Meth Addiction

Speed, crystal, glass, ice, crank, or meth: Whatever street name you assign methamphetamine, it remains one of the most toxic substances you can put into your body. This highly addictive, stimulant hijacks the brain and triggers dependency faster than any other illicit drug. The consequences from its use are life-altering if not fatal.

Methamphetamine does have a legitimate medical use, under a certain formulation, in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity. Still, it is mostly abused recreationally.

While the opioid crisis dominates news headlines, a surge in meth addiction overdose deaths persists,  leaving families and communities ravaged in its wake. The fact is, escaping the clutches of meth addiction can be extremely difficult, especially when attempted alone. However, rehabilitation is possible.



What Is Meth?

German soldiers used methamphetamine in World War II to decrease fear and induce increased wakefulness. It aided them as they launched invasions against Belgium, Holland, and France.

In the United States, students, truck drivers, and athletes used the stimulant for non-medical purposes when it was legally manufactured in the 1950s. It was not until 1970, when Congress established the Controlled Substances Act, that the production of injectable methamphetamine was restricted.

Now illegally trafficked throughout the world, meth is used almost universally as a recreational drug. When smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected,  it stimulates the central nervous system and imparts feelings of euphoria, increased sexual desire, energy, and excitement. Meth literally rewires the brain by rapidly releasing high levels of dopamine in its reward centers. This action compels you to take meth repeatedly, quickly triggering addiction. Long-term use of crystal meth can profoundly impact your health and well-being. It can inflict permanent damage and cognitive and emotional disorders.  


What Are the Signs of Meth Addiction?

Methamphetamine addiction has manifold effects on the mind and body. The signs of addiction will readily become clear to family and friends once dependency sets in. Meth will produce powerful cravings. Those urges morph into compulsive behaviors where obtaining and using meth becomes the center of your life. Here are the are telltale signs of meth addiction that appear after short-term use:

  • Unpredictable and compulsive behavior
  • Decreased appetite
  • Faster breathing
  • Bad breath
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Isolation
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature

With chronic, long-term meth use, the effects worsen and wreak havoc on your mind and body. Those symptoms include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems ("meth mouth")
  • Intense itching and scratching, causing skin sores to form
  • Violent behavior

In addition to these symptoms, there are profound life-altering consequences that come with meth use such as permanent brain damage. This is when coordination, verbal learning, memory, and emotion become disrupted. Some of these cognitive issues can be reversed after ceasing crystal meth use after a year.

However, the damage to other functions can be irreversible and can deteriorate further over time. Meth use also increases your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is addicted to meth, then addiction treatment is the next step.

What Is Involved in Meth Addiction Treatment?

It is dangerous and ultimately futile to attempt to quit crystal meth on your own. The likelihood of relapse is considerable. Thus, a medically supervised treatment is absolutely crucial.  


After taking the necessary step of acknowledging your abuse, it is important that you begin your addiction treatment with medical detoxification. This will ensure the methamphetamine and any other toxins are safely removed from your body. Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. That’s why medical professionals will monitor you around the clock to ensure that you are safely weaned off of the drug. Once you have completed this phase, a medical team will recommend the best course of action to help you along your journey to recovery. To further treat your addiction, it is necessary to enter an inpatient or residential treatment program.   


Studies show that living at a facility and receiving residential treatment is the most effective option in combating addiction, particularly if you are struggling with meth dependency. In a residential treatment program, you will have an individually tailored program that will last from 28-90 days. You will have access to treatment options that can include 12-step programs, holistic therapy, family therapy, individual and group counseling, and relapse prevention education.  


If your addiction is considered mild or in the early stages, there is an outpatient treatment option that does not require a stay at a treatment center. What you will receive are structured sessions that you will attend three to five times a week or more, depending on your situation. There are alumni and 12-step programs that can help you connect to a larger community that cares about your recovery.

It is strongly recommended that you consider aftercare services to focus on your recovery and lessen the chance of relapse. You should also consider follow-up care and therapy to help you manage post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which can occur long after meth dependence has passed.    

How Dangerous Is Meth?

The litany of health complications that result from meth use can reverberate long after you have stopped using. In fact, meth is so dangerous that first-time users can experience irreversible, if not fatal, consequences like seizures, convulsions, and brain bleed. Overdose can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or organ damage.

The harm methamphetamine causes to the brain cannot be overstated. It profoundly affects the reward and pleasure centers of the brain, so much so that it will prevent you from experiencing other pleasures. The only gratification you can experience is exclusively derived from ingesting more meth. This fortifies the addiction. When meth users experience a comedown, they usually experience profound depression, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms.

Long-term users can also develop psychosis and experience frightening auditory and visual hallucinations. Many meth users will believe they have bugs crawling underneath their skin, for example. This usually causes them to scratch and pick at their skin until they have sores. They also develop “meth mouth,” which is tooth decay so severe that the teeth fall out or completely crumble away.

Meth Abuse Statistics

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to crystal meth, Arete Recovery can help you on your rehabilitation journey. We offer medical detox and residential treatment. We can also direct you to outpatient programs at our sister sites.  

Call our 24/7 helpline at (855) 781-9939 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about which of our treatment programs is best for you or your loved one. You can also contact us online for more information.