Meth addiction is running rampant in the United States. In fact, up to 1.6 million people reported using meth in a 2017 survey.  Meth is short for methamphetamine – a highly addictive stimulant drug that is long-lasting, potent, and known to have many adverse side effects. Meth affects the central nervous system and results in increased energy, decreased appetite, and feelings of euphoria. Users often chase their next high compulsively, which leads to the development of dangerous and risky behaviors. However, as soon as a person who is addicted ingests the drug, they feel a sense of relief. This makes meth such an addictive substance.
Sometimes it is difficult to know if someone is addicted to meth, as they may not be open about their use. Other people have difficulty determining if they themselves are addicted to meth. It’s important to know the signs of meth addiction so you can determine whether or not you or a loved one need to seek help from a drug rehab near you. There are four tell-tale signs of meth addiction and abuse.
Dental Issues or “Meth Mouth”
One of the most well-known side effects of meth abuse is dental issues. This is commonly referred to as “meth mouth”. People who suffer from meth addiction often choose to smoke the drug, which leads to dry mouth. In addition, the drug itself increases levels of anxiety and restlessness, which results in excessive and even constant teeth grinding.  Dry mouth combined with teeth grinding is known to cause some serious dental issues that are not only painful but expensive to fix as well.
Similarly, people suffering from meth addiction also tend to have poor nutrition due to having a decreased appetite. This loss of appetite results in not eating enough food and, therefore, malnutrition. People in the grips of addiction also don’t usually take the time to care for their bodies, so dental hygiene, such as brushing and flossing, is no longer a part of their normal routine. This leads to severe tooth decay and loss of teeth. Many meth users will have multiple missing teeth and rotting teeth, which is usually a pretty easy sign to spot.
Behavioral Changes and Mood Swings
Meth affects the central nervous system, which means it directly acts on the brain. Meth abuse makes the brain extremely alert and leads to restlessness, agitation, and high levels of anxiety. Meth is also known to increase levels of brain cells known as microglia.  Microglia work to defend the brain and get rid of unhealthy neurons. In abnormally high concentrations, which is the case with meth addiction, microglia attack normal, healthy neurons. As a result, long-term meth addicts may suffer brain damage.
Brain damage from meth addiction often manifests as psychosis. People suffering from meth-related brain injury are prone to unexplainable bouts of violence and mood changes. Seeing someone act erratically, inappropriately, and even aggressively to different situations is a strong indication that addiction may be the culprit. Meth addiction also affects motor speed and verbal learning. If someone is struggling with motor function and speech, it’s just one more sign of meth addiction.
Individuals suffering from meth addiction often resort to extreme measures to get the drug. When people run out of money for drugs, they turn to other means to get what they want. This includes stealing, lying, and cheating. It can come in the form of stealing from stores, but many people steal directly from family members and friends. They will continually lie to people they love to obtain money or anything else they need. It’s not that this person is a bad person but that their addiction is so strong.
Some families choose to alienate loved ones who abuse meth and act out in these behaviors. However, this typically doesn’t stop people from seeking out the drug. In fact, people who are in the throes of addiction are known to exploit themselves by engaging in risky sexual behaviors in cases where stealing and begging is not an option. They’ll often exchange sexual favors for drugs, putting them at high risk of contracting STD’s.
In extreme cases, some people will try to make meth themselves at home built meth labs. Creating meth is a very dangerous and volatile chemical process – even for the most experienced meth cooks. Many people who choose to make meth at a home meth lab don’t know how to safely handle the chemicals, so they are at risk of causing major explosions that can lead to severe injury or even death.
Altered Physical Appearance
People in the grips of meth addiction typically appear sickly and unhealthy. As a result of appetite suppression, they undereat, if they eat at all. This leads to drastic weight loss and many people who are abusing meth are significantly underweight. People suffering from meth addiction also often have poor hygiene and have an unkempt appearance. This can mean wearing old, torn, or dirty clothes and leaving hair unbrushed and unwashed.
Another consequence of meth abuse is skin sores. People who are abusing meth often experience hallucinations which commonly come in the form of imagining bugs crawling on the skin. As a result, some people continually scratch and pick at their skin, creating open sores, in an effort to relieve the imagined sensation. If you notice high anxiety, picking at the skin, and extreme weight loss, it’s a sign of meth addiction.
Getting Help For Meth Addiction
If you or a loved one relate to any of these signs, you might be addicted to meth and need to speak to an addiction specialist. Recovery from meth addiction is difficult on your own, but there is addiction treatment available. The most effective treatment for meth addiction is inpatient rehabilitation at a certified drug and alcohol treatment center.
Our drug addiction center in Jeffersonville, Indiana is here to help. Our staff of certified addiction counselors work closely with clients to develop individualized treatment plans. Meth addiction might seem endless, but with treatment from PAX Riverbend Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center, recovery is possible.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.