiction should be viewed just like other diseases. You find help, accept it, and work on getting well.

Are you tired of paying the cost of methamphetamines? If you’re ready to take back your life, let Addiction Treatment Services help. Contact an intervention specialist today!