Meth Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Rolling Hills Hospital helps individuals struggling with meth addiction build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Ada, near Oklahoma City, Rolling Hills Hospital is the premier provider of mental health & addiction treatment for adolescents, adults & seniors.

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth addiction and substance abuse

Also known as meth, methamphetamine is an illegal narcotic that is derived from amphetamine. Users of this substance are known to inject and/or smoke this drug and experience a high that can last up to twelve hours at a time. Dopamine, a chemical in the brain, is rapidly released when a person uses meth and ultimately causes users to feel euphoric sensations. The high achieved from abusing meth can occur instantly and chronic abusers of this drug often build up a tolerance for it and quickly become addicted as a result.

Individuals who become addicted to methamphetamine often require treatment to help safely end their abuse of this dangerous substance. Without treatment, these individuals are at risk of overdose and death if usage continues without intervention.Fortunately, there are services and beneficial options for treatment that can greatly improve the lives of those who abuse methamphetamine.


Meth addiction statistics

It has been estimated that over one million people in America have used or abused methamphetamine in their lifetime. Additionally, it has been realized that 600,000 individuals in the United States alone use meth on a weekly basis. Research on this substance has suggested that usage rates among young people are rising and that more and more individuals are requiring treatment to combat this deadly addiction.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

Experts agree that genetics, a person physiological functioning, and certain environmental influences can cause a person to be more vulnerable to drug abuse. Consider the following explanations for why some people will abuse meth and why others are not as susceptible to this form of substance use:

Genetic: Addiction specialists have long believed that addiction can be a heritable condition among family members. Especially for individuals with a first-degree relative who has a history of substance abuse, there is a greater risk for offspring of that relative to eventually abuse drugs, such as meth, as well.

Physical: Prolonged meth abuse can severely damage nerve functioning in a person’s brain. When this happens, an individual may struggle to resist impulses, make sound decisions, and have difficulty abstaining from further drug use. Lastly, when a person’s brain chemistry is altered by a drug, like meth, there is a high likelihood for addiction.

Environmental: Being in environments in which methamphetamine is abused can increase the likelihood of a person eventually using the drug as well. Additionally, if an individual has a history of environmental exposure to substance use or violence, is/was a victim of abuse, neglect, or crime, or experienced some form of trauma, there is a greater chance for a person to use or abuse methamphetamine.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse / addiction / dependence
  • Personal history of abusing other drugs or alcohol
  • Presence of mental health condition(s)
  • Exposure to violence
  • Exposure to crime
  • Peer pressure / being surrounded by people who use the drug
  • Having easy access to the drug

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

The obviousness of signs that infer a person is abusing meth can differ from one person to the next. Depending on the amount of meth that is abused, the longevity of a person’s addiction to this substance, and if there are any additional substances being abused at the same time as meth, the symptoms of meth abuse often vary. The following are examples of symptoms that suggest a person is abusing this harmful drug:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Truancy from school
  • Missing work
  • Unwarranted aggression
  • Rapid speech
  • Incessant talking
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lethargy
  • Erratic behavior
  • Lying
  • Engaging in criminal activity

Physical symptoms:

  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Facial tics
  • Muscle spasms
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • Foul body odor
  • Poor hygiene

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Learning difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Loss of sound judgment and reasoning

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Psychosis
  • Decreased interest in things once enjoyed
  • Extreme shifts in mood
  • Intense anxiety
  • Depression
  • Prolonged manic episodes
  • Agitation
  • Irritability


Effects of meth addiction

An addiction to drugs can make a person susceptible to a number of adverse effects. Long-term usage of methamphetamine can cause the following to happen in the event a person abuses this drug and does seek treatment:

  • Changes to one’s physical appearance
  • Financial strife
  • Damaged relationships
  • Divorce
  • Permanent damage to one’s immune system
  • Job loss
  • Academic failure
  • Homelessness
  • Irreparable cognitive impairment
  • Contracting viruses such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C
  • Sudden death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

In many cases, individuals who abuse meth are doing so to escape from unpleasant symptoms of a mental illness. Additionally, some mental health conditions can be triggered by the abuse of methamphetamine. The listed disorders are know to occur alongside an addiction to meth:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Prolonged usage of meth can ultimately lead to withdrawal and/or overdose if a person does not seek treatment for this form of substance use. The following effects are possible when a person regularly abuses methamphetamine:

Effects of meth withdrawal: In the event a person abruptly ceases their use of methanphetamine, withdrawal is likely to occur. The symptoms of meth withdrawal can render a number of harmful effects that can be life-threatening. The following effects are known to occur when a person is experiencing withdrawal after abstaining from methamphetamine:

  • Psychomotor tics
  • Increased depression
  • Loss of energy
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Intense cravings
  • Suicidal ideation

Effects of meth overdose: When a person chronically uses and abuses methamphetamine, that individual is likely to build up a tolerance for the drug. When this happens, increased amounts and more frequent use of meth are required to produce the same desired effects. Oftentimes, the cravings for meth supersede a person’s awareness that overdose is possible and even near. In the event a person uses meth beyond the point where his or her body is able to metabolize it, overdose is likely to occur. The following effects are examples of what can happen when a person overdoses on methanphetamine:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Lapsing into a coma
  • Death

I couldn't ask for better help when I needed it most and I will forever be thankful to the treatment team.

– Former Patient