Methamphetamine: Addiction, Abuse, and Side Effects

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine was once widely and legally available in tablet and injectable forms throughout the US. However, a large population abused these products for the stimulant effects; this prompted the FDA to restrict and regulate the drug as a Schedule II controlled substance in 1970. 

Meth is a crystalline powder that is most commonly white, though it can also be yellow, pink, or brown. It is odorless, bitter, and dissolvable in liquid. It’s most commonly consumed via smoking, snorting, or injecting. 

Street names for methamphetamine include:

  • Glass
  • Speed
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Tweak
  • Chalk



Meth Addiction

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that can cause addiction in as little as a single use. This is mainly due to the rush of dopamine produced by the drug on its intake, which is the chemical that’s not only responsible for inducing feelings of pleasure, but also for motivation, memory retention, learning, and reward processing. The rush of dopamine produced by meth is much higher than the natural amount of dopamine that is produced in the brain, which causes people to continue using the drug in order to keep those heightened and pleasurable feelings, despite it being for a fleeting moment.

Many individuals who use meth take the drug over a period of several days, staying perpetually high throughout this duration of time. This often leads to the development of tolerance; after taking the drug for a prolonged period of time, a person will require higher and higher doses to feel the same effects as before. The stimulant effects, along with the drug’s affordability, can lead people to quickly become addicted



Meth Effects And Abuse

Similar to crack, meth produces a “rush” when smoked or injected; this is caused by an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters in the brain. When meth is snorted, it creates a euphoric sensation but not a rush. The rush from injection produces the strongest effects and can last up to 30 minutes. After the initial rush, people using the drug experience a steady high that can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the mode of consumption. Meth users are known to stay up for multiple days in a row due to binge use.

Some of the most common effects of meth include:

  • Elation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Talkativeness
  • Alertness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss


Signs and Symptoms of a Meth Addiction

Only a physician can diagnose a substance use disorder, but there are various signs, symptoms, and side effects of meth use. To be diagnosed with a stimulant use disorder, you would have to demonstrate at least 2 of the following symptoms within a 1-year period of using the substance:

  • Experiencing strong cravings for meth.
  • Having trouble completing what needs to be done at home, school, or work.
  • Inability to stop using meth, even after it has caused or worsened physical, mental, or interpersonal issues.
  • Quitting or cutting back on hobbies to use meth.
  • Spending a lot of time getting or using meth or crashing after a binge.
  • Taking more meth or using it for longer than planned.
  • Using meth in situations that can be dangerous, such as while driving.
  • Want to cut back or stop using but unable to.
  • Developing a tolerance to the effects of meth, where you need to use more to feel the same effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using meth.

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Meth Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Various forms of effective treatment are available to those with an addiction to meth, and the best meth treatment options depend on each individual.  The majority of people who are addicted to meth will go through withdrawal, and medical detox is from meth is the first step prior to comprehensive treatment. Stimulant withdrawal is typically less physically dangerous than withdrawal from some other substances, such as alcohol, opioids, and sedatives. However, methamphetamine withdrawal can produce seizures in some people with other potential dangers including suicidal ideation and the risk of overdose upon relapse.



It generally takes about a week for these symptoms to go away, but the timeline for each person’s withdrawal symptoms may vary.  Detox should be followed by other forms of treatment that address the behavioral and cognitive issues associated with addiction.

Treatment can take place in several different settings. Inpatient rehab or residential treatment occurs when you stay at a facility around the clock while receiving counseling and support. Outpatient treatment allows you to live at home and attend pre-scheduled appointments with varying levels of intensity, depending on your needs and progress in treatment.

Therapy for a Meth Addiction

Behavioral therapy is effective in treating meth addiction. Some behavioral therapy techniques that are commonly used in treatment may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment to prevent relapse by increasing awareness of high-risk situations, developing coping skills, changing harmful behaviors, and managing cravings.
  • Contingency management interventions/motivational incentives, in which tangible rewards reinforce positive behaviors such as attending treatment sessions and not using. As you stay sober, the rewards may increase in value.
  • The Matrix Model, incorporates behavioral therapy, individual therapy, family therapy and education, encouragement to participate in 12-step meetings, drug testing, and positive reinforcement of desirable behaviors such as avoiding substance use and attending treatment.
Find Help with Meth Addiction

When someone suffers from an addiction to meth, it may seem like they will never be able to regain control over their life again. However, an addiction treatment program can help meth users break their physical and psychological dependence on the drug. You or your loved one deserve to live a life where you feel emotionally safe. We can help you heal the mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds of addiction and create a life that feels fulfilling. Contact our recovery centers today for a free, confidential consultation.




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Angela Kunschman

Angela Kunschman

Angela has over 10 years of experience as a content writer and has been in recovery for over 20 years. Angela prides herself on producing great content and providing helpful and factual information to individuals that may be struggling with addiction.

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