What to Know About Methamphetamine Use

6 Signs Your Loved One Is Using Methamphetamine

What to Know About Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine is a powerful drug that can have physical, mental, and emotional consequences when abused. Due to the intense euphoric rush it provides, many people who start off experimenting with the drug end up chasing the initial high and becoming addicted.

With continued abuse, a person’s life will start to fall apart. Knowing the signs and symptoms of methamphetamine use can help you get someone you love meth addiction treatment before their addiction spirals control and potentially even save their life.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use

Methamphetamine use can quickly escalate to addiction, but with it comes a lot of noticeable signs someone is on meth including changes in physical appearance, behavior, and mood.

If you suspect someone you care about could be abusing this drug, look for these 6 signs of meth use:

1. Noticeable Changes in Physical Appearance

The easiest way to know if someone is on meth is typically by changes in their physical appearance. Methamphetamine is known for the drastic effect it can have on someone’s looks even after a short amount of time.

Physical signs of meth use can include:

  • rotting teeth and inflamed gums (meth mouth)
  • meth sores or scratches on the skin
  • track marks
  • drastic weight loss
  • hair that is thinning or falling out
  • red, swollen eyes
  • burn marks on the fingers or lips

The more severe the physical signs of meth use, the more severe the abuse, so it is important to try to get someone’s help at the first signs of trouble.

2. Changes in Behavior

Drug abuse can drastically change someone’s behavior, especially if they become dependent on the substance.

Meth addict behavior may include:

  • Not sleeping
  • Not eating
  • Frequent lying
  • Stealing
  • Taking dangerous risks
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • No longer doing activities they love

As a person continues to abuse meth, it starts to take over their life. Eventually, everything they do will surround their addiction.

3. Changes in Mood

Abnormal changes in mood can be another sign someone is on methamphetamine. These changes are typically extreme and may shift quickly.

In particular, changes in mood from meth use can include:

  • hyperactivity
  • irritability
  • violent outbursts
  • mood swings
  • paranoia
  • anxiety

If you notice that someone you love seems to be especially emotional or something about their mood seems off, it may be a sign of meth addiction. As the severity of the addiction increase, their mood will often get worse.

4. Tweaking

In particular, one of the more obvious meth addiction symptoms is something known as “tweaking.

” Tweaking is an extreme change in mood when someone experiences insomnia and/or anxiety for an extended period of time – often three days or longer.

Tweaking occurs because the person is coming down from a meth binge and can no longer achieve their desired high. The person may not sleep for several days and as a result becomes paranoid, anxious, and irritable.

5. Meth Paraphernalia

A tell-tale sign of methamphetamine use in your loved one is the presence of meth paraphernalia. Meth can be injected, snorted, or smoked, and all these methods require some form of equipment.

Methamphetamine paraphernalia can include:

  • glass pipes
  • needles
  • rolled up dollar bills, empty ink pens, or cut straws
  • aluminum foil, spoons, or cans
  • little baggies
  • tourniquets

A person abusing meth may try to hide these items or leave them hidden in plain sight. If you find any of this meth paraphernalia in their room, home, or car, it is ly time to intervene.

6. Problems with Several Areas of Their Life

Another way to tell if someone is on meth is to pay attention to what is going on in their life. Because meth is so addictive, people who become dependent on this drug will start to prioritize it over everything else. As a result, other areas of their life will suffer.

Someone on meth may:

  • Get fired
  • Drop school
  • Struggle financially
  • Have relationship problems
  • Face legal issues

Getting someone into inpatient treatment sooner rather than later could help them salvage some of these aspects of their life before too much damage is done.

What to Do If Someone is Showing Signs of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that can quickly consume a person’s life and lead to a variety of negative consequences. If you can learn to recognize the early signs of meth use, you can intervene sooner rather than later and potentially even save their life.

If someone you know is abusing drugs, there is something you can do:

  • Confront them calmly
  • Express your concerns for their well-being
  • Do your research on meth addiction
  • Don’t enable their addiction
  • Try to get them into a drug rehab
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself

While knowing someone you love is abusing methamphetamine is overwhelming, we are here to help. At Vertava Health Massachusetts, formerly Swift River, we offer a variety of personalized treatment programs to help individuals overcome addiction and live a clean and fulfilling life.

Источник: https://vertavahealthmassachusetts.com/blog/6-signs-loved-one-using-meth/

Alcohol & Other Drugs

What to Know About Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine is a psychoactive (mind altering) drug that affects how we think and behave. It is a stimulant that speeds up our breathing, heart rate, thoughts and actions.

Originally a prescription medication, most methamphetamine available today is manufactured in uncontrolled labs using chemicals and other ingredients that may be toxic. It comes in different forms—pills, powder, crystalline chunks called 'crystal meth'—and can be used in different ways: swallowed, snorted, injected, smoked or inserted (in the vagina or rectum).

Why do we use methamphetamine?

Since the 1930s, people have been using methamphetamine for a wide range of reasons. Some people were prescribed the drug to treat conditions such as asthma, depression or obesity. Others have used it to increase their alertness and energy.

For instance, some military personnel and shift workers have used methamphetamine to stay awake and perform well on the job. While rarely prescribed today, some people continue to use the drug for fun, to heighten their sexual experiences or to increase their concentration.

But any drug, methamphetamine can be harmful.

When used to help increase our focus and attention, a small amount of methamphetamine may be helpful. But when we use the drug repeatedly, we can start needing an increasing amount in order to feel its positive effects. And while methamphetamine may help us feel more energized in a social situation, continuing to use it as a tool can affect how we engage with others and build relationships.


What happens when we use methamphetamine?

When smoked or injected, methamphetamine moves quickly into our bloodstream and goes directly to the brain. When ingested or inserted, it's absorbed through mucous membranes and takes about 20 minutes to take effect.

Methamphetamine increases naturally occurring chemicals in our brain, activating a series of nerve cells in the brain's «pleasure pathway.» We may experience an intense high followed by several hours of energy and contentment.

But the effects of methamphetamine can be different for different people. Instead of feeling content, some of us may feel anxious or restless.

Some of the factors that can influence how methamphetamine will affect us include our:

  • past experiences with the drug,
  • present mood and surroundings, and
  • mental and physical health condition.

Health effects

Sometimes, when we think about methamphetamine, we forget that it was once commonly prescribed to treat various conditions. This may be because of the risks involved in using the drug today.

Because methamphetamine is usually made in uncontrolled laboratories, there is no way to know what's mixed in it.

And when we inject or smoke the drug, we are at risk of infections as well as HIV and hepatitis, if sharing needles or pipes.

Small amounts of methamphetamine may make us feel energized and outgoing at a party. Using a large amount to get high very quickly may lessen our control over our behaviour, leading to risk-taking such as having unprotected sex. And using more than moderate amounts may lead to agitation and irritability or overdose.

Regular use of methamphetamine may lead to temporary psychotic symptoms such as seeing things that aren't there.

People with a family history of psychosis, or who are living with a psychotic disorder, may be more vulnerable to the long lasting effects.

Frequent use of methamphetamine over time can also increase our risk of heart disease and stroke, especially those of us with a cardiac condition. A woman who uses the drug when pregnant may give birth to a baby with a low body weight.

Signs of overdose

Using methamphetamine involves a risk of overdose. How much and how often we use affects our degree of risk.

And since it is not possible to know the purity and content of the drug, we can accidentally use too much. Methamphetamine causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise.

Signs of overdose include fast or no pulse, fast or no breathing, hot and sweaty skin, confusion, anxiety, vomiting and seizures.

If someone you know overdoses on methamphetamine, call 911 right away. Remain with the person. If the person is conscious, try to walk them around or keep them awake. If the person is unconscious, roll them onto their side into the recovery position so they won’t choke if they throw up.

Recovery position

  1. Raise person's closest arm above their head. Prepare the person to roll toward you.

  2. Gently roll the person's entire body toward you. Guard their head while you roll them.

  3. Tilt the person's head to keep their airway open. Tuck their nearest hand under their cheek to help keep their head tilted.


When is using methamphetamine a problem?

Using methamphetamine is a problem when it negatively affects our life or the lives of others. Many of us may think this refers only to people who regularly use large amounts, but even a single occasion of use can lead to a problem.

For instance, if we share pipes or needles, we are at risk of infection. Or using too much might lead us to make poor decisions that result in problems with relationships or the law.

What’s important to recognize is the potential for adverse consequences of use in any context and over time.

One consequence that can develop is tolerance. This happens when it takes more of the drug to achieve the positive effects. If we regularly use large amounts of methamphetamine, we are at risk of dependence. This means feeling we need the drug to function and feel normal.

The reasons people use methamphetamine influence their risk of developing problems. For instance, if a person uses methamphetamine to have fun, only occasional social use may follow. But when a person uses methamphetamine to cope with a long-term problem such as social anxiety, then more long lasting and intense use may follow.

People who develop a dependence on methamphetamine may experience signs of withdrawal, including tiredness, disturbed sleep, headaches, anxiety and depression.

Mixing methamphetamine with other substances

People sometimes mix methamphetamine with other substances to experience different feelings or to offset the effects. For instance, a person may use a sleeping pill to help them relax and rest after using methamphetamine. But combining substances is risky as they can act in unexpected ways. The following are some common combinations and possible results.

Alcohol and other depressants.

These are substances that slow down our heart and make us feel more relaxed.

Combining alcohol with methamphetamine increases heart rate more than using methamphetamine alone, increasing the risk of adverse cardiovascular effects.

Combining methamphetamine with depressants such as sleeping pills may mask the effects of each drug, potentially leading to risky decisions such as driving a vehicle.

Other stimulants.

These are substances such as tobacco and cocaine that increase our heart rate. Using methamphetamine with other stimulants increases the stress on our cardiovascular system and puts us at risk for experiencing problems such as chest pain, irregular heart rate or overdose.


Combining cannabis with methamphetamine may mask the effects of each drug, potentially clouding our judgment and leading to risky behaviours such as unprotected sex.


When prescription or over-the-counter medications are used with methamphetamine, there is the potential for side effects or for the medicinal benefits to cancel out. Taking the time to read medication labels or consulting with a healthcare professional can reduce these risks.


How to make healthier choices about methamphetamine

Some of the risks of using methamphetamine are related to how we use it. For example, smoking or injecting the drug (or any other drug) can lead to infection and transmission of disease if we share needles or pipes. The following are some other useful guidelines to follow.

Lowering the risks

  • If smoking, wash your hands, start with a small amount, use a shatterproof pyrex pipe and your own mouthpiece, inhale slowly and exhale immediately.
  • If injecting, wash your hands, rotate your injection site but avoid the neck, clean the injection site, use clean needles and never share them.

Not too much. Managing the amount we use in a given period can help to decrease risky behaviours.

Tip: Buy less so you use less, and set a limit to how much you will use at one time.

Not too often. Limiting how often we use helps reduce harms to ourselves and others over time.

Tip: Reflect on your pattern of use and identify the situations in which you are ly to use. And then try to break the pattern by consciously planning other activities for those situations.

Only in safe contexts. Trusting and feeling safe in your surroundings can make injecting or smoking easier and therefore safer.

Tip: Use with a buddy. Using alone means no one will be there to help you if you overdose.


In Canada, it's illegal to make, sell, buy or use methamphetamine. Some BC communities have enacted bylaws to deal with issues related to properties where illegal drugs have been produced. For example, property owners may be required to allow for inspection of the premises and pay the city for the costs to clean up the property.


What to do if you or someone you know wants to explore change

To better understand how substances play a role in your life, visit the You and Substance Use Workbook on the Here to Help website: www.heretohelp.bc.ca. This website also features detailed information on substance use and mental health.

You can also find information about a wide variety of substance use issues on the Centre for Addictions Research of BC website: www.carbc.ca.

The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit www.cisur.ca.

© 2014 | Back to top | PDF | More info sheets

Источник: https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/learn-about-methamphetamine

Methamphetamine DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

What to Know About Methamphetamine Use

Crystal methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

How do people use methamphetamine?

People can take methamphetamine by:

  • smoking
  • swallowing (pill)
  • snorting
  • injecting the powder that has been dissolved in water/alcohol

Because the «high» from the drug both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a «binge and crash» pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a «run,» giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.

Short-Term Effects

Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same health effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. These include:

  • increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • decreased appetite
  • faster breathing
  • rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure and body temperature 

Currently, most methamphetamine in the United States is produced by transactional criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico. This methamphetamine is highly pure, potent, and low in price.

The drug can be easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medications.

To curb this kind of production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail stores to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine, and take steps to limit sales.

Methamphetamine production also involves a number of other very dangerous chemicals. Toxic effects from these chemicals can remain in the environment long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of health problems for people living in the area. These chemicals can also result in deadly lab explosions and house fires.

Long-Term Effects

People who inject methamphetamine are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

These diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids that can remain on drug equipment.

Methamphetamine use can also alter judgment and decision-making leading to risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, which also increases risk for infection.

Methamphetamine use may worsen the progression of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Studies indicate that HIV causes more injury to nerve cells and more cognitive problems in people who use methamphetamine than it does in people who have HIV and don't use the drug.1 Cognitive problems are those involved with thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.

Long-term methamphetamine use has many other negative consequences, including:

  • extreme weight loss
  • addiction
  • severe dental problems («meth mouth»)
  • intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • anxiety
  • changes in brain structure and function
  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • sleeping problems
  • violent behavior
  • paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they aren't

In addition, continued methamphetamine use causes changes in the brain's dopamine system that are associated with reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning.

In studies of people who used methamphetamine over the long term, severe changes also affected areas of the brain involved with emotion and memory.

2 This may explain many of the emotional and cognitive problems seen in those who use methamphetamine.

Although some of these brain changes may reverse after being off the drug for a year or more, other changes may not recover even after a long period of time.3 A recent study even suggests that people who once used methamphetamine have an increased the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the nerves that affects movement.4

Are there health effects from exposure to secondhand methamphetamine smoke?

Researchers don't yet know whether people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or have other health effects. What they do know is that people can test positive for methamphetamine after exposure to secondhand smoke.5,6 More research is needed in this area.

Can a person overdose on methamphetamine?

Yes, a person can overdose on methamphetamine. An overdose occurs when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death.

In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. (CDC Wonder Multiple Causes of Death—see #42 on Meth RR.)  It is important to note that cheap, dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to street methamphetamine without the user knowing 

How can a methamphetamine overdose be treated?

Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the intent of:

  • restoring blood flow to the affected part of the brain (stroke)
  • restoring blood flow to the heart (heart attack)
  • treating the organ problems

Is methamphetamine addictive?

Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • severe depression
  • psychosis
  • intense drug cravings

How is methamphetamine addiction treated?

While research is underway, there are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction. The good news is that methamphetamine misuse can be prevented and addiction to the drug can be treated with behavioral therapies. The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies, such as:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations ly to trigger drug use.
  • motivational incentives, which uses vouchers or small cash rewards to encourage patients to remain drug-free

Research also continues toward development of medicines and other new treatments for methamphetamine use, including vaccines, and noninvasive stimulation of the brain using magnetic fields. People can and do recover from methamphetamine addiction if they have ready access to effective treatments that address the multitude of medical and personal problems resulting from long-term use.

  • Methamphetamine is usually a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine looks glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.
  • Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine (a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy).
  • People can take methamphetamine by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting the drug.
  • Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is involved in movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.
  • Short-term health effects include increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Long-term health effects include risk of addiction; risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis; severe dental problems («meth mouth»); intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching; violent behavior; and paranoia.
  • Methamphetamine can be highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings.
  • Researchers don't yet know if people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or suffer other health effects.
  • A person can overdose on methamphetamine. Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions.
  • The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction so far are behavioral therapies. There are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction.

Learn More

For more information about methamphetamine, visit our:


  1. Chang L, Ernst T, Speck O, Grob CS. Additive effects of HIV and chronic methamphetamine use on brain metabolite abnormalities. Am J Psychiatry. 2005;162(2):361-369. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.2.361.
  2. Volkow ND, Chang L, Wang GJ, et al.

    Association of dopamine transporter reduction with psychomotor impairment in methamphetamine abusers. Am J Psychiatry. 2001;158(3):377-382. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.3.377.

  3. Wang G-J, Volkow ND, Chang L, et al. Partial recovery of brain metabolism in methamphetamine abusers after protracted abstinence. Am J Psychiatry.

    2004;161(2):242-248. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.2.242.

  4. Curtin K, Fleckenstein AE, Robison RJ, Crookston MJ, Smith KR, Hanson GR. Methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse and risk of Parkinson’s disease in Utah: a population-based assessment. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015;146:30-38. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.10.027.
  5. Bassindale T.

    Quantitative analysis of methamphetamine in hair of children removed from clandestine laboratories—evidence of passive exposure? Forensic Sci Int. 2012;219(1-3):179-182. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.01.003.

  6. Farst K, Reading Meyer JA, Mac Bird T, James L, Robbins JM.

    Hair drug testing of children suspected of exposure to the manufacture of methamphetamine. J Forensic Leg Med. 2011;18(3):110-114. doi:10.1016/j.jflm.2011.01.013.

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA.

Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NIDA. 2019, May 16. Methamphetamine DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

NIDA. «Methamphetamine DrugFacts.» National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16 May. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

NIDA. Methamphetamine DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine. May 16, 2019

Источник: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

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