Signs Of Meth Use: How To Tell If Someone Is Using Meth

The effects of meth are hard to ignore. Signs of meth use may include behavioral, physical, and psychological manifestations.

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Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug. In some cases, early use can be difficult to identify. The behavioral and physical signs of abuse will become increasingly obvious with time.

Behavioral Signs Of Meth Use

The behavioral signs of meth use can take a while to manifest. The behavioral signs begin to appear right away.

You will notice changes in behavior mostly when your loved one has the drug in their system and when they’re experiencing intense cravings.

Meth is a highly addictive drug and can cause dependence in just one dose. Behavioral changes related to cravings often appear much earlier than you might expect.

Mood Swings

Addictive stimulants like methamphetamine affect the central nervous system. Meth, in particular, blocks the reuptake of dopamine while stimulating a further release of the neurotransmitter.

One of the effects of meth addiction is the brain’s inability to function normally without the influx of dopamine. When you aren’t using meth, you will feel irritable, anxious, and depressed.

These two extremes cause intense mood swings. Your loved one may switch from a manic state to an agitated one in a very short period of time.

Keep in mind that there are several mental health conditions, as well as puberty, that can also cause noticeable mood swings. This symptom is just one indicator of meth use.

Violent Behavior

Violent behavior can occur in response to the intensity of mood swings and damage to the decision-making areas of the brain.

With that said, violent behavior is more often associated with a co-occurring mental illness or state of meth-induced psychosis.

Episodes of violent behavior can be impossible to manage on your own. Whenever possible, help your loved one get to a hospital.

High Energy

Meth use causes several changes to your brain chemistry. The rush of dopamine is just a piece of that puzzle. Altogether, these changes cause an excess of energy.

During the initial meth high, your loved one will have manic levels of positivity and energy. Their energy may intensify further as they begin to come down.


Confusion can result from the brain damage associated with drug use. The damage is most acute in the regions that govern learning, memory, and decision-making.

Meth-induced psychosis can also cause intense confusion. In this state, your loved one will be unable to differentiate between their hallucinations and reality.

Physical Signs Of Meth Abuse

The behavioral signs are noticeable, but they aren’t always indicative of meth abuse. Your loved one may be struggling with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

In any case, the behavioral signs indicate a need for professional medical advice.

The physical effects of meth abuse can indicate that your loved one may have a serious addiction and requires immediate treatment.

Tooth Decay

Meth mouth is a colloquial term used to describe the comprehensive damage to the oral cavity resulting from chronic meth abuse.

Methamphetamine abuse often results in a lack of personal hygiene. Additionally, meth is highly acidic and causes chronic dry mouth. All three factors significantly increase the risk of oral disease.

People who smoke crystal meth may have more severe symptoms, but any form of meth use can cause meth mouth. The condition is often marked by missing or blackened teeth as well as visible sores on the gums.

Skin Sores

Skin sores are a symptom of chronic meth abuse. Meth sores are often a sign that your loved one has experienced a tactile hallucination called formication.

Formication makes it feel like you have bugs crawling underneath your skin. The condition usually results in intense scratching that draws blood.

Once the wounds are open, a lack of medical care and a damaged immune system can result in infection. The wounds usually start small, but they will get larger as the infection spreads.

Poor Hygiene And Self-Care

Methamphetamine causes a prolonged high followed by intense withdrawal symptoms. During this time, people who use meth are likely to skip basic hygiene practices.

Over time, this symptom will become increasingly obvious in addition to the meth-induced weight loss caused by missing meals and other basic needs.

Psychological Signs Of Methamphetamine Use

One of the long-term effects of methamphetamine is brain damage. Most of it can be undone within 12 to 14 months of quitting, but the initial psychological side effects can be intense.


Meth-induced psychosis causes hallucinations and paranoid delusions. In this state, your loved one will not be able to tell what is actually real.


Tweaking” refers to the physical and psychological changes that you experience as you start to come down from your high.

Your loved one may become fidgety and start picking at their skin as they experience mild formication.


Paranoid delusions are typically associated with meth-induced psychosis. Your loved one may be convinced that you, doctors, or the government are part of a conspiracy to get them.

Intense Itching (Tactile Hallucinations)

Formication is the most common form of tactile hallucination caused by drug abuse. It causes the sensation that bugs, or “meth mites”, are crawling underneath or on your skin.

Formication is a feature of meth-induced psychosis, but it can occur in a more mild form as you come down from a high. The itching is usually responsible for meth sores.

Meth Hangover

Meth withdrawal, also called a meth hangover, is intense. The lack of sleep, the lack of nutrition, and the damage to the brain can leave you feeling extremely uncomfortable and unhappy.

As your body tries to recover, you may struggle with sleep only to sleep excessively. You may have trouble concentrating and feel depressed.

If you’re lucky that will be the worst of it, but meth withdrawal can cause life-threatening events.

Signs Of Secondhand Meth Exposure

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to meth, there are a few signs you can watch out for. Methamphetamine causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

As long as those measurements are within a normal range for you, it is highly unlikely you were exposed to meaningful levels of meth. If the measurements are much higher than normal, you should seek medical attention.

Treatment Options For Methamphetamine Addiction

Meth addiction is a serious disease that requires a medically supervised detox and addiction treatment.

Reputable treatment programs for meth will offer a wide variety of therapies. Behavioral therapy, support groups, and 12-step programs are just a few that you can consider.

The most effective form of treatment for addiction is inpatient rehab programs. These offer crucial recovery services, such as detox and continuing care options.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we want to make sure that you have all the options you need for recovery.

We offer a wide range of scientifically proven methods in inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.

If you’re ready to quit using meth, or you have a loved one who needs immediate assistance, call our Massachusetts treatment center today.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Methamphetamine Research Report

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: June 21, 2020

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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