Meth Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Meth is a powerful and habit-forming illegal drug that can make users suffer a variety of emotional and physical side effects. The longer and more frequently meth is abused, the harder it will be for someone to quit using the drug.

Recovery from meth addiction begins with drug detox followed by inpatient and/or outpatient rehab. A drug rehab in New Jersey can help someone struggling with an addiction to meth take back control over his or her life.

What is Meth?

Meth is short for methamphetamine. It is a stimulant drug that is commonly obtained and abused illegally. However, it is also available in a prescription form under the name Desoxyn. Desoxyn may be prescribed in rare instances of obesity and ADHD.

When purchased on the street, meth looks like white or clear glass fragments that have been cooked together and/or broken apart. Meth’s appearance is where many of the street names come from. Popular meth street names include:[1]

  • Crystal meth
  • Ice
  • Shards
  • Crystal
  • Speed
  • Tweak
  • Chalk
  • Crank

Meth is usually manufactured in clandestine laboratories and it contains pseudoephedrine (a stimulant found in some cough medications) or ephedrine as one of the active ingredients. It may contain a number of toxic chemicals, including:[2]

  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Iodine crystals
  • Red phosphorus
  • Drain cleaner
  • Battery acid
  • Lithium

Meth is considered one of the most addictive drugs and people who become addicted to it may require intensive addiction treatment.

Signs of Meth Abuse

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that nearly 1.6 million Americans used meth the previous year.[3] As a stimulant, meth produces a rush similar to that of crack cocaine. Meth may be smoked, injected, or snorted.

When consumed, meth creates a euphoric sensation in the brain and gives users a rush of energy. After the initial rush, people will stay high for up to 24 hours depending on the dose they consumed and the potency of the drug.

Common side effects of meth include:

  • Elated mood
  • Talkativeness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Alertness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Picking at the skin

Meth users may develop skin sores, abscesses, and infections from picking at their skin. If they use meth chronically, they may even experience tooth decay, better known as “meth mouth.” People who abuse meth may also lose weight rapidly due to a loss of appetite.

Lastly, people who stay awake for several hours or even days and abuse meth may suffer extreme paranoia. Meth users often feel as though someone is watching them or coming after them. As a result, they may be aggressive or distrustful towards others.

Symptoms of Meth Addiction

An estimated 964,000 people aged 12 or older were thought to have a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017.[3] After repeated meth use, the mind and body will begin to crave the high produced by the drug. And, after users take the drug for long enough, their body will become dependent on it, too. As a result, people who are addicted to meth will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to get clean.

Symptoms that may indicate a meth addiction include:

  • Weight loss, tooth decay, skin sores, and other visual signs of meth abuse
  • Staying up for days on end
  • Isolating from friends, family, loved ones, and co-workers
  • Lying to friends and family about substance abuse
  • Spending excessive time or money obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of meth
  • Cravings for meth
  • Continuing to use meth despite negative consequences on one’s health, finances, career, home life, or social life

People who are addicted to methamphetamine can find help from a New Jersey drug rehab center.

Meth Detox

Detox is the first step in treating meth addiction. Detoxing from meth is typically not life-threatening, however, if someone has a history of mental illness or is addicted to other substances in addition to meth, they should detox at an inpatient facility.

Symptoms of meth withdrawal include:[4]

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Headache
  • Lack of motivation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Low energy
  • Increased appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

Medications like benzodiazepines can be prescribed to help patients reduce their agitation and help them rest while detoxing.

Meth Addiction Treatment

After detox, patients should attend a drug treatment program consisting of therapy and peer support. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment for meth addiction is behavioral therapy and a comprehensive approach consisting of:[5]

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Family education
  • Individual counseling
  • 12-Step support
  • Drug testing

Although no medications are currently approved for treating meth dependency, counseling and peer support are highly effective. Treatment may last anywhere from 30-90 days, with outpatient programs lasting even longer.

Find Addiction Treatment in New Jersey Today

Meth is a highly addictive and dangerous substance. When someone battles meth addiction, it may seem as though there is no way out. Fortunately, a New Jersey addiction treatment program can show people how to live a sober life.

If you or a loved one are addicted to meth, contact one of our dedicated treatment providers today to learn about your different rehab options.

References:

  1. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  2. https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071736/
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-people-who-misuse-methamphetamine

Medically Reviewed: February 22, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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