Futures Recovery Healthcare

Signs & Symptoms of Meth Abuse


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As with many addictive drugs, meth creates powerful sensations and an energy rush by increasing dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain.

Meth From Use to Abuse to Addiction

The first time most people use meth, the sensations that stick out are the euphoria, the increased energy levels, and the heightened alertness. In an effort to replicate these feelings, people will use the drug again and again. Eventually, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, so people take larger doses to get the same high. After a time, they also start to feel cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug, and this means they’ve become physically dependent on it. Dependence, though different from addiction, is considered a precursor that indicates addiction.

With continuing and increasing use, the meth will eventually cause physical and biochemical changes in the brain that cause a compulsive need to use the drug, regardless of the consequences to a person’s life or health. This is the hallmark of addiction, and once it takes hold, it can be challenging to break without professional help from an accredited drug treatment facility.

Physical Signs & Symptoms of Abuse

The effects of meth on the brain and body are very powerful, and as a result, the physical symptoms of meth abuse are also very noticeable. There are a few telltale signs of meth abuse, including:

  • Intense scratching
  • Rotting teeth
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Acne
  • Sores on the skin
  • Increased energy and physical activity
  • Picking at the skin
  • Increased productivity
  • Engaging in repetitive or meaningless tasks
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching
  • Increased alertness
  • Hyperactivity

Psychological Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Meth abuse doesn’t just affect people physically. There are also psychological warning signs of abuse. One of the most common symptoms of drug abuse is an inability to function without the drug, and this means a person might be irritable, irrational, and depressed if they’re not high. Other psychological meth abuse signs include:

  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Mood swings
  • Obsessive behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Euphoria
  • Unpredictable or violent behavior

Behavioral Signs & Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Behavioral signs of meth abuse are some of the most noticeable because people’s personalities often drastically change when they’re abusing or addicted to it. For instance, they may stop caring about things that once interested them, like hobbies and pastimes. Similarly, people who are abusing meth often stop hanging out with friends in favor of social circles that enable their drug abuse. Other behavioral meth abuse symptoms include:

  • Declining performance at work or school
  • Neglecting responsibilities, friends, family, and commitments
  • Not paying attention to appearance or personal hygiene
  • Financial problems or not being able to account for spending
  • Doctor or prescription shopping
  • Getting caught stealing or other legal troubles
  • Lying and becoming secretive
  • Social isolation

Effects of Meth Abuse on the Brain and Body

When a person takes meth, the drug stimulates the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which is responsible for thought, movement, processing information, controlling the senses, and interpreting one’s environment. As such, meth has a number of short-term and long-term effects on the body and brain. Some of the immediate effects of taking meth include:

  • Headaches
  • Elevated blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heavy sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Meth has lasting physical effects on the body that persists long after a person stops. The longer the abuse, the more symptoms a person will experience, and the worse they’ll tend to be. Some of the common long-term physical effects of meth use are:

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Being more susceptible to illness
  • Reproductive health issues
  • Damage to brain cells
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Organ damage
  • Seizures
  • Risk of sudden death

Finally, because meth also takes a toll on the brain and the central nervous system, it also has a number of long-term psychological effects, as well. For instance, while meth use may cause paranoia when somebody has the drug in their system, long-term abuse can cause lingering paranoia that persist even when the person is sober. Other long-term psychological effects of meth abuse include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sensation of something crawling under the skin
  • Irritability
  • Mood disorders
  • Impaired sex drive
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Lethargy

Get Help Today

Meth is a highly potent and addictive drug, and abuse can lead to both addiction, negative long-term consequences, and even death. But treatment for meth abuse and addiction is available, and Futures has the facility, staff, and therapy offerings to help get patients on the road to long-term recovery. If you’ve noticed the signs of meth abuse or addiction in yourself or a loved one, Futures is here to help. We have detox programs, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and aftercare programs that are specifically designed to facilitate and encourage long-term sobriety. Call today to learn how we can help you or a loved one overcome a meth addiction.


Our team is here to guide you through your path to recovery.

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(866) 351-7588
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