Crystal methamphetamine is a dangerous drug with serious, and often disturbing, side effects. As meth abuse gets worse, the symptoms become more dangerous to the individual and noticeable to others.
Signs of Meth Use
*Disclaimer: These signs and symptoms are not exclusive to methamphetamine use or addiction. Other medications or conditions may produce similar side effects.
Immediately after using meth, people usually exhibit the following side-effects:
- Rapid breathing
- Talking fast or more than usual
- Excessive itching and scratching
- Reduced appetite
Early Signs of Dependence
With continued meth use the side effects get worse, including changes in mood and physical appearance. By this point, the individual is dependent on the drug:
- Sores from scratching
- Extreme weight loss
- Mood swings
- Disinterest in hobbies
- Irritability and anger
Signs of Meth Addiction
Long-term consequences of meth addiction include:
- Rotting Teeth
- Facial Tics
- Brain damage
- Problems with coordination and movement
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.
What are meth pills?
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. In both cases, it can have an ammonia-like odor, similar to many cleaning products. Most people describe it as a “chemical” smell.
How long does a meth high last?
The effects of meth can last anywhere from 8-24 hours.
When it is smoked, snorted or injected meth reaches its peak effects within a few minutes. Most people who abuse meth prefer these methods of taking the drug because of the intense rush and euphoria.
Once the peak effects wear off, the individual will begin to come down from the high and start to crave more. The residual effects can linger for hours after.
What do crystal meth users look like?
Despite the prevalence of memes sharing “faces of meth,” as someone who treats addicts, I can tell you that meth users come in all shapes, sizes, and appearances.
With that said, someone who is far into an addiction or is heavily using meth is likely to exhibit the characteristic features we associate with crystal meth:
- Pale skin
- Sunken eyes
- Poor dental health
- Sores from scratching
- Extreme weight loss/low body weight
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 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.
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.
Do your pupils change when you do meth?
Yes, they do. 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.
Does meth show up on a drug test?
Yes, most standard five- and ten-panel drug tests look for methamphetamine use.
For the most accurate results, some companies send their urine tests to a lab for urinalysis drug screening. Lab tests are more accurate and give more detailed results, but they are also more expensive and time consuming.
You can also buy meth tests over-the-counter that only look for methamphetamine, and do not screen for any other drugs.
Does meth have withdrawal?
Yes, you can withdrawal from methamphetamine.
Withdrawal symptoms usually kicking in around 24 hours after the last dose of meth and can last up to three weeks. The symptoms are most intense in the first week, and 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.
What should I do if I need help?
If you are starting to notice the signs of meth abuse, now is the time to get help. Usually, by the time the symptoms are noticeable to others, the individual has progressed past occasional use into dependence or addiction.
Inpatient treatment centers (like JourneyPure’s drug rehab in Tennessee) are fully equipped to help you kickstart your recovery. Get your life back today!
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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