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Crystal Meth Addiction: Stages, Dependence, Symptoms, and Treatment

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What Is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine—a substance that is widely abused throughout the country. Its widespread illicit production dwarfs that of its pharmaceutical counterpart—marketed as Desoxyn—a stimulant medication with very limited clinical application.

Methamphetamine is a white powder that can be used orally, snorted, smoked, or injected. Crystal meth appears as white or cloudy chunks that resemble broken glass. This form of the substance is most often smoked, but it can also be ground to a finer powder for insufflation or injectable routes.

How Is Crystal Meth Made?

Manufacturing methods vary, but most illicit methamphetamine is created by a process which combines amphetamine and/or amphetamine derivatives with various other chemicals to result in a relatively inexpensive to produce, yet potent final product. The majority of methamphetamine is manufactured and distributed illegally in the U.S. and sold at a low cost. Crystal meth is often manufactured in home labs using rudimentary (and very dangerous) methods.

Regardless of the manufacturing process, the drug is known for its high potency and strong propensity to lead users towards addiction.

If you’re addicted to meth, recovery is possible. American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help you find treatment anywhere in the country. Please call us free at .

Effects of Crystal Meth Use

Because crystal meth is a stimulant, it speeds up various processes throughout the body and brain. The “high” resulting from usage can elicit:

  • Feelings of euphoria.
  • Increased energy.
  • Increased focus.
  • Diminished need for sleep.

Like with other addictive substances, the negative effects quickly begin to outweigh the positives. The unwanted effects of crystal meth use include:


  • Unhealthy weight loss.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Anxiety.
  • Confusion.
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms.
  • Violence.
  • Irritability.
  • Changes in brain signaling.
  • Cardiovascular disturbances.
  • Problems with memory and cognition.

As use continues and escalates, the negative impacts become more extreme and more damaging. For example, crystal meth addicts frequently suffer from a condition known as meth mouth—where use directly and indirectly leads to the teeth becoming damaged, cracked, and decayed. Additionally, weight loss can be so extreme that it leads to malnutrition and organ damage.

The effects of crystal meth use extend beyond the individual abusing the drug to the people around them. Those who choose to manufacture the substance in their homes put those with whom they live at extreme risk. The chemicals and byproducts of crystal meth production can harm or kill others in the home immediately (e.g. an explosion) or over time (chronic exposure to toxins).

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Once the drug is used, traces of crystal meth can stay in the body for a long period of time. The high from the drug can last for more than 12 hours. During this period of time, you may notice signs and symptoms that include:

  • Different activity levels and sleep/wake schedule.
  • Changing relationships marked by more conflict in established relationships. Often someone high on crystal meth will be aggressive or interrupt others in conversations.
  • Problems with money/inability to pay bills.
  • Possible problems with the law.
  • New interests and activities or less interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Needing more of the substance to create the same high—a phenomenon known as tolerance.

Someone addicted to crystal meth will continue using the drug even when they experience negative life changes. Those struggling with their addictions may be unable to quit using even if they desire to stop.


Like with many drugs of abuse, in the case of crystal meth, addiction is highly interconnected with physical dependence.


Dependence means that the body becomes used to the drug—so much so that it functions or is perceived to function differently without it. Because of dependence, the body will crave the substance in order to feel and operate normally. When use is ended, the user may experience:

  • Fatigue with extended periods of sleep.
  • A potentially profoundly depressed mood.
  • Feeling confused or disorganized.
  • Increased irritability.

Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment

It will be important to evaluate for the stage or severity of crystal meth use because this information will help to shape effective treatment. Medically assisted detox will not be always be offered for meth abuse treatment because the immediate consequences of ending use are not dangerous. Most recovering methamphetamine addicts will only require sleep, food, and water in a drug-free environment at the onset, though someone who is receiving treatment while tweaking or experiencing severe psychological repercussions may benefit from inpatient services.

The best addiction treatment options will acknowledge and attempt to manage the potential impact of protracted withdrawal symptoms that may persist long after substance use has ended. The person in recovery will do well to receive ongoing, long-term treatment that incorporates aspects of:

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. To learn more about treatment for crystal meth addiction, please call AAC free at . Our treatment advisors can talk you through your options and help you find a program that’s right for you.

Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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