Methamphetamine, or meth, is a drug that people take by smoking, snorting injecting, or smoking. It causes users to experience a pleasurable rush of euphoria and wakefulness, but the “high” begins and fades quickly, so people may take additional doses in a “binge and crash” pattern.1 Belonging to a class of drugs known as stimulants, meth affects the central nervous system and and is chemically similar to amphetamines like Adderall.
Methamphetamine is powerful and highly addiction, but it doesn’t have to control your life. If you think that you or someone you care about may have a problem with meth, it’s important to know that treatment is available so that people can overcome their addiction. This article will help you understand meth addiction, symptoms, and explain the treatment and support available for someone with a meth addiction.2
What is Meth Addiction?
People who use methamphetamine experience an increase in the amount of dopamine in their brains. Dopamine plays a role in body movement, motivation, and the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Because it can quickly release high levels of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas, meth can make the individual want to repeat their drug use as it reinforces drug-taking behavior.1
While under the influence of meth, individuals may experience various effects, including:2-4
- Intense feelings of pleasure.
- Increased sociability and confidence.
- Heightened awareness and attention.
- Increased energy.
- Heightened libido.
- Suppressed appetite.
- Faster breathing.
- Rapid and irregular heart rate.
- Increased body temperature.
Meth users who abuse the drug may develop what’s known as a stimulant use disorder—a diagnosis given by medical and mental health professionals to indicate that a person’s stimulant use is causing significant problems.5 Signs of a stimulant use disorder may include:5
- Being unable to cut back or quit meth use.
- Experiencing strong cravings for meth.
- Using meth despite negative effects on your job/school and relationships.
- Using meth in dangerous situations (e.g., before driving).
- Needing more of the drug to feel the same effects as experienced previously.
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms after abruptly stopping or cutting back.
- Continuing to use meth despite physical or psychological problems caused by the use.
Checking Your Insurance Benefits
If you are looking for meth addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.
Is Meth Addictive?
Yes, meth is highly addictive. If an individual who is using meth stops taking it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms including:1
- Intense drug cravings.
The release of dopamine in the reward circuit is a defining feature of addictive drugs. The high levels of dopamine that is released through meth use is believed to play a role in the drug’s harmful effects on nerve terminals in the brain.6
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?
Even small amounts of meth can have health effects similar to those of other stimulants, including:1,7
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity.
- Decreased appetite.
- Faster breathing.
- Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat.
- Increased blood pressure and body temperature.
- Chest pain.
- Irregular or stopped heartbeat.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Very high body temperature.
- Severe stomach pain.
Meth abuse can have extremely dangerous and detrimental consequences, including long-term effects such as:1,7
- Meth mouth (severe dental problems).
- Heart attack.
- Kidney failure.
- Skin sores due to itching.
- Violent behaviors.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Coordination problems.
- Memory deficits.
Additionally, those who inject methamphetamine have an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis B and C. Meth us can also impact judgment and decision making, which may lead to risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, also increasing the risk of infection.1
What are the Health Risks of Meth Abuse?
There are various health risks that may result from meth abuse. A meth overdose can result if an individual has a toxic reaction after taking more meth than the body can handle. Meth users may experience two different types of overdoses:7
- An acute overdose can happen if a user unintentionally takes too much meth in a short time span. This can cause serious and even life-threatening problems.
- A chronic overdose refers to the cumulative health effects that occur from prolonged use of meth.
An acute meth overdose produces a range of physical and psychological effects, which may include:1,2,6,7
- Increased agitation.
- Severe paranoia.
- Chest pain.
- Irregular heart rate or complete cessation of heartbeat.
- Problems breathing.
- Dangerously elevated body temperature.
- Intense stomach pain.
- Heart attack.
- Organ damage.
- Kidney failure.
In some cases, a meth overdose may lead to permanent damage to the body and even death.2,6 The sooner that a meth overdose victim receives help, the higher the likelihood that they will recover. It is important to contact 911 immediately if you suspect a meth overdose.
Take Our “Am I Addicted to Meth?” Self-Assessment
Take our free, 5-minute “Am I Addicted to Methamphetamine” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with meth addiction. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders should be diagnosed by professionals using these diagnostic criteria after thorough patient assessment. This self-assessment is free and confidential and may serve as an indicator of a potential addiction but should not replace a diagnosis from a professional treatment provider.
How Do I Get Help for Meth Addiction?
Effective treatment and support are available to help people dealing with meth addiction and substance use disorder (SUD).8 Treatment may be obtained through private rehab, via state or local treatment programs in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, through support groups, or in various other ways.
Meth addiction treatment may include the following:8
- Inpatient treatment typically involves staying in a facility with around-the-clock care and monitoring, group therapy, and individual counseling.
- Outpatient treatment allows the patient to attend group and individual counseling sessions while living at home. This type of care may provide you with the opportunity to attend, school, work, and participate in daily life while working on your recovery.
There are several evidence-based therapies that can be used in any treatment setting:
- Behavioral therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) motivational incentives or the Matrix Model, which may be delivered individually or in a group and helps you identify your relationship with meth and other drugs and teaches you strategies to avoid people, places, things, or events that may trigger drug use, such as alternative coping methods to deal with stress.
- Integrated treatment of co-occurring disorders. Many people who have SUDs also meet the criteria for another mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. The relationship between both disorders is complex and intertwined, with symptoms of SUDs and other mental health conditions often overlapping. Integrating the treatment of both conditions has been found to be consistently superior vs. treating each diagnosis separately.
- Individualized treatment plans. There is no one size fits all plan for addiction treatment, and a successful treatment approach is tailored to the individual’s needs, addressing all areas of a person’s life, such as employment training, housing, or legal issues, that may affect a person’s ability to stay on track with treatment and avoid relapse.
There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual help support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bonds, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.
Where Can I Learn More about Treating Meth Addiction?
For more information about methamphetamine abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for meth abuse treatment.
There are various treatment programs and strategies available for meth addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs. To learn more about meth addiction treatment, click here.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine DrugFacts.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Research report series: Methamphetamine.
- Elkashef, A., Vocci, F., Hanson, G., White, J., Wickes, W., & Tiihonen, J. (2008). Pharmacotherapy of methamphetamine addiction: An update. Substance Abuse, 29(3), 31-49.
- Buxton, J. A., & Dove, N. A. (2008). The burden and management of crystal meth use. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 178(12), 1537-1539.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine Research Report:What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine misuse?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). MedlinePlus: Methamphetamine overdose.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.