While on meth, people are hyper, feel invincible and don’t sleep. As the dependence on meth starts, expect mood swings and apathy. Physical signs (like meth sores, meth mouth and extreme weight loss) signal meth addiction and long-term meth use. Finding meth is also a clear sign of meth use.
Signs of Meth Addiction
Anyone that uses meth even though they want to stop or cut back is diagnosable as Methamphetamine Use Disorder (the official name for crystal meth addiction).
Before changes in physical appearance are obvious, you may notice:
- Mood swings
- Disinterest in hobbies / social isolation
- Irritability and anger
- Sores from scratching
- Weight loss
- Life consequences (jail time, loss of parental rights, job loss, theft, damaged family relationships, divorce)
Nearly half of meth users become meth dependent.
Faces of Meth
Many meth addicts look like executives or truck drivers. It’s not always the shocking “faces of meth” we see in the media.
That said, meth addiction is associated with disturbing physical consequences like:
- Pale skin, skin sores from scratching
- Sunken eyes
- Rotting Teeth
- Low body weight
- Facial Tics
- Brain damage
- Problems with coordination and movement
Meth is notorious for causing tooth and gum decay and other dental problems, known as meth mouth or meth teeth.
There are three ways in which doing meth can damage your mouth and teeth:
- Bruxism – Like other stimulants, meth causes bruxism or the grinding of the teeth. When people use meth long-term, they tend to grind their teeth to the point where they become flattened.
- Dry Mouth – Meth also causes a lack of saliva or dry mouth. Saliva is important for dental health because it creates a buffer that prevents teeth from decaying. Meth dry mouth removes this buffer and puts teeth at a greater risk for decay.
- Neglect – People who are caught up in any addiction neglect their personal hygiene, sometimes going for days without brushing their teeth. Plaque buildup and food particles can cause cavities to form.
Meth Mites / Meth Sores
Meth mites are a term to describe the hallucination of crawling on the skin.
The crawling sensation causes meth users to pick or scratch at their skin, resulting in sores and lesions, usually on the face and arms. Meth face sores are one of the more shocking signs of meth use. These sores often become infected and can be dangerous if left untreated.
When using meth or other stimulants, the pupils dilate or become larger.
The pupils remain dilated while the individual is feeling the effects of the meth, but return to normal as the effects of the drug wears off.
Another common side effect of meth use is psychosis. Meth psychosis is characterized by hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and delusions.
According to the medical journal CNS Drugs, up to 40% of meth users experience symptoms of meth psychosis.
Most of the time meth psychosis is temporary and goes away after a person stops using. However, long-term psychological damage is possible, especially at high doses.
Signs Someone is On Meth
The signs someone is high on meth include:
- Feelings of invisibility
- Rapid breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive itching
- Reduced appetite
- Talking faster or more than usual (speech also may not make sense)
- Argumentative, aggressive or obsessive-compulsive behavior
(This is the opposite of the signs of heroin addiction. Opioids slow down the body, while meth puts the brain and the functions of the body in overdrive).
How long does a meth high last?
The “high” from meth lasts 4-14 hours – much longer than drugs like heroin or cocaine.
- The extra rush from smoking or injecting meth lasts the first 5-30 minutes of the high.
- Those addicted to meth often use more meth before the high wears off to stay up for days at a time. (These binges are called runs or tweaking).
Whether the high lasts 4 or 14 hours depends on the tolerance that has been built up, the meth purity, other drugs taken at the same time, the dosage of meth and how quickly a specific body metabolizes stimulants.
What are the signs of meth withdrawal?
Meth withdrawal symptoms kick in around 24 hours after the last dose and can last up to three weeks. Symptoms are most intense in the first week People typically start to feel better during week two.
The signs of meth withdrawal:
- Anxiety and Irritability
- Sleep problems (insomnia and hypersomnia)
- Increased appetite
- Meth cravings
People who have built up a significant tolerance to meth usually have more intense withdrawal symptoms. The risk of relapse is high during withdrawal. (See What is relapse?).
Finding hidden meth is a way to know for sure that someone is using it.
What does meth look like?
Most meth is sold in crystal or powdered form, where it is smoked, snorted or dissolved and injected.
- Crystal Meth – looks like clear or white shards of ice. These shards are often smoked in a pipe
- Meth Powder – White or light gray powder
Sometimes, dealers press powdered meth into pills. In pill form, meth can take on many different colors and shapes.
People who make meth sometimes add coloring during the production process to tint their meth a certain color. Blue is a popular color because of the myth that pure meth has a blue tint.
The idea of blue meth being pure was popularized by the show Breaking Bad, but in reality, the purest crystal meth is completely clear.
Meth pills are methamphetamine powder put inside pill capsules or pressed into a tablet. This makes the product easier to sell and more appealing to people who don’t snort, smoke or inject.
Methamphetamine and prescription Adderall have similar effects, so many manufacturers mix meth powder with fillers and press it into a counterfeit Adderall tablet. In recent years, law enforcement has confiscated counterfeit Adderall pills made with methamphetamine.
Meth that is made into counterfeit pills is especially dangerous because someone could easily think they are taking Adderall, but are actually taking methamphetamine.
What does meth smell like?
In its powder, pill, and crystal forms, meth is odorless.
But, you can smell meth when it is being cooked or when it is smoked. It has an ammonia-like odor, similar to many cleaning products. Most people describe it as a “chemical” smell.
Does meth show up on a drug test?
Yes, most standard five- and ten-panel drug tests include a test for methamphetamine use. You can also buy meth tests over-the-counter that only look for methamphetamine, and do not screen for any other drugs.
A standard dose of meth is detectable in urine for about 24 hours. However, meth stays detectable for 2-4 days after the last use if the individual uses it consistently at high doses, such as in the case of meth addiction.
How can I get help for meth?
If you are noticing signs of meth abuse, find a treatment center. By the time symptoms are noticeable to others, it’s past occasional use.
Rehabs (like JourneyPure’s meth rehab centers in Tennessee and meth addiction rehab center in Kentucky) treat meth addiction. Plus, these centers treat anything that might have contributed to the meth use in the first place – like social anxiety, depression or trauma.
Whether it’s with JourneyPure or not, please get help!
JourneyPure.com doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, count records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the fields and their own personal recovery.
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