How to Tell Someone High on Meth

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Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive and potent stimulant typically found illicitly. It might not be initially obvious that someone is on meth, because effects can vary and depend on the person’s tolerance, the amount ingested, and how long they’ve been using. Other stimulants, including cocaine, prescription amphetamines, and even large amounts of caffeine, can sometimes elicit similar effects. That said, there are common, prominent physical and mental signs and symptoms that may suggest a person is using meth, if not another powerful stimulant.

If you suspect someone you love is using meth, you are urged to seek guidance and support from addiction specialists who can help you get the person into treatment and stage an intervention if necessary. At Guardian Recovery, our licensed, experienced, and caring staff is dedicated to ensuring each individual we treat has all the tools they need to conquer addiction and sustain long-lasting abstinence. If you need help for yourself or a loved one struggling with meth use, contact us today to learn more.

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Signs a Person Is Misusing Meth or Has Developed a Dependence

Meth misuse can have a profound and long-lasting impact on an individual’s physical health, psychological well-being, and personal and professional life. Meth is known for inducing feelings of increased energy, sociality, talkativeness, and euphoria, and these signs are often the first a friend or family member notices. However, there are many other signs, and they may not be obvious unless you know what to look for.

Physical Signs of Meth Use Can Include:

  • Twitching or Shakiness—Often most severely occurring in the arms and legs, meth use can cause overstimulation of the nervous system, leading to involuntary movements, shakiness, and tremors. (1) Long-term meth use can also lead to more serious neurological issues, including seizures.
  • Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss—Significant weight loss can occur due to meth’s ability to suppress appetite and increase metabolism. Over time, meth use can cause malnutrition and other health problems related to weight loss, such as weakness, fatigue, and an increased risk of infection.
  • Nosebleeds and Nasal Damage—When meth is snorted, chemicals can cause damage to the delicate tissues in the nasal passages, which can lead to chronic nosebleeds and other severe conditions, such as septum perforation. (2)
  • Tooth Decay and Gum Disease—Severe tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems can occur. Adverse oral effects that can contribute to dental deterioration include dry mouth, teeth grinding and clenching, poor hygiene, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Skin Problems—Issues can include acne, infections, skin damage, sores, and scars due to skin picking or drug injection. (3)
  • Premature Aging—Meth use can cause the skin to age prematurely, leading to wrinkles, sagging, and a dull complexion.

Additional Physical Signs of Meth Use Include:

  • Dilated pupils.
  • Restlessness provoked by increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
  • Overheating and sweating caused by increased body temperature.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

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Changes in Behavior & Mood Related to Meth Use

Meth use can cause adverse neurological effects that can lead to psychological disruptions and adverse changes in mood and behavior in both the short and long term.

Changes in Behavior Can Include:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive BehaviorThese kinds of behaviors include hyperactivity and the need to engage in unnecessary and repetitive behaviors, such as excessive cleaning. (4)
  • Increased Aggression—This includes feelings of hostility or rage, possibly leading to confrontational and violent behavior. (5)
  • Risky Behavior—Impulsive or risky behaviors include impaired driving, engaging in dangerous physical activities, committing assaults or theft, or participating in unsafe sexual practices.
  • Paranoid Behavior—Meth-induced paranoia can be severe, characterized by irrational fear and suspicions of others.
  • Self-Isolation—Purposeful and intentional social isolation often occurs among many drug users, as they may become withdrawn and avoid contact with loved ones.
  • Sleep Disturbances—This can include both insomnia and hypersomnia, long-term changes in sleep patterns, and the development of sleep disorders. (6)

Chronic meth use can also lead to significant changes in mood and behavior and can contribute to the development of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Changes in Mood & Mental State Include:

  • NeuroticismThese kinds of moods include certain negative feelings such as agitation, irritability, and nervousness. (7)
  • Psychotic Symptoms—Considered similar to schizophrenia, these can include delusions, auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations, and an irrational fear for one’s own safety. (8)
  • Depression and Anxiety—After the desired effects have subsided, the user can experience intense feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Cognitive Deficits—These include both short- and long-term impairments related to attention, concentration, memory, and thinking.

Increased Impulsivity—Over time, meth use can lead to a loss of impulse control that can persist even after use has been discontinued.

What Are the Signs of Dependence & Addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Dependence is a key component of addiction, as it refers to a physical or emotional need for a substance a person experiences when they’ve used a drug so much they’ve become accustomed to its presence in the brain and body.

Signs of Drug Dependence Include:

  • Intense urges or cravings to use the drug.
  • Tolerance, or needing to use increasingly larger amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect.
  • Withdrawal symptoms, or physical and psychological rebound effects resulting from attempts to discontinue drug use. (9)
  • Being unable to stop or limit drug use despite attempts to do so.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to drug use.
  • Continuing to use drugs despite the physical, psychological, or social harm they are causing.
  • Spending significant amounts of time and money on obtaining, using, or recovering from drug use.

How To Help a Loved One Using Meth

If you suspect someone you know is using meth, be sure to approach the situation with care and compassion. It might be beneficial to begin by educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of meth use, as well as the risks and consequences of addiction. You can look into staging an intervention facilitated by a licensed professional who can make sure the conversation remains composed and productive. The goal is to ensure the individual understands that they are loved but that there will also be consequences as long as they refuse to quit or seek treatment.

When you approach them, do your best to express your concerns in a non-confrontational way. Be honest, empathetic, and non-judgmental, and listen carefully to their response. Make sure they know you are worried about their well-being and want to help. You may also suggest they seek professional treatment and let them know you are willing to help them find and receive the support they need.

It’s important to set personal boundaries to protect your own well-being, such as by refusing to enable your loved one’s addiction. Make sure to practice self-care by getting enough rest, seeking emotional support for yourself, and continuing to engage in daily activities that do not revolve around your loved one and their substance use issues.

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Remember that recovery from meth addiction is a journey, and it will take time and effort for your loved one to achieve sobriety. Be patient, supportive, and understanding, and continue to offer help and encouragement along the way. You are also encouraged to reach out to a comprehensive treatment center, such as Guardian Recovery, to learn more about the processes of intervention, admissions, medical detox, behavioral therapy, and long-term treatment. Being educated and prepared is the best thing you can do for your loved one, and we are here to help.

Contact us today to speak to a skilled, caring Treatment Advisor for a free, no-obligation assessment and no-obligation health insurance benefits check. Using appropriate care, support, and a variety of therapeutic services, we help individuals struggling with addiction achieve long-term sobriety and an improved quality of life.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

(1)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358138118_Impact_of_Methamphetamine_on_the_Psychological_and_Physiological_Conditions_of_Addicts_in_Khyber_Pakhtunkhwa_Pakistan (2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3846244/ (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375784/ (4)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10461-010-9719-7 (5)https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/002204260603600104?journalCode=joda (6)https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/44/6/zsab001/6066541?login=false (7)(8)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460309002317 (9)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01160.x

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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