Methamphetamine is an addictive substance that is used by children and adults throughout the United States for its stimulating effects.
People who use meth more than once can become physically addicted to the drug and slowly descend into destructive behaviors that can result in illness and death.
If you suspect that someone you care about may be using meth, the information below may give you an insight into the substance, the effects of addiction, and the treatment options available.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that typically looks like opaque white or blue-tinted rocks.
Meth is developed in industrial laboratories or clandestine meth labs.
The substance is chemically similar to amphetamines used to treat conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
How Meth Is Made
Meth is developed in labs throughout the U.S. using common household products and over-the-counter medicines that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
Meth ingredients are then cooked with chemicals such as acetone, phosphorus, and freon. Water is eventually added along with heated acetone to extract the methamphetamine crystals.
Different Types Of Meth
There are several different types of meth. Each type has specific physical characteristics and may be used by snorting, smoking, eating, or ingesting the drug.
Crystal methamphetamine, also known as “ice”, is a crystalline form of meth. Crystal meth is usually a more distilled form of meth.
Its purity makes the effects of crystal meth occur quicker and last longer. It is typically made in meth labs in the U.S. and other countries with little to no additives.
Other Types Of Meth
These formulations of meth may or may not have an array of cutting agents mixed in to change the effects of the drug.
Common Paraphernalia Associated With Meth Use
Meth abuse may be associated with several different types of paraphernalia, depending on the method of use, type of meth, and other factors.
Some of the most common paraphernalia associated with meth use are glass pipes, needles, miniature spoons, and ingredients such as acids, lithium batteries, funnels, and coffee filters.
How To Identify Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is identifiable in a few different ways, and typically comes in the form of white powder, blue or white opaque crystals, and compressed pill form.
In pill or powder form, meth may be indistinguishable from other illicit drugs. Drug labs can identify the specific formulation of the meth and the cutting agents used in it.
How To Recognize A Meth Lab
There are different types of equipment and processes that may be used to produce meth that can be identified by a trained eye.
Indicators for a meth lab include:
- propane tanks
- a large number of cold pills that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine
- coffee filters stained red
- chemical odors
- glass cookware
- rubber tubing
From the outside, a meth lab may have boarded-up windows, frequent visitors, and a strong chemical odor emanating from the inside.
Street Names For Methamphetamine
There are several street names for methamphetamine that may differ based on the formulation and additives in the substance.
Slang terms include ice, crank, speed, trash, gak, cookies, rocket fuel, and more.
Methamphetamine Routes Of Administration
Depending on the form of the drug, there are a handful of ways to ingest meth.
Common methods of meth abuse include:
How Long Does A Meth High Last?
How long a meth high lasts is dependent on a number of factors, including the length of time using the drug, method of use, and the overall health of the person taking meth.
Typically, a meth high occurs in stages that start with a powerful initial rush and ends with a crash. The entire high lasts between four to 16 hours.
Recognizing The Signs Of Meth Abuse
Signs of meth use can come in the form of behavioral symptoms, physical symptoms, and psychosocial symptoms.
Some of the tell-tale signs of meth use are tooth decay (meth mouth), facial and body tics, excessive sweating, paranoia, and manic episodes.
How People Act When They’re High On Meth
People will react to meth in different ways. Meth will usually make people agitated, have aggressive or violent behavior, and act hyperactive.
What Causes A Meth Addiction?
Several factors go into the reasons people start using meth and become addicted to it.
Some of the most common causes of addiction include genetic disposition, physical dependence, and environmental exposure.
Read more about the causes of methamphetamine addiction.
Risk Factors For Meth Addiction
Meth addiction can arise in anyone who tries the drug.
Exacerbating factors for meth use may include high-stress environments, a history of mental illness, and having a family history of substance abuse.
People are also more susceptible to meth addiction when someone uses meth in the home or when they’re in other environments where meth is present.
Learn about the risk factors for meth addiction.
Side Effects Of Using Meth
Using meth for a prolonged period may have detrimental consequences on a person’s health, relationships, and life in general.
What Health Conditions Are Caused By Meth Use?
The Effects Of Using Meth While Pregnant
Every substance a woman eats or ingests during pregnancy passes through to the baby. Meth use in expecting mothers can cause serious and potentially fatal side effects in both her and the baby.
Prenatal Exposure To Meth
When a fetus is exposed to meth in the womb, the result can include a range of side effects and health risks including premature birth, brain damage, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
It’s also possible that babies will be born addicted to meth, and will be forced to undergo a painful detoxification process in their first days of life.
How Long Does Meth Stay In Breastmilk?
Meth typically stays in the body for at least 48 hours. Because of this, mothers who use meth regularly are encouraged to avoid breastfeeding, as meth in breastmilk isn’t safe for newborns.
What Is Meth Toxicity?
Meth toxicity refers to taking too much meth at one time, causing the body to be unable to tolerate the effects of the drug.
Some of the symptoms of meth toxicity include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, sweating, tremors, and severe irritability.
It’s recommended to seek the help of a health care professional immediately when these symptoms arise.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Meth Overdose
When a person overdoses on meth, they will likely start exhibiting an array of disturbing physical and behavioral signs.
Symptoms of meth overdose may include:
- high or low blood pressure
- high body temperature
- chest pain
- elevated heart rate
When enough meth is ingested to kill somebody, it is typically preceded by violent seizures and eventual coma. Mixing meth with other substances will heighten the risk of overdose.
Can Methamphetamine Kill You?
People who overdose on meth or experience acute toxicity to the drug may die from renal failure, heart attack, or other serious conditions.
Detoxing From Methamphetamine Abuse
The first step in conquering meth addiction is the detoxification process. Detox will help rid the body of meth toxins and put you on the path to recovery.
While meth detoxing from home can be possible, it comes with difficulties and risks that are often best managed in a professional medical setting.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Meth abuse can lead to withdrawal syndrome.
Meth withdrawal symptoms will range in severity based on the extent of the addiction. Common symptoms include intense cravings, depression, dehydration, anxiety, and more.
The timeline for withdrawal typically starts a few hours after last use and peaks around day three. The majority of painful symptoms will subside after the first week.
Detection Times For Meth In The Body
The half-life of meth is nine to 24 hours, depending on the age, weight, and overall health of the person using meth.
This means it may take up to 24 hours for the amount of meth in a person’s blood to reduce by half.
Methamphetamine may be detected in the body through urine tests, blood tests, saliva tests, and hair follicle tests. Detection times can range from 72 hours to 90 days, depending on the test.
Read more about meth detection times.
Comparing Meth And Other Substances
Methamphetamine can easily be mistaken for other illicit drugs due to the way it looks and the effects it has on a person’s behavior. There are, however, notable differences.
Meth Vs. Adderall
Meth and Adderall are both stimulant drugs and are chemically quite similar to each other.
The primary difference between the two is how harmful the side effects of meth are, and the speed at which it affects the brain and central nervous system.
Learn more about the difference between meth and Adderall.
Meth Vs. Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine and meth are both stimulant drugs, but crack is derived from cocaine and the coca leaf of central and South America. Meth is not derived from a natural source and must be produced in a lab.
The high from meth is typically long-lasting, while the high from crack cocaine is intense but may only last a few minutes.
Scope Of Meth Use In The United States
Among people aged 12 and older, about 2.6 million people have reported using methamphetamine in the past year.
Of these, about 1.5 million have had a substance use disorder involving meth use in the past 12 months.
Learn more about the scope of meth use in the U.S.
Meth Addiction Myths
There are several myths and pieces of contradictory information when it comes to meth use.
Some of the most common myths include how easy it is to hide meth addiction, and how much better people socialize when they take meth.
People also associate meth with heightened focus and productivity. While this may be partially true, meth use also produces erratic behavior and delusions which counteract any “focus” achieved from using the drug.
Read more about the myths surrounding meth use.
Treatment Options For Meth Addiction
Treatment for meth abuse may be conducted in an inpatient or outpatient treatment setting and may include several evidence-based services.
Meth addiction treatments may include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- crisis interventions
- mental health services
- short-term and long-term residential care
Find Meth Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
Meth addiction may be hard to overcome, but you can get help in the form of evidence-based treatment services at Bedrock Recovery Center.
Call our helpline today to learn more about our residential treatment program for drug addiction. We can help you or your loved one reach sobriety.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.