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What are the Symptoms of Meth Abuse?

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Medically reviewed: 06/18/2018
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Medical Review

Meth is an extremely addictive stimulant often used to achieve euphoria, and gain energy from its users. Users will snort, inject, smoke, or swallow methamphetamine leading to a range of both physical and psychological side effects.

Here are twelve common side effects and symptoms of meth abuse:

1. Itchy Skin

The chemicals in meth can dry out one’s skin to cause extreme itchiness. The effects of meth can make people feel as though bugs — known as “crank bugs” — are crawling underneath their skin. This can lead to bouts of relentless itching and the development of red open sores. Many times, itching caused by meth can become so bad that users will scratch until they break the skin and draw blood.

2. Dilated Pupils

Meth can cause a person’s pupils to stay dilated for up to 26 hours after using this stimulant. Some users may wear sunglasses around the clock even when indoors to hide their dilated pupils from others.

3. Body Odor

Meth is comprised of toxic chemicals and ingredients that generate bad body odor. Smells from meth use, resembling cat urine, will release through pores in the form of sweat. Users may experience increased sweating, along with potent changes in odor.

4. Meth Mouth

“Meth mouth” is the term used to describe tooth decay and other oral health problems caused by meth use. Meth can lead to dry mouth and contribute to bacteria buildup, tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. Meth mouth can make it difficult for meth users to consume foods and liquids, leading to problems with malnutrition.

5. Weight Loss

Meth use suppresses appetite while also boosting energy levels, causing weight loss to occur. Those who use meth will usually stop eating and experience sudden, extreme weight loss as a result.

6. Eye Twitching

Some people who use meth may experience eye twitching and muscle spasms around the eyes. Eyes will twitch uncontrollably several times per minute throughout the day. Many times, eye twitching resolves on its own after a person has completely overcome meth dependence.

7. Mood Changes

Meth interferes with certain brain chemicals that regulate mood and well-being. Those who use this stimulant will experience sudden changes in mood on behalf of the drug’s fast-acting effects. Moods can swing from euphoric, and aggressive, to anxious and depressed throughout meth use.

8. Repetitive Behavior

Meth users will often want to take things apart and put them back together, may exercise excessively, or find other repetitive projects to do. Many times, meth users may not be fully aware of their surroundings while performing these behaviors.

9. Hyperactivity

Meth use can make people feel highly energetic, restless, and hyperactive. Meth users will have difficulty sitting still and relaxing, and won’t be able to stop moving.

10. Paranoia

Paranoia is a common side effect of meth use due to the way this drug interacts with various chemicals in the brain. People who use meth may feel as though everyone is out to get them. Meth users may isolate themselves frequently to avoid going into public and interacting with others.

11. Insomnia

Meth use can lead to long periods of wakefulness that last for several days or weeks at a time. Insomnia is often followed by long periods of sleep that can last 2 or 3 days, or longer. While using meth, most people with have erratic sleep patterns.

12. Respiratory Failure

Long-term meth use can lead to breathing problems and respiratory failure. The faster breathing triggered by meth use can lead to hyperventilation, along with lung failure.

Meth use and addiction can produce countless long-term health effects. Some of these include psychosis, changes in brain structure and function, poor cognition, memory loss, severe dental problems, and mood disturbances.

If you or your loved one needs help recovering from meth addiction, an addiction treatment specialist can help. Professional treatment will reduce the risk of lingering health problems, including overdose and death.

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