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Meth Abuse Symptoms, Signs and Addiction Treatment

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Signs and Symptoms
  3. Effects of Meth Abuse
  4. Meth Abuse Treatment
  5. Meth Statistics
  6. Teen Meth Abuse
  7. Resources, Articles and More Information

meth_5f250Methamphetamine is a mouthful to say, and it's even harder to get off the drug. Meth abuse is one of the leading causes of crime in certain parts of the United States thanks to its incredible addictiveness and easy availability.
Meth Abuse Quiz question 1
It's considered more addictive and more intense than amphetamine, which is what it is derived from, and it comes in a very nasty form: crystal meth. Crystal meth delivers an incredibly intense high very quickly that lasts between 4 and 12 hours, which is much longer than the high from crack cocaine.

Videos on crystal meth

What is crystal meth?

Crystal meth is illicitly produced methamphetamine in a crystalline form. Most commonly smoked, but also snorted or injected, methamphetamine acts as a powerful and immediate-acting stimulant. Its euphoric effects last for only a short time, which rapidly leads to repeated use and addiction. Crystal meth can have extremely damaging effects on both the mind and body, leading to persistent brain damage, violent behavior, weight loss and dental problems. (source)

How much are people spending on meth?

United States

Signs and Symptoms

Meth was originally used to help fighter pilots and bomber pilots stay away during long missions, and it's still used as a "study aid" today. It increases alertness in much the same way that caffeine does, albeit much more intensely and just as addictively.
Meth Abuse Quiz question 2
Generally, those who take meth suffer from appetite loss, mania or hyperactivity, aggression, high blood pressure and high sex drive in the short-term. This increases the risk of heart attack and general injury, and in the case of crystal meth, the users may be out of control every moment of their waking lives.

Those who attempt to make meth face deadly circumstances. There are a number of ways to make the drug, but most methods that can be used outside a well-regulated chemistry lab involve caustic components along with phosphorus. A number of attempts have failed spectacularly and have led to structures burning down or even blowing up. The rise of the mini meth lab (a 2-liter bottle that you shake) has resulted in a number of serious incidents, and given the general lack of control that meth abusers have, these incidents are set to increase.
Meth Abuse Quiz question 3
Since meth is often made in back-alley makeshift labs, it is never pure, and it will likely contain a significant amount of caustic impurities. These can lead to additional problems.

Other names for crystal meth

  • Meth
  • Crystal
  • Ice
  • Glass
  • Crank
  • Speed
  • Tweak
  • Chalk
  • Tina
  • Uppers (source)

Effects of Meth Abuse

drug abuse counselorThe long-term effects of meth abuse are horrific. Meth addicts tend to lose weight very quickly, thanks to the appetite-suppressing effects of methamphetamine. As a result, they start to look emaciated and can suffer from serious malnutrition issues. Other long-term effects include mental health issues and psychoses. Psychoses simply cause a person to believe in things that are not true and have a distorted view of reality, which can make them very dangerous, both to themselves and other people.
Meth Abuse Quiz question 4
Meth affects the brain in other ways. It causes tics - involuntary reactions - to very minor stimuli. It also raises body temperature over time, resulting in organ damage as the body cannot cope with the increased temperature. One of the unusual symptoms of meth abuse is the feeling that bugs are crawling under abusers' skins - meth bugs - which leads to them trying to scratch them out. This creates open lesions that can become infected. Hair may also fall out.

Meth abuse also leads to depression and increases the likelihood of obsessive behavior, as well as addiction. Finally, because it decreases inhibitions, meth users often have unprotected sex, resulting in disease and unplanned pregnancy. In short, people on meth see their lives spiral out of control very rapidly.

Street price of methamphetamine

United States

D-meth & unknown isomer
@ 0.25 pure gram

Meth Abuse Treatment

addiction treatment centerMeth abuse should always be dealt with in an inpatient rehab center wherever possible because the drug is incredibly addictive. Meth abuse treatment typically starts with reducing the amount of meth being taken slowly so as to avoid more serious withdrawal symptoms. In an inpatient meth rehab center, medication dosing, therapy and activities can be strictly controlled.
Meth Abuse Quiz question 5
In addition, the person will likely be underweight due to meth abuse. Psychological issues can be dealt with as they arise, including psychosis, depression or paranoia.

As the patient becomes more lucid, it's likely that they'll be ready for counseling, and that typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy. It can also involve psychotherapy to help the patient cope with grief, anxiety and depression. If the patient has problems sleeping, a mild sedative might be prescribed for a short time.

Once the therapy has taken hold and the patient is ready to go home, sustained recovery is the final stage. The patient may stay in a halfway house or a sober living house to bridge the gap between leaving the rehab center and returning to normal life. The person will also likely need to attend a peer support group, normally one that uses a 12-step-style program. Doing this can help the individual become better integrated back into society. To help a Meth addict, call our 24/7 hotline at (800) 943-0566 for more information.

How many youth use methamphetamine non-medically?

United States

Yearly deaths linked to abuse of psychostimulants such as meth

United States

Deaths involving psychostimulants like meth and other amphetamines (CDC WONDER query, ICD-10 code T43.6, “Poisoning by, adverse effect of and underdosing of psychostimulants”)

Annual market size for crystal meth

  • $13 billion (US, 2010) (source)

DEA domestic drug seizures


Source: DEA (STRIDE)

Google Trends: Searches for “crystal meth”

Typical legal penalties involving crystal meth

  • Methamphetamine is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II drug. (source)
  • Repeated trafficking in a Schedule II drug such as methamphetamine – even fewer than 50 grams - can carry a life sentence. (source) State penalties for possession of Schedule II drugs can include prison sentences of up to 15 years. (source) (source 2)
  • The effects of methamphetamine can cause impaired driving and lead to DUI charges. (source)

How much crystal meth is consumed every year?

United States

Meth-related emergency room visits by people seeking detox services

United States

Emergency room visits due to suicide attempts involving crystal meth

United States

Meth-related emergency room visits

United States

Purity levels of methamphetamine

Retail level

Amount of crystal meth seized


How many people used methamphetamine non-medically in the last month?

United States, aged 12+

How many people used methamphetamine non-medically in the last year?

United States, aged 12+

Meth Statistics

Meth Abuse Quiz question 5
As of 2012, Missouri was the state with the highest number of recorded meth incidents at 1,825, according to the DEA. In contrast, Delaware and Hawaii had the lowest number of incidents at zero. In terms of population, Texas had the lowest number of incidents, excluding the zeroes, at just 32 in its population of 26 million. However, the data doesn't define what an incident is, and it's possible that certain states may be reporting meth arrests and the like in a different way than others.

Teen Meth Abuse

Around one in 22 teens will have tried meth, although this figure does include methamphetamine that has been prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy, and a number of other conditions. Teen meth abuse isn't particularly widespread compared to marijuana abuse, but it is a concern.

Resources, Articles and More Information

One of the more harrowing looks at meth is the Meth Project, which details exactly what meth does to one's body. It also acts as a repository for meth articles. FRANK has a short and succinct webpage on meth addiction, as does the NIDA.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.