Meth addiction affects many young people and is notoriously difficult to treat. The best chance of treating a meth addiction is to catch it early. By learning how to spot the warning signs of meth use, you could potentially save someone’s life.
Here are eleven common warning signs of a meth addiction:
Sign #1 – Hyperactivity
People who become addicted to meth tend to have more energy in the beginning, even on very little sleep. They may become extremely talkative and easily excitable, filled with euphoria and seemingly limitless energy. People on meth usually eat less and refuse to stay still for long periods. They seem restless in both thought and action.
Sign #2 – Sleeping Problems
While in a hyperactive state, people on meth may stay up for days on a drug binge. This behavior can do extensive damage to the brain and body, as meth keeps the person in an overactive state where they are unable to sleep. Eventually, though, there will be a crash, where the user will go from not sleeping at all to sleeping excessively. Teenage addictions can often go unnoticed by parents as chaotic sleep patterns are seen as natural.
Sign #3 – Money Problems
Good quality meth, especially crystal meth, can be costly. One of the warning signs of meth use is financial troubles. The person will suddenly run out of money, and may divert funds intended for rent or bills to their habit. They may start declining events, and avoiding nights out because of the price tag attached.
But, financial burdens won’t stop them from using. They may ask for loans without explaining what they need the money for. If they become desperate enough, they may begin to sell belongings, or steal. If you notice money or valuables missing, it could be possible that your loved one is responsible.
Sign #4 – Social Problems
Another warning sign of meth addiction is social problems. As the addiction begins to take hold, an individual will begin to isolate themselves, especially from the people who care about them the most. Even common physical symptoms of meth addiction, such as changes in heart rhythm and blood pressure, lowered immunity, and bouts of constipation or diarrhea can contribute to an individual’s desire for social isolation.
Sign #5 – Meth Mouth
Addictions which have worsened over time begin to take their toll on the teeth and gums. Meth addiction is particularly hard on oral health, because the drug causes dry mouth and teeth grinding. When combined with the decline in personal hygiene that is common during active addictions, these effects lead to bad breath and discolored, rotting, and missing teeth.
Sign #6 – Uncharacteristic Behavior
A person addicted to meth will often begin acting unlike themselves, engaging in risk-taking behavior. This is because meth lowers inhibitions and boosts confidence. Many meth users will start to become sexually promiscuous. Lowered inhibitions combined with elevated confidence can lead to dangerous criminal activity. Users will commit crimes in order to continue using, believing they are invincible.
Sign #7 – Tweaking
Meth dependence and addiction can occur quite quickly, as tolerance to the drug’s effects builds. At a certain point, no amount of meth will produce the desired high. The individual will then begin to ingest multiple doses of meth in one sitting, chasing the high. This behavior is known as tweaking. While tweaking, a user will go for days without sleep and will often behave in troubling, unstable, and dangerous ways.
Sign # 8 – Punding
“Punding,” stands for persistent non-goal related activity. It refers to repetitive actions such as arranging and rearranging objects, or taking things apart. This unusual behavior is common among users of meth and related substances.
Sign #9 – Unhealthy Appearance
People addicted to meth will develop an unhealthy appearance, showing signs of:
- Poor grooming and hygiene
- Flushed, sweaty skin
- Dilated pupils
- Dry skin, acne
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Skin sores and scars due to tactile hallucinations of crawling bugs that cause users to pick at their skin
- A pale, sallow complexion from poor sleep and dietary habits.
- Unhealthy weight loss due to lack of appetite
Sign #10 – Depression and Anxiety
When coming down off their meth high, users will experience depression and anxiety. These moods starkly contrast with the energetic euphoria exhibited in the earlier stage of use. But as tolerance increases, depression and anxiety may start to occur while under the influence of meth.
Sign #11 – Psychotic Behaviors
Once a person starts exhibiting psychotic behaviors, the need for meth addiction treatment is all the more pressing. Psychotic behaviors may include:
- Visual and tactile hallucinations
- Violent behavior towards self and others
- Mood swings
- Extreme paranoia
Without treatment for substance use disorder, individuals addicted to meth will inevitably become a danger to themselves and others.
There is Hope
The good news is that recovery is possible with professional treatment. As meth recovery is especially challenging with a high risk of relapse, individuals should seek inpatient treatment at a medical facility that can safely guide them through detox and withdrawal, and then through an intensive treatment program for substance use disorder. A good program will not only treat the addiction, but will provide the individual with tools and skills to help them build a healthy, drug-free life for the long term.