Drug and Alcohol

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Signals and Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine warning signs: what to know about the signs of meth abuse. Learn how to recognize a meth problem by reading our blog.

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Do You Know What They Are?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 1, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

In a world where danger can lurk in unexpected places, few substances rival the destructive power of methamphetamine. Its grip on individuals is relentless, wreaking havoc on lives, families, and communities.

Methamphetamine warning signs can help a person discover if a loved one (or even themselves) has a problem with meth abuse.

Stats About Methamphetamine:

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports indicate that 2.5 million people in the United States of America have been hooked on methamphetamine in the past year. In addition, nearly 1.6 million people can be diagnosed with methamphetamine use disorder or meth addiction. They also state that in 2021, 32,537 people lost their lives due to psychostimulant overdose.

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, known as meth, is a stimulant that acts on our central nervous system. It is based on amphetamine. Most meth that’s abused in the US is made in clandestine “superlabs” from various chemicals. It is a controlled substance in the United States.

Like amphetamines, methamphetamine was originally used as a weight loss drug and decongestant. However, it is classified as a controlled substance since it has a high drug abuse potential. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed methamphetamine under the Schedule II category since 1970.

Some people are prescribed Desoxyn, which is the only pharmaceutical form of meth. It is a second-line treatment for obesity and severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Most people who abuse methamphetamine use illicit forms like crystal meth and meth. Meth is a white, sometimes yellow, brown or pink crystalline powder that is generally bitter and odorless. It can dissolve in any liquid used by smoking, snorting, or injecting. Some may orally consume it by making it in a compressed pill form.

Crystal meth, on the other hand, is a crystal-shaped substance that is transparent or blue. Most people smoke crystal meth. 

Sometimes drug traffickers cut meth with other drug substances so that they have to sell fewer drugs at the same price. This is a dangerous practice as fentanyl is often used to cut meth, leading to deadly methamphetamine overdoses. A few street names for methamphetamine include glass, crank, chalk, ice, sped, crystal, and tweak.

Many drug manufacturers cook and create meth in small, home laboratories. Some professional meth makers produce them in high-tech labs known as super labs. These labs are often controlled by drug cartels. Meth labs are considered very dangerous because the production process involves the release of toxic, flammable, combustible, and deadly gases and chemicals. 

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Abuse and Addiction of Methamphetamine

Meth is an addictive stimulant that’s extremely addictive – meth can be addictive after just one hit. This is due in part to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the body’s reward system. This neurotransmitter also induces motivation, learning, memory retention, and reward. Dopamine is naturally released in our brain and body in small amounts. However, stimulants like methamphetamine can cause the body to release far more of it.

This release feels euphoric, which is why people continue taking methamphetamine to achieve that heightened experience. However, over time, people build up a tolerance to the effects of methamphetamine. This means that their body has become used to the presence of meth in the system, and they need to increase the meth dosage to experience that similar high. Tolerance is a phenomenon that is related to constant drug use.

The user may soon become physically dependent on the drug. When they’re not using meth, they feel intense emotional lows along with flu-like symptoms. These are called withdrawal symptoms. Meth withdrawal symptoms are major methamphetamine warning signs that someone’s meth use is truly out of control.

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: How Long Does Methamphetamine Stay in Your System?

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can stay in your system for up to 72 hours after use. It is detectable in urine, saliva, and blood tests. In general, methamphetamine will remain active in the body for 1-4 days after the last dose was taken.

The amount of time it takes to clear out of the system depends on several factors, such as how much was taken, the user's general health and metabolism, and their overall tolerance for the drug.

Urine Test for Methamphetamine

For urine tests, methamphetamine can be detected up to 4 days after last use.

Saliva Test for Methamphetamine

Saliva tests are usually most accurate within the first 24 hours of use and may detect Methamphetamine up to 3 days later.

Blood Test for Methamphetamine

Blood tests are typically used to detect acute or recent drug use and can detect methamphetamine up to 24 hours after last use.

Hair Test for Methamphetamine

Hair tests are used to detect the presence of methamphetamine in the system over a longer period of time, typically up to 90 days. However, it is important to note that hair tests may not be as accurate as other testing methods.

Overall, the amount of time that methamphetamine will stay in your system depends on several factors and can vary from person to person.

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Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Bingeing on Meth

Stimulants like methamphetamine are generally abused in binge and crash fashion. Even before the effect has worn off, people try to binge on the drug to maintain that euphoric effect. They do not let the drug be worn off and continue achieving the derided high feeling.

Some people also indulge in what is known as 'running.' This drug run refers to those people who forgo food and sleep to get high. They end up being consumed by the drug for several days. Both these patterns are followed by intense and severe forms of withdrawal symptoms. 

What are Some Methamphetamine Warning Signs?

Meth is considered one of the most dangerous drugs on the market because of its mental and physical toll on the individual. It severely alters the user's body, brain, and behavioral function.

Due to the power of methamphetamine, these methamphetamine warning signs are easy to see. Like any other drug, meth users become uninterested in everyday life. They suddenly lose interest in things that they loved before getting into meth.

Next, meth use begins to cause serious trouble in a person’s life. Methamphetamine warning signs include job loss, legal trouble, and finding harmful social connections based on meth use.

Most people try to hide their addiction disorder. Unfortunately, methamphetamine warning signs always become visible.

Some individuals exhibit the following physical and behavioral signs:

  • Paranoia

  • Weight loss

  • Dilated pupils

  • Skin sores

  • Twitching

  • Agitation

  • Hyperactivity

  • Jerky movements

  • Rapid eye movement

  • Low appetite

  • Meth mouth or burns around the mouth.

  • Dental decay with rotten teeth and gums.

  • Mood swings

  • Changed sleeping patterns

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: What is Tweaking

Some people may also show signs of tweaking. Tweaking is a warning sign when a person goes through a state of anxiety and insomnia, which results in strange, obsessive behaviors. This lasts three to fifteen days and happens to people who binge on methamphetamine.

So, toward the end of the binge, they will stop feeling high. Tweaking will have side effects such as confusion, paranoia, craving, and irritability. People can also get violent and experience hallucinations.

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Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Symptoms of Meth Addiction

The symptoms of addiction can vary from one user to another. They can change depending on factors like intensity and pattern of addiction, body functioning, immune system, psychological disorder, and physical trauma. However, there are some common symptoms experienced by most meth users. These

Physical Symptoms

This includes poor hygiene, decaying teeth, muscle spasms, weight loss, facial tics, acne, decaying teeth, and track marks. 

Cognitive Symptoms

This includes impulsivity, disorientation, indecisiveness, poor memory, confusion, hallucination, delusion, and paranoia. 

Behavioral Symptoms

This includes explosive outbursts, relationship issues, irresponsibility, becoming erratic, stealing, and lying to friends and family. 

Psychosocial Symptoms

This includes agitation, mood swings, hypomania and depression, emotionally unstable, and suicidal ideation.

What Are Some Methamphetamine Side Effects? 

Methamphetamine addiction can lead to several cardiovascular problems, such as rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and risk of heart attack. It can also cause hyperthermia, where the body's temperature increases to a dangerous degree.

There are both short-term and long-term side effects of using meth:

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects like irregular heartbeat, lowered fatigue levels, increased awareness, improved attention span, higher respiration, euphoria, rush, and decreased appetite.

Methamphetamine Warning Signs: Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects of using methamphetamine are depression, cirrhosis, brain damage, kidney disease, heart attack, seizure, liver damage, STDs like HIV/AIDS, psychosis, risky behavior, stroke, legal problems, and even death. 

Treating Methamphetamine Drug Dependence

Methamphetamine is a potent drug whose addiction treatment can be difficult. However, full recovery is possible with a practical and comprehensive treatment program. Unfortunately, people who try to go through recovery with professional treatment often end up worsening their condition. It is essential to understand that meth is dangerous and the hardest to overcome without medical supervision. 

Interventions

The first step is to stage an intervention. This is the most crucial and hardest step. Some people are not comfortable when confronted. Meth users are prone to angry outbursts, aggression, and isolation; they may not take it positively and can try to push you away. Most people with methamphetamine addiction will even deny that they have any problems.

This is why opening a conversation is important. They should not feel targeted or pushed into a corner. Go for a professional intervention specialist if you cannot handle this. Just remember that the end goal is to provide medical treatment.

Choosing Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction

The second step is to choose between outpatient and inpatient drug rehab care. Achieving sobriety from meth addiction is not easy or linear. There can be several underlying psychological reasons that should be carefully addressed. Inpatient care is often better and more comprehensive for such patients. Here, they will live under the watchful eye of the physicians and rehab staff.

As a result, the relapse risk lowers, and the condition is monitored closely. Such programs can last anywhere between thirty to ninety days. 

Drug Detox

The third step is to go through medical drug detox. Detoxing from meth is the first real step of recovery. This is a procedure in which the traces of methamphetamine are removed from the patient's body. Medically monitored detox has several benefits, such as round-the-clock services, prescription medications, stable withdrawal symptoms, and overall better transition. 

The Recovery Process

The last step is starting the structured recovery process. Once the process mentioned above has been completed, formal counseling will begin. First, therapists, aided by patients, will try to identify the pattern and underlying cause of abuse. Then, they provide emotional support and a stable therapeutic environment to work out the issues.

Finally, patients will learn how to cope with their condition healthily. Some techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivation interviews, contingency management, 12-step facilitation, and a relapse prevention program. 

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Don’t Go Through Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment Alone. The Forge Recovery Center Will Help.

Methamphetamine warning signs are often easy to see. However, every person is unique and has a different body structure, immune system, and metabolism. It’s possible that addiction signs in one individual do not match others. This is the reason why every journey toward drug recovery is different.

While some may require a short drug program to return to normalcy, others may not. Recovery is not a linear process, and neither is addiction.

On top of that, there is always a looming threat of relapse. It is essential to understand that relapse is also a part of sobriety. One should not demonize it and should be aware of it. Thousands of people in recovery have to go through a relapse, but the journey does not end there. People get back and succeed with hard work, determination, and patience. 

Addiction is chronic brain dysfunction that, over time, deteriorates an individual's mental and physical capacity. It is best to seek help from a drug rehabilitation facility if you suspect someone close or yourself is showing signs of addiction.

The Forge Recovery Center is a leading rehab that offers drug rehabilitation services to break the cycle of substance abuse. Our evidence-based meth treatment program helps people safely explore the roots of their addiction. With us, you’ll have every resource and tool you need to build a happy, methamphetamine-free life for yourself at The Forge.

If you want to know more about our successful methamphetamine treatment program, reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today.

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