Meth Use: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Someone Using Methamphetamines?
The Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse
I wanted to process the senseless death of my own friend by talking about the signs and symptoms of methamphetamine use to encourage people to seek help for their meth addiction or to help others. If this article helps just one person, then it has served its purpose.
Without intervention and rehabilitation, the long-term effects of extended methamphetamine use can be devastating and fatal. Methamphetamine is referred to by many names, including meth, speed, crank, chald, go-fast, zip, and cristy. The smokable form of this drug is often called L.A., ice, crystal (or chrystal), 64glass, or quartz.
The Types of Methamphetamine
How I Lost a Friend to Meth Use
C.W. was only 35 years old and a single mother of two young children (ages 11 and 15). She was a young, talented photographer, and although I had only known her briefly, I knew that she had a drug addiction problem—methamphetamine use to be specific.
C.W. had been found in cardiac arrest with massive amounts of methamphetamine in her system and was later taken off of life support. She had promised to "stop" using on January 1, 2010, and ironically, that was the day she did stop using forever. C.W. died just hours before she promised to "quit drugs."
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Someone Using Methamphetamines?
When it comes to methamphetamine or meth, side effects can vary, but any of these signs or symptoms listed in the table below could indicate that someone you know is using.
Short-Term Meth Use Symptoms
rapid weight loss
sense of well-being
poor personal hygiene
rapid, darting eyes
dangerously high body temperature
increased heart rate
uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking)
dry and itchy skin
rotting teeth or "meth mouth"
loss of appetite
bad acne on the arms, back, and neck
sores and skin lesions
How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine also affects the brain, alters mental stability, and can cause the following symptoms posted in the table below.
The Effects of Methamphetamine Use on the Brain
absence from work or school
days of staying awake
false sense of confidence and power
days of sleeping
delusions of grandeur leading to aggressive behavior
uninterested in friends, sex, or food
aggressive and violent behavior
deception, secretiveness, and lying
How to Identify Drug or Meth Paraphernalia
These items may indicate signs of meth use:
- burned aluminum foil
- light bulbs that have been converted to smoking devices
- small Ziploc baggies
- cut drinking straws
- butane fuel or windproof butane lighters
- small smoking pipes
The Early Warning Signs of Meth Use
The Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use
Long-term meth use can lead to:
- fatal kidney and lung disorders
- brain damage
- permanent psychological problems
- liver damage
- cardiac arrest
How to Help Someone Quit Using Methamphetamine
If you know someone who is displaying any of the above-mentioned symptoms, there is a lot of help online and in most communities. Here are some tips for encouraging a meth user to get help:
- Don't Accept "Later:" Don't let someone tell you that they will get help "later." Tell them that later could be "too late." Tell them later could mean death. Tell them later could mean their children being parentless and their family devastated.
- Stage an Intervention: If necessary, stage an intervention to help your loved one. It could mean the difference between their life and death.
Drug Addiction Can End in Tragedy
In C.W.'s case, she had been abusing methamphetamine for about 11 years. Her family and loved ones struggled to help her over the years, but after her mother died, the stress and the addiction caught up with her and ended in tragedy.
Despite our best efforts to help our family members, sometimes it is never enough. Family and friends should never blame themselves for someone else's drug addiction. Using drugs is a personal choice, and addiction can be very hard to kick—I know, because I used to use a lot of drugs back in the 70s and 80s, including "speed" and "crank." The only reason I stopped is because I started having severe panic attacks. Looking back, I'm glad that this happened to me because I could have ended up like C.W..
A Poll on Meth Use
Do you know anyone who uses Meth?
To the family of C.W. and her children: It's too late to help her but not too late to help someone else. May your family be comforted by the fact that you loved them very much. Your drug addiction was a powerful force and no one is to blame. RIP C.W..