October 27, 2023

How to Identify the Signs of Meth Use

An image of a woman in distress, symbolizing potential signs of meth use

Meth addiction is notorious for its extremely damaging consequences. Fortunately, the signs and symptoms of meth use become evident quite quickly and are readily identifiable.

Help for you or a loved one is only one call away.

Signs of Someone Using Meth

Meth (methamphetamine) is a powerful illicit stimulant with a range of physical and mental effects. Recognizing the signs of someone is using meth can help inform timely intervention and appropriate support. Signs of meth abuse may be physical or mental in presentation.

Physical Signs of Meth Use

Physical signs that someone is using meth can include:

  • Dilated pupils: Meth use often causes pupils to become extremely dilated, making them appear significantly larger than usual. This is one of the early signs of meth use.
  • Skin sores: People who abuse meth may develop skin sores, also known as meth sores, due to intense itching and compulsive scratching. These sores can become infected and result in scarring.
  • Facial twitching: Methamphetamine use can lead to involuntary facial twitching or repetitive movements.
  • Increased sweating: Meth use often causes profuse sweating and a feeling of overheating.
  • High body temperature: Meth use symptoms can include a dangerously high body temperature, leading to hyperthermia.

Mental Signs of Meth Use

Mental signs someone is on meth may include:

  • Agitation and irritability: Agitation, irritability, and mood swings can be mental signs of  someone using meth.
  • Confusion: Symptoms of meth use include people becoming confused and disoriented, with demonstrable difficulty focusing or maintaining coherent conversations.
  • Paranoia: Meth often induces intense paranoia, causing some people to believe that they are being watched or persecuted.
  • Hallucinations: Some people using meth experience auditory or visual hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren’t real.
  • Repetitive behaviors: Meth use can lead to repetitive, compulsive behaviors, such as picking at the skin. This is associated with a range of skin complaints.
  • Extreme euphoria: Symptoms of meth use often include extreme euphoria and heightened energy levels, followed by periods of severe depression as the drug wears off.

Approach individuals displaying these signs with compassion and encourage them to seek professional help for addiction treatment and support.

A woman thinking about how to identify the signs of meth use

Signs of Meth Addiction

What are the signs of meth use and addiction for diagnostic purposes, then? Meth addiction, is characterized by a range of physical and behavioral signs. These signs are indicative of a stimulant use disorder, as outlined in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision). Signs of meth addiction include:

  1. Taking more meth than planned or using the substance for longer than intended.
  2. Unsuccessful attempts to moderate or discontinue substance use.
  3. Spending a lot of time obtaining and using meth, as well as recovering from its effects.
  4. Cravings for methamphetamine.
  5. Failing to fulfill major personal or professional obligations due to meth use.
  6. Ongoing meth use despite having recurrent interpersonal problems triggered or inflamed by the effects of the substance.
  7. Giving up important social activities due to the use of stimulants.
  8. Using meth in potentially dangerous situations.
  9. Continuing use of stimulants even though the substance has likely caused or exacerbated a physical or mental health condition.
  10. Tolerance, meaning that more stimulants are required to achieve the initial effects.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms manifesting upon discontinuation.

If someone exhibits two or more of these symptoms, they may be diagnosed with a stimulant use disorder (meth addiction). Addiction is a complex condition, and a comprehensive diagnosis should be conducted by a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional. If you or someone that you care about is fighting meth addiction, engaging with professional help will streamline treatment and recovery.

What to Do If You Notice Signs Someone is On Meth

If you suspect that someone you know is using meth or you have observed signs of meth use, take action to help them. Here are steps you can consider:

  • Educate yourself: Before approaching the person, educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of meth use and addiction. Understanding the drug’s effects can help you approach the situation more knowledgeably.
  • Choose the right time and place: Find a suitable time and place to talk to the person privately. Ensure that you won’t be interrupted, and choose a moment when they appear calm and receptive to conversation.
  • Express concern and empathy: Approach the person with empathy and express your genuine concern for their well-being. Avoid blaming or shaming them, as addiction is a nuanced issue that often involves underlying emotional distress.
  • Listen actively: Give the person an opportunity to talk about their experiences and feelings. Active listening can help them open up about their struggles and reasons for using meth.
  • Offer support: Let the person know that you are there to support them and that they don’t have to face addiction alone. Encourage them to seek professional help, such as addiction treatment or counseling.
  • Avoid enabling: While offering support, avoid enabling their addiction. This means not providing them with money or resources that could be used to obtain drugs. Encourage healthy choices instead.
  • Seek professional help: If the person is unwilling to seek help or if their addiction poses a severe threat, consider involving a professional interventionist or addiction specialist. These experts can guide the intervention process and connect the person with appropriate treatment resources.

Remember that confronting someone about their meth use can be challenging and emotional. Always approach the situation with care, compassion, and a focus on their well-being.

An image of the Gratitude Lodge facility, where treatment is available for meth addiction

Get Meth Addiction Treatment for Your Loved One

We offer a comprehensive range of meth detox and addiction treatment services at Gratitude Lodge in Newport Beach or Long Beach, California.

Although there are no medications approved by the FDA to treat meth withdrawal, our supervised detox program offers the structure and support you need to withdraw from meth safely and comfortably over the course of about one week.

Having tackled the issue of physical dependence on meth, you can transition into ongoing residential treatment at one of our pet-friendly facilities. All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs provide an array of treatments that may include:

Call 888-861-1658 to start living meth-free.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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