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Meth Addiction Signs

Using methamphetamine can cause serious short- and long-term problems. All signs and symptoms of meth abuse and addiction deserve attention and treatment.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, data collected by and for the U.S. government show that just more than 500,000 Americans smoke or inject methamphetamines each month. This “intermittent user” population has held steady across the nation since the late 1990s, but rates of abuse and addiction can be much higher in certain areas. A 2013 map of meth labs identified by law enforcement officials published on the Huffington Post website indicates the worst problems exist in Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois.

What Indicates a Person May Be Abusing Meth?

Meth is a stimulant that produces many of the same physical effects as cocaine. As listed by the Vermont Department of Health, you might suspect a friend or family member is at risk for getting addicted to meth if he or she regularly:

meth abuse

Someone who is addicted to meth will compulsively seek out their next high.

  • Breaths heavily and sweats profusely despite not exercising
  • Has unexplained burns on the lips and fingers
  • Acts excessively nervous and jittery
  • Is hyperalert
  • Refuses to sleep for a two or more days, then sleeps for more than a day
  • Avoids eating for long periods
  • Neglects hygiene (e.g., stops showering and brushing teeth)
  • Stealing and lies
  • Becomes violent with little provocation
  • Withdrawals from friends and family; starts skipping work or school

What Health Problems Can Develop With Long-Term Meth Use or an Overdose?

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that regular use of meth can induce the following mental and physical health problems, several of which develop after exposure to the toxic and caustic chemicals used during meth manufacture:

  • Paranoia
  • Tics and muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of emotional control
  • “Meth mouth,” marked by tooth loss, gum disease, sores and tissue discoloration
  • Skin sores and boils
  • Anorexia and severe weight loss
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death from accident or infections

What Are the Warning Signs for Meth Addiction?

The same NIDA factsheet also states that the surest signs of meth addiction are a combination of the need to use more of the drug and more frequently to get high, along with an inability to feel any positive emotions while not using meth. According to the agency, addicts who stop smoking or injecting meth can experience intense cravings, sink into deep depression and suffer major fatigue.

Are Effective Treatments for Meth Addiction Available?

NIDA sponsors a range of scientific studies into the treatment of all forms of drug addiction. Results to date show that the most-effective approaches to quitting meth and avoiding relapses combine counseling and behavior modification training conducted with a medical professional. Participating in 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous can also prove beneficial, as can receiving encouragement from friends and family members. Last, the agency has evidence supporting various combinations of drug testing and incentives for continuous abstinence.

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