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Meth Symptoms and Warning Signs

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Crystal methamphetamine | Photo by DEA

Methamphetamine is one of the most highly addictive substances and without drug addiction treatment, it can severely affect one’s physical and mental health. Being aware of the early signs of meth addiction can help you or a loved one seek drug rehabilitation before it leads to fatal consequences.

Knowing the Right Time for Drug Rehab in Meth Addiction

Don’t be fooled by its white and almost crystal-like appearance. Methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous drug. During the height of meth abuse in the United States, it was named “America’s Most Dangerous Drug” by popular media.

According to a report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, death and hospitalizations related to meth use nearly tripled between 1991 and 1994. The Treatment Episode Data Set also revealed a 43 percent increase in patients who enrolled in drug rehab due to methamphetamine addiction.

Congress managed to thwart meth labs that are operating in the country, and for years, it no longer seemed like a threat. Unfortunately, methamphetamine abuse is once again on the rise as drug cartels smuggle pure and low-cost meth into our borders. These days, you only need $5 to get a hit.

The cheap price of meth has resulted in an increase of related deaths and hospital stays. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that amphetamine-related hospitalizations rose by 245 percent from 2008 to 2015.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 255 percent increase in deaths caused by stimulant drugs – most of which are from meth.

Knowing the signs of meth addiction is going to help you or a loved one get immediate help before it starts to get worse. The sooner that drug addiction treatment is started, the better your chances are for recovery.

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine or meth is a type of stimulant drug. Simply put, it increases activity in the body, which is why it is also called “speed” on the streets. Most of its effects are on the central nervous system. It triggers the release of high amounts of dopamine – a natural brain chemical which in this case, reinforces addictive behavior.

How can I tell if someone is using meth?

People often take meth by smoking or snorting the powder, swallowing it in pill form, or dissolving the powder in water or alcohol and injecting it intravenously. It depends on how it was taken, but the effects of meth will start to kick in within a few minutes to an hour.

These can last anywhere between 8 and 24 hours depending on the quality of the drug and the amount consumed. During which time, you can watch out for early signs of meth abuse in a loved one. Afterwards, the person will begin to show signs of withdrawal, which can also be used to detect meth addiction in its early stages.

Weeks, months, and years of methamphetamine use will eventually take a toll on a person’s health and appearance. By this time, the signs of addiction will be more obvious. Still, it is never too late to undergo drug rehab programs especially since some long-term effects of meth use are reversible.

Immediate Signs of Meth Abuse

The following signs can be seen is someone who has recently taken meth:

  • Flushed skin

  • Dry mouth

  • Wakefulness

  • Increased physical activity

If you are the one taking meth, you will experience symptoms which other people may or may not notice with close observation.

The symptoms of meth use are as follows:

  • Aggressiveness

  • Irritability

  • Paranoia

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Decreased appetite

  • Increased heart rate and breathing

  • Itchiness

  • Muscle twitching

  • Hallucinations

  • Elevated body temperature

  • High blood pressure

These signs and symptoms are short-lived and occur in the first 24 hours of taking meth. So if you suspect that a friend, family member, or partner is abusing the drug, simply looking for these signs may not be enough. Your next best option is to watch out for withdrawal symptoms of meth addiction.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can occur with any addictive substance. In the case of methamphetamine abuse, they usually show in the first few days of quitting. However, some withdrawal symptoms can last for up to three weeks.

The symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Red and itchy eyes

  • Cold and clammy skin

  • Headaches

  • Joint pain

  • Body shaking

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Fast breathing

  • Irregular heartbeat

If you want to observe someone for possible meth withdrawal, you can also check for the following signs:

  • Day 1-2: Extreme tiredness, too much sleeping, increased appetite

  • Day 7-10: Fatigue, feelings of unease, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, and depression

  • Day 14-21: Problems with sleeping and appetite, decreased heart rate

During withdrawal, meth users will experience intense cravings which can make it difficult to quit their addiction. Undergoing detox prior to drug rehabilitation can improve a person’s chances of recovering.

Long-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

Prolonged exposure to methamphetamine leaves lasting effects on a person’s health. It changes the way the brain produces dopamine, which results in impaired body coordination and reduced verbal learning. Studies have also shown how meth has negative effects on memory, cognitive abilities, and emotional response.

A person who has been using meth for a long time will have these signs:

  • Severe weight loss

  • Memory loss

  • Sleeping problems

  • Violent behavior

  • Anxiety

  • Extreme paranoia

  • Hallucinations

  • Severe itching and skin sores

  • Dental problems – called “meth mouth”

  • States of confusion

The Risks of Meth Addiction

Besides drug addiction, methamphetamine abuse has been linked to numerous health risks. For instance, people who inject meth with infected needles have a high risk of acquiring Hepatitis B and HIV.

Other health risks of methamphetamine are:

  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage

  • Irreversible damage to the heart and brain

  • Psychosis and other mental health problems

  • Heart attack and stroke

Drug overdose is another serious risk associated with methamphetamine addiction. Signs of meth overdose include chest pains, difficulty breathing, seizures, high or low blood pressure, irregular or slowing of the heartbeat, and elevated body temperature.

If you see these signs in a loved one, or if you happen to experience them, it is important that you seek immediate medical care. Otherwise, the meth overdose may prove to be fatal.

For more information about meth addiction treatment at drug rehab center in Portland, our compassionate and experienced team at Recovery Blvd Treatment Center is here to help. You can visit our premiere rehab center at 1316 SE 12th Avenue Portland, OR 97214 or you can call us today at 503-897-1916.

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