Signs and symptoms of crystal meth addiction

How can you tell if somebody is a crystal meth addict? More here about the signs and symptoms that signal when a loved one or a fired has a crystal meth problem.

5
minute read
Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Crystal Meth Addiction Starts Quickly

The crystalline form of methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs on the market. In fact, addiction can occur even after the first use. How? Crystal meth is usually use by:

  • smoking it in a glass pipe
  • crushed and snorted
  • injected

Any of these modes of administration can quickly lead to the formation of compulsive drug use and obsessive drug seeking behavior. In fact, you can get hooked quickly on crystal meth, despite knowledge of negative consequences.

Is a friend, loved one, or family member acting strange? Do you suspect they might have a crystal meth problem? Here, we cover the signs and symptoms of crystal meth addiction. You are welcome to ask us question by posting them in the comments section below. We appreciate your feedback and try to provide personal and prompt answers to all legitimate inquiries.

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Crystal meth addiction signs

Some of the first signs of a crystal meth addiction are behavioral changes, which are usually easy to notice. You can usually tell that something is wrong just by observing the person’s behavior. Here are some signs that can signal when someone is struggling with an addiction problem to crystal meth:

  • Becoming secretive and withdrawn.
  • Being caught in lies about everything and nothing.
  • Decreased school or work performance due to crystal meth use.
  • Display of withdrawal symptoms (nausea, dry mouth, sweating, depression, anxiety, shaking, etc.) whenever meth is not around.
  • Getting into legal trouble due to possession or use of crystal meth, or performing other illegal activities to be able to purchase meth.
  • Loss of interest in social life, hobbies, and once enjoyable activities.
  • Staying up for days and then sleeping for a long period of time.
  • Spending a great deal of time hungover and recovering from the effects of crystal meth use.
  • Unable to explain where money (or other possessions) go missing.

If you are looking for the signs of crystal meth addiction in yourself, it may be harder to notice these behavioral changes. You might be in denial about your substance use problem, which is normal because nobody wants to view themselves as an “addict”. But, there are some tell-tale signs that may suggest your use has gotten out of hand and you need to seek medical help.

Clinical signs of addiction

The main signs of an addiction that are used to clinically diagnose a “Substance Use Disorder” include:

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences = Neglecting work, school, or family obligations because of crystal meth.

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Compulsion = Obsessively thinking of using or finding ways to obtain the drug.

Physical Dependence = Feeling a number of physical and/or psychological side effects because of crystal meth.  Experiencing crystal meth withdrawal symptoms when you stop using or significantly reduce regular doses.

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Psychological Dependence = Being unable to function ‘normally’ in every day life without crystal meth.

Tolerance = Being unable to feel the wanted effects from crystal meth at lower doses. So, you increase dose amount or frequency to compensate.

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Loss of Drug Control = Using crystal meth several times a week. Having a difficulty stopping or controlling crystal meth use once you start. Trying to quit crystal meth but always relapsing. Taking higher doses of crystal meth than you originally plan.

Additionally, crystal meth comes with high levels of drug craving, which can even be physical. However, if you are addicted to meth, there is hope! You need professional help.

Symptoms of crystal meth addiction

Crystal meth addiction can be characterized by physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical symptoms of crystal meth addiction, include:

  • dilated pupils
  • extreme weight loss due to an affected immune system and loss of appetite
  • eye twitching
  • rotten teeth
  • sores on the mouth and face
  • seizures
  • skin abscesses (that may become infected)

Psychological symptoms of addiction to crystal meth, include:

  • aggressive behavior
  • delusions
  • hyperactivity
  • manic phase
  • mood instability
  • obsessive need for cleaning
  • paranoia
  • repetitious behavior
  • sleep deprivation
  • suicidal thoughts

Crystal meth addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Crystal meth addiction symptoms can be best addressed by a mix of medications, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapies. Sometimes, doctors recommend the short term use of antidepressants to address underlying depression and to help balance serotonin or dopamine levels in the brain. Still, there are no medications demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of crystal meth withdrawal at the moment, though research suggests bupropion and naltrexone have a high potential for addressing crystal meth cravings.

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Crystal meth abuse can produce significant psychiatric and medical consequences which need to be medically managed. Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are among the most promising approaches for treatment of crystal meth abuse and dependence. Where can you get the help that you need?

Both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs for crystal meth addiction can be helpful in treating crystal meth addiction. However there are differences in the activities and the structure of each program.

1. Inpatient crystal meth addiction treatment provides 24-7 supervision during withdrawal and early recovery. Treatment programs last 30-60-90 days and can help the body adjust to normal routines. Inpatient treatment tends to be more intense, and allows the patients to access therapy on a daily basis. During treatment, you interact with other patients, consume healthy and recommended food and beverages, and sleep at regular times. Residential addiction rehab takes you out of your normal environment and stress triggers so that you can focus on getting better.

2. Outpatient rehab, on the other hand, allows the person to enroll in daily rehabilitation activities while still living at home and continuing with everyday obligations. you usually visit an outpatient program several times per week over the course of 3-4 months…up to a year or two. While outpatient treatment works for some, it does require high levels of commitment and motivation. Because of the severity of a meth addiction, inpatient centers may be more helpful…at least until your brain and body reach a balance.

Signs of crystal meth addiction questions

Still wondering about the signs of an addiction? In case you have any question feel free to contact us. You can get in touch via our contact us form of send us a question or a personal comment in the section below. We will do our best in providing you with a prompt and personal answer.

Reference Sources: The US Department of Justice
National Institute of Drug Abuse
Illinois attorney General Lisa Madigan
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

17 Comments

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  1. 30 year old grandson on pills & meth. He stay gone for days steals everything, losing alot of weight. Won’t bathe hygeine really bad. He’s in denial says he doesn’t need help just don’t want his mother to get a call he’s dead. No private insurance but State insurance. Live in Stockton, CA.

  2. Hi Sara. It can be a slippery slope when you’re in a relationship with a drug user. You’ll need to set you own boundaries and know when it’s time to leave. You can speak with a family counselor to explore this more for yourself…and you can find one here:

    https://locator.apa.org

    From what we know about meth, it’s very difficult to regulate use…mainly because of the way it works in the brain. Meth is super effective at getting someone high and stays in the system for up to 12 hours. So, in terms of addictiveness …. it’s highly addictive.

    If you think he needs help, please feel free to call us on the number above. We have addiction recovery support specialists on our hotline ready to talk you through treatment options.

  3. When trying to quit meth I notice that I get restless and cannot sit still. I also crave cigarettes non stop though I’m not a smoker. Any tips or wisdom? Are these signs that I’m addicted? Is there anything I can do for these symptoms? They’re affecting my job.

  4. I have been in a relationship with a man who I really care about for a few months. I’m aware that he smokes meth. We have talked opely about it and he claims he isn’t high around me and doesn’t want to be. He says he doesn’t feel the need to be high when we spend time together and that he is using less and less since we’ve been together. Is this possible? I have listened and not judged or asked him to quit.He shows none of the symptoms mentioned except bad teeth. Can he be helped or should I walk away?

  5. It was really informative when you said that there are times when the professionals have to suggest the use of antidepressant to the person in order to balance out the person’s serotonin and dopamine level. Is it safe to assume that one of the contributors to drug abuse is depression? If that is the case, then I guess I have a reason to believe that my boyfriend is abusing drugs. He is clinically depressed after all.

  6. Hi, I’m an addict and would just like to know; a) when detoxing from meth, how long does it take for the meth to be out of your blood system? And if an addict was to detox themselves, approximately how long would it take for the body to be rid of the meth out of your complete body system?

  7. My friend said he is craving meth now he is acting different. With a bad attitude being angry and insulting. What is going on with him? Is it part of the craving???

  8. My stepdaughter has been a p addict and in about the last year she has become anxious ,bad with money ,does not communicate unless it’s for money,no food in the fridge and she has two children,she complains of worms coming out of her fingers and gums ,hairloss ,getting thin in the face,hostile, whenever we visit she’s in bed and won’t come out of her room,she’s doesn’t seem to care about anything,where do we start ?

    1. Hi Jayne. You may stage an intervention. Take a look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help: http://alliesinrecovery.net/about-craft/
      Also, you may call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  9. I am currently in progress of a divorce bc my husband is no longer the man I married 3 years ago. He hasn’t told me , but I believe he’s addicted and is using crystal meth. He is and has been acting strange lately and about a year ago I noticed the change in him . Personal things have been missing and the house robbed of items , and things missing out the house , and he have No knowledge about it . My husband needs help, ASAP. Please Help!

    1. Hi Lisa. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you husband find the best rehab for him.

  10. Do they get irritated as they sleep and do they kick there legs a lot while sleeping and jumping while their sleeping? I’m talking about my husband has these activities going on with him. And he gets very aggravated if I bring it to his attention about the moving going on.his not showing signs during the day, just when he’s sleeping..I hope you can help me and Thank You…

    1. Hi Rita. It seems to me that your husband is suffering from restless leg syndrome. That’s a neurological disorder in which you feel an uncomfortable sensation in your legs (such as throbbing, pulling or creeping sensations) that is associated with an uncontrollable urge to move them. This syndrome is a common meth withdrawal symptom.

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