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What Are the Signs of Methamphetamine Addiction?

By R. Bargar
Updated May 17, 2024
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A powerful psychostimulant belonging to the amphetamine class of drugs, methamphetamine is best known as a highly addictive street drug. It also has medical uses and is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and exogenous obesity, severe obesity caused by excessive food intake. Signs of methamphetamine addiction and abuse may not be obvious to friends, family and co-workers for quite a while, as early symptoms may be subtle and overlooked. Prolonged or heavy use can lead to severe symptoms including psychosis, drastic weight decline, organ damage and tooth loss.

Family and friends frequently misunderstand the early signs of methamphetamine addiction. Decreased appetite and increased levels of activity are some early signs of being under the influence of methamphetamines. Another symptom frequently overlooked is a declining need for sleep, followed by a period of unusually excessive sleep. Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and acts to increase the body's resistance to fatigue. It also heightens focus and mental clarity, which is the reason it is used medically to treat ADHD.

Additional signs of being under the influence of methamphetamine include rapid breathing and elevated body temperature. Meth is highly addictive and can quickly lead to dependence. Once a person becomes dependent on the drug, signs of methamphetamine addiction become more noticeable. Social problems that are not typical for the methamphetamine user frequently develop. Financial troubles — as income goes to supporting the addiction, job loss, or unexpected problems with friends and family are warning signs that drug use may have escalated to addiction.

Physical and psychological symptoms increase in severity with addiction. Weight loss and eating habits are altered. Changes in appearance include an unhealthy skin tone, puffiness and red rimmed eyes. Also, self-inflicted sores from obsessive scratching don't heal as the body's ability to repair itself weakens. Methamphetamine use destroys blood vessels, tissues and organs, and a general decline in health becomes apparent. Heart and other cardiovascular problems may develop with prolonged addiction.

Poor nutrition and lack of good hygiene habits can cause tooth and gum problems. Many addicts have missing or discolored teeth, often referred to as “meth mouth.” Irritability, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and alienation from friends and family are psychological signs of methamphetamine addiction. The addict may take risks to procure the drug and put themselves and others in danger. Unprotected sex is more frequent in methamphetamine users than non-users and increases the chance of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases.

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Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Dec 03, 2013

I see signs of a meth addict in my cousin. She steals money from people, never sleeps but is always energetic. She also has scars on her face because she is picking on her skin. I guess it's a side effect of meth use.

I confronted her about it but she denied it. I don't believe her though. I hope she admits to it soon and gets help.

By ddljohn — On Dec 03, 2013

@fBoyle-- Don't beat yourself up about it. I think it takes time for loved ones to see signs of addiction because one doesn't want to believe it. Especially parents need to look out for these signs because meth abuse is becoming more common among teenagers.

By fBoyle — On Dec 03, 2013

It took me a long time to notice that my boyfriend was suffering from substance abuse. In the beginning, there weren't many meth addiction signs. His sleep patterns had changed and he wasn't eating as well but he seemed normal otherwise.

As time went on however, things got worse. He stopped talking to me, he was acting odd, lying and he started cheated on me. This was when I found out that he is addicted to methamphetamine. He had been addicted for almost a year. Everything he had done up to that point made sense but I'm still angry at myself for not seeing the signs sooner.

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