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How to Tell if Your Spouse Is Using Meth

By Marta Manning
Learn the possible signs that your loved one may be using methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine use can cause many health problems, including addiction and overdose. If you’re concerned that a loved one is using meth, here are some symptoms to look out for.

“Meth deeply affects both a user’s brain and body, and these symptoms and warning signs are visible in a variety of ways,” physician and medical writer Esteban Kosak, MD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “One of the first symptoms of meth abuse is a sudden loss of interest in areas of life that were once important to the person. Hobbies, relationships, and career goals will all begin to take a back seat to getting and using meth.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Partnership to End Addiction list the following symptoms that someone is using meth:

  • Not being able to sleep
  • Long periods of not sleeping, alternating with long periods of sleep (24-48 hours)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sores that have trouble healing
  • Not eating
  • Extreme skin breakouts
  • Rotting teeth
  • Non-stop, rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking and twitchiness 

Behavioral Signs of Meth Use

Using meth often leads to a dramatic change in behaviors and habits. Aida T. Jusufovic, PsyD, says meth abusers can experience unusual euphoria or show aggression and violence. “When using meth, one may stay awake for days, and then ‘crash’ and sleep for days,” she says. 

“Meth abuse can cause psychosis in some users,” says psychiatrist Yalda Safai, MD. She says that symptoms of this include: 

  • Delusions 
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations 
  • Paranoia 
  • Irritability 

“Intense scratching is a physical side effect that is due to psychosis and the feeling of bugs crawling over skin,” Safai says. “The scratching and picking are ways to relieve this perceived hallucination. As a result, skin abrasions and rashes will likely develop and are an easy way to tell if a loved one is using meth.”

She says other behavioral signs include: 

  • High motivation to accomplish tasks 
  • Less need for sleep 
  • Speaking fast and moving between topics quickly 
  • Less need for food 
  • Unable to sit still

Due to the drug’s effects on the brain, meth addicts often start to engage in repetitive behaviors, like compulsive cleaning or taking apart objects, then putting them back together. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), chronic meth use may lead to changes in brain regions that help control habitual and repetitive activities.

If you live with someone who is using meth, you may come across traces of the drug. Meth is sold as either white powder, pills, or as crystal meth—clear, shiny crystals with a glassy appearance. Users can smoke, swallow, inject, or snort the drug to get high.

 You may also find paraphernalia for using meth, including:

  • Burned spoons
  • Syringes and needles
  • Loose razor blades
  • Straws or rolled-up dollar bills for snorting

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.

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