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Meth Addiction: Everything You Need To Know

By Nigistry Lulu
In 2018, about 2 million people in the U.S. said they’d used methamphetamine in the past year.

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly potent, highly addictive drug. It’s a stimulant that affects your central nervous system, which includes your brain.

In rare cases, it's been prescribed to help treat ADHD and severe obesity. But most people in the U.S. who take meth use illegal street versions of it, known by names like crank, ice, and speed. It can look like a white powder, pill, pieces of glass, or shiny blue-ish rocks. Depending on how it's made, it can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected.

Abusing meth can leave you with lasting physical and mental problems. Here’s what you need to know about this dangerous drug.

Why It’s So Addictive

Meth’s pleasurable effects can make it an easy drug to become addicted to, says Leah K. Walker, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist who’s helped patients battling substance abuse.

Some of meth’s short-term, feel-good effects are:

  • Boosted attention and wakefulness
  • Less fatigue
  • Intense excitement and happiness (euphoria)

Once the high disappears, though, your brain continues to want the drug to experience the effect repeatedly. People who’ve had substance abuse disorders may be more prone to developing a new addiction. And users with a history of mental illness are at heightened risk for addiction.

Symptoms of Meth Use

In addition to the feel-good effects, dangerous short-term symptoms of meth use can include:

  • Faster breathing and heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure and temperature 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Less appetite

In the long run, using meth can bring on severe physical and mental symptoms. Some long-term physical symptoms of meth use are:

  • Weight loss
  • Serious dental problems
  • Itching that leads to skin sores from scratching

Long-term mental symptoms of meth use can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations or delusions

If you use meth for a while and then stop, you could have withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Craving for the drug

Get Help Now

Whether you’re addicted to meth or you’re worried a loved one may be using it, treatments can help and recovery is possible. Behavioral therapies are the main treatments. There are several kinds, including:

Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of counseling can help you change your thinking patterns and avoid your triggers.

Contingency management interventions: This therapy rewards you for sticking to your treatment and staying off meth.

Matrix model: This program uses approaches like one-on-one counseling, family education, drug testing, and 12-step support.

After-care and Support Groups

Along with continuing to get therapy, you can also get help adjusting to drug-free life with ongoing support from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous.

Note that WebMD Connect to Care advisors are standing by to help answer any questions about addiction treatment.

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Treatment & Resources for Meth Addiction