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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?

Learn more about what meth addiction is, along with how to seek help for meth-related problems at Anew Treatment Center.

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What is Methamphetamine?

Meth addiction is a severe condition that requires immediate intervention. Being addicted to methamphetamines can have devastating effects on an individual, as well as their family, friends, and work life.

Statistics on Meth Use

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that almost sixty million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit or abused prescription drugs, like meth or cocaine, in 2020. Of those people, about 4% reported using methamphetamines.1

Meth Creation and Consumption

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Methamphetamine is also commonly referred to as "meth," "ice," and "crystal meth. Methamphetamines are synthetic drugs and can be made in home labs or by pill presses. One of the meth production methods involves heating and then distilling ephedrine and pseudoephedrine obtained synthetically or from the ephedra plant.2
A meth substance abuse disorder is known for causing severe side effects in the body, including paranoia, panic attacks, and hallucinations. Other negative effects of meth abuse include weight loss, insomnia, and irritability.
Meth Addiction

Meth Addiction

What is Meth Addiction?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system. Meth is also highly addictive. The use of meth floods the brain with dopamine, which causes an increased sense of pleasure and reduced inhibition. This effect is similar to cocaine, but methamphetamine can be more intense because there are no physical barriers to its passage into the brain.3

Physiological Impacts of Meth Use

The physiological effects of methamphetamine are similar to amphetamines such as Adderall (dextroamphetamine). Still, they are more intense and last longer. Methamphetamine also causes a euphoric feeling that lasts longer than other stimulants, like cocaine or caffeine.

Methamphetamine is often used by people who also use other stimulants because they provide a more significant boost in energy. At the same time, it allows users to function mostly normally throughout the day without becoming too wired or jittery. A meth substance abuse disorder can impact the user’s life in many ways, including physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

How Long Is a Meth High?

Several factors determine the duration of a meth high. A meth high can last anywhere from four to sixteen hours, depending on the stage high the person is in, along with how much they took. In addition, the length of methamphetamine’s effects is determined by how the meth was taken and its purity. Meth that was cut with another substance often greatly lessens or increases the duration of the high.

What is the Half-Life of Meth?

Methamphetamine has an average half-life of ten hours. This means that it takes around ten hours for half of the amount of meth ingested or consumed to be metabolized and removed from the bloodstream.4

Methamphetamine concentrations in the bloodstream peak between two to four hours after ingestion, with the amphetamine metabolite peaking around twelve hours after ingestion. When meth is injected into the bloodstream, the half-life is a little over twelve hours, as demonstrated by multiple drug tests.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth users can develop a tolerance for the drug, meaning they need more and more of it to have the same effect.

The signs someone is using meth vary depending on the person's age and gender, along with the amount used and how frequently it has been taken. The following are some of the most common signs of meth abuse:

  • Faster breathing and heart rate
  • High blood pressure and temperature 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations or delusions

How Do People Use Methamphetamine?

There are many ways to use methamphetamine, but here are the four most common ways to take the substance.


The most common way to use meth is by smoking it. Meth is usually smoked in a pipe or bong but can also be smoked via cigarette or cigar. The chemical process that produces meth creates highly addictive and toxic smoke in the lungs.


Methamphetamine can be taken with water or another liquid so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and easily. Suppose a person swallows only small amounts of meth. In that case, its effects would be felt usually within thirty minutes, continuing for several hours after they stop using it.


Snorting meth has the potential to be hazardous. The nose, nasal passageways, and throat may get irritated. If too much of the powder is snorted at once, it may result in choking. Snorting can also cause fine particles to enter the lungs, causing respiratory harm. In addition, chronic meth snorting can put their sense of smell at risk and hamper the ability to breathe out of the affected nostrils.


Injecting methamphetamine is a more controlled way for someone to take the drug than snorting it. It also has a faster onset and longer duration. However, injecting meth drugs can lead to high blood pressure and strokes, as well as skin infections or abscesses in the area where needles are used.

How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?

Methamphetamine affects the brain in many ways. It has been reported to cause mood, cognition, and behavior changes. While it is often described as a stimulant, meth can also cause euphoria and depression.

Temporary Feelings of Euphoria

Methamphetamine acts on several neurotransmitter systems in the brain. It binds to serotonin receptors in the brainstem and causes an increase in dopamine levels. This results in enhanced pleasure from activities such as eating or sex. Still, it also causes depressive symptoms and various meth reactions when not used frequently enough, especially after meth dependence begins.

Meth Withdrawal

When a person is addicted to meth, ceasing to take the drug can lead to withdrawal. The meth withdrawal timeline occurs in three stages and can last up to a year. In addition to its effects on dopamine levels, meth drugs increase levels of norepinephrine as well as serotonin. It also inhibits certain neurons, which may contribute to its psychological effects.

How Long Does Methamphetamine Stay in Your System?

Meth has a long-lasting effect on the body with varying side effects, and it might take up to four days to disappear. A drug test for meth can detect the substance mere days after consumption. For example, after consuming meth orally, a person can have a positive urine test for up to four days. A hair test can also detect meth usage up to three months later.5

Drugs Commonly Combined with Meth

The following drugs are commonly combined with meth:

  • Alcohol: This combination can be risky. The combination of meth and alcohol raises the risk of heart failure, seizures, or overdose.
  • Morphine: Meth can be used to treat pain and has shown some promise for treating severe pain in cancer patients. However, combining morphine with meth can increase the risk of dangerous side effects.
  • Xanax: Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. A combination of Xanax and methamphetamine can increase anxiety and paranoia levels.

Short-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

Some short-term negative effects of meth abuse are similar to those of other stimulants such as cocaine or caffeine. There are various meth side effects which include:6
  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature

Long-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

The long-term effects of meth addiction are just as devastating as the short-term effects. Long-term use of meth can lead to a wide range of medical problems, including:

  • Addiction and reliance
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Meth liver toxicity

Both short- and long-term effects of meth substance abuse can wreak havoc on the body, even if you don’t notice them at first. It’s important to know the signs of meth addiction so you can get help for either you or a loved one if needed.

symptoms of meth     

Find Help for Meth Addiction at Anew Treatment Center

Meth addiction can be a serious problem. If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance abuse disorder, getting the help you need is essential. Thankfully, Anew Treatment Center provides drug abuse treatment for individuals and families struggling with meth and depression.

Our dedicated healthcare practitioners work with each client to determine their needs. This helps deduce the best possible route of therapy, which could be medication, detox, or emotional support to get through meth addiction symptoms. They also work with clients on developing a plan to prevent relapse in the future.

We offer a variety of services that help aid meth detox and behavioral treatment, including:

Meth Detox

Detox for meth is one of the most critical steps in recovery. While it's possible to get clean without visiting a detox center, meth addiction is usually severe and requires expert care. Recovering from meth addiction is much easier when you have access to professional services like those offered at Anew Treatment Center. We provide the support you need throughout your recovery to get back to living a healthy life as soon as possible.

Behavioral Treatment

Behavioral treatment focuses on addressing meth’s social effects and the underlying issues that lead to drug abuse and helping individuals with a meth problem develop healthy coping skills. Counseling may involve individual or group therapy sessions, where patients discuss their thoughts and feelings about addiction and how to deal with it.

Meth Addiction Rehab

After detox for meth overall health stabilization, and behavioral modifications are carried out. Meth rehabilitation helps every meth user recover with minimal risks of relapses through long-term meth recovery at home.

For more information on meth addiction and seeking care for any related meth problems, please reach out to Anew Treatment Center today.

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