Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is used by about 1.4 million Americans on an annual basis, according to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. While this does not mean that all individuals who have experimented with the drug have become long-term users of meth, it does show just how available this drug is to individuals who may form a drug problem. In recent years, it’s been reported by drug enforcement agents that the purity of meth sold has dropped drastically. In 2005, crystal meth was about 77 percent pure. By the spring of 2006, it was only 51 percent pure. While use of crystal meth regardless of its components is dangerous, addicts that are using today have no idea what they’re putting into their bodies. In addition to the methamphetamine, there are other toxins that can add to the detrimental effects their addiction wreaks upon their health.

Addicts rarely choose to get help with a drug addiction on their own, which means family and friends play an important role. They’re in a position to identify the signs and symptoms of crystal meth addiction, intervene and save the life of someone they love. Of course, understanding the signs of crystal meth addiction is essential to carry out this role.

Physical Symptoms

The signs of crystal meth use can be pretty blatant in a long-term addict, which makes drug addiction to this substance a bit easier to detect by non-medical professionals.  Individuals who are around a crystal meth addict regularly are certain to notice changes in behavior and physical appearance. Although, in some cases, even individuals that don’t know a meth addict well will detect the addiction due to certain symptoms. Signs that family and friends can watch out for in order to help determine if a loved one is an addict include the following:

  1. Behavioral Signs of Meth Use – Often the most obvious signs of meth addiction can include the behavioral ones. It’s not unusual for individuals to exhibit violent or aggressive behavior, appear irritable on a frequent basis or seem confused or anxious.
  2. Psychosis Due to Meth Use – Psychosis is more common in long-term meth addicts. Extreme paranoia, delusions and hallucinations are common. One frequent delusion for meth addicts is that they have insects under their skin or that their skin is crawling. This also leads to a physical sign as they may pick at their skin causing open sores.
  3. Weight Changes Due to Meth Use – As crystal meth suppresses the appetite, almost every meth addict loses a significant amount of weight. In fact, extreme anorexia with serious complications may develop due to the addiction.
  4. Physical Signs of Meth Use – In addition to the open sores on the body and the weight loss, meth addicts often end up with rotting teeth due to long-term use. Physical signs of meth addiction that surface earlier on can include sweating or agitation due to an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. Respiratory problems can also appear and become apparent.

If friends or family believe their loved one has become a crystal meth addict, then it’s important that they understand what the next step is to get them they help they need.

When Addiction Is Suspected

Since crystal meth addicts can have violent tempers and are known for acting irrationally, it’s not easy for a friend or family member to bring up the addiction with the person suffering. This could trigger any sort of response in them that would not be favorable. Loved ones who just want to help may be putting themselves at risk. The better option if crystal meth use is suspected is to speak with an addiction or mental health counselor. Addiction counselors better understand the minds of crystal meth addicts and can arrange an intervention that includes the family. These individuals also ensure that it happens in a manner that is most likely to bring about a good response from the addict. An intervention is designed not to alienate an addict, but instead show them that their family loves them and is concerned about what their addiction to crystal meth is costing them. An intervention can help persuade a meth addict that it’s time to get the treatment that they require.


If a meth addict agrees to get help following an intervention, then a treatment option is selected to help them through their recovery. Inpatient or outpatient treatment for meth addicts is available. Either option can help meth addicts detox from the drug and learn coping mechanisms that can prevent them from using in the future.

Understanding the signs of meth use is so important. If meth addiction is overlooked by family and friends, addicts may never get the help they require.