Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment

Understanding This Stimulant And Its Destructive Side Effects

Table of Contents

What is Methamphetamine?

Meth is short for Methamphetamine. It is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the Central Nervous System (CNS). Methamphetamines were first used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like its parent drug, amphetamine, meth causes feelings of well-being, talkativeness, and decreased appetite.

The main difference between amphetamines and methamphetamines is that greater amounts of the drug get into the brain with methamphetamines than amphetamines. Meth is more potent, which can have longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the CNS. With all of these in mind, meth has a high potential for misuse.1

What Does Meth Look Like?

Methamphetamine is commonly found in a white powder or crystal form known as crystal meth. Meth can also be found in tablets and liquids. Meth can be dissolved in alcohol or water, found in different colored powders too.2

What is Crystal Meth?

Typically, crystal meth is manufactured in chemical labs and can preserve the potency with little additives. This process makes crystal meth more addictive and can create a high that can be felt up to 24 hours after use. Crystal meth use increases the risk of abuse or overdose due to its potent and highly addictive nature.

Meth vs. Crystal Meth

Crystal meth refers to a glass-like form of Methamphetamine. A significant difference between crystal meth to other forms is its strength and purity. Crystal meth is a more potent form of Methamphetamine compared to powered forms.

Street Names

Names for methamphetamines other than meth are crystal, ice, speed, and crank. Meth is also referred to as getgo, go fast, and poor man’s coke.

Drug Class

Methamphetamine is in the stimulant class of drugs. This means it increases the rate of messages traveling between the brain and the body. Other drugs in this drug class are cocaine, and amphetamines, like Adderall.

Drug Schedule

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Methamphetamine as a Schedule II stimulant, making it available only through nonrefillable prescriptions. Methamphetamine is rarely prescribed, only in rare cases, and the doses are very low.3

Is Meth Addictive?

Methamphetamine is extremely addictive. Meth addiction is increasing, with amphetamine-type stimulants rising to the second most abused group of drugs worldwide. Meth seizures account for the largest share of global drug seizures annually. Another concern with meth addiction is that pharmacological treatments are minimal.4

How is Methamphetamine Used?

Methamphetamine is made in several ways, so it is misused and abused in many ways.

Meth is smoked, snorted, injected, and swallowed(when in pill form). Meth addiction isn’t loyal to any specific form. It is most commonly abused by smoking it, usually through a glass pipe. Snorting is less common as frequent use through snorting can damage the sinus cavities. Meth can also be injected into the bloodstream where there is a high risk of blood-borne infections like HIV, hepatitis C, and B due to needle sharing. Methamphetamine was originally made for medical use, so pill forms, whether manufactured or homemade, are another drug.5

Signs of Meth Use

When a meth addiction develops, significant reliance on the drug with physical signs of meth use will emerge. Meth mouth and facial sores are common signs of meth use. Other physical characteristics are thinning or frail body, droopy facial skin, liver damage, and intense scratching. Meth causes the teeth to rot, causing the meth mouth that many associate with meth addiction.6

What Does Meth Smell Like?

The chemicals used when making meth give the drug a very pungent chemical smell. Common smells associated with meth may include ammonia, vinegar, or cleaning supplies type smell. These same smells can help identify meth labs.

Meth Side Effects

Short Term Effects

Meth side effects show increased attention and decreased fatigue, decreased appetite and increased wakefulness. Another meth side effect is an intense rush including increased respiration and rapid heartbeat.7

Long Term Effects

Long-term meth side effects include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and in some cases, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions. These long-term meth side effects can even include brain structure changes, including memory loss and deficits in thinking and motor skills. Other long-term meth side effects can be a meth overdose that can lead to death.


A meth overdose can is the body’s reaction to a dosage that the body can’t handle. The body may overheat to fight the problem, which results in multiple organ failure. A sharp rise in blood pressure can lead to a hemorrhage and even liver failure in a meth overdose.5

Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Meth causes intensely pleasurable effects. When it finally wears off, the feeling from withdrawal is as low as the effects are high. This is why long-term use and dependence are so challenging to overcome. Withdrawal occurs as the body begins to adjust to the absence of meth. Once the cycle of tolerance and dependence begins, the body has adjusted to the constant presence of meth. Once it is no longer regularly introduced, the body must re-adjust to the absence of meth. This causes withdrawal symptoms.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be associated with depressive and psychotic states like cravings for the drug, body aches, pain, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. More severe meth withdrawal symptoms can be hallucinations, violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia.5

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Methamphetamine, unlike other stimulants, stays in your system much longer. Meth side effects can last up to 24 hours. The body’s chemistry also plays a role: how well the body’s kidneys and liver are functioning.5

Common Questions about Meth

Is Meth an Opioid?

Meth is not an opioid; meth is a stimulant like cocaine or Adderall. Opioids are known for pain relief, while meth speeds up the central nervous system.

What is Meth Made of?

Meth is a human-made chemical, often made in a lab mixing amphetamine with other chemicals to boost its potency. Using other medications, meth is usually cooked with extra ingredients from those pills but combined with harsh chemicals like battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel, and antifreeze.

Is Adderall a Substitute for Meth?

Both Adderall (also known as amphetamine) and Methamphetamine stimulant the brain but have different risks and potential for being misused. They are often confused because they sound very familiar. Still, meth is much more potent than amphetamine and puts the body more at risk.

How to Stop Using Meth?

The process of stopping using meth is a difficult one and begins immediately after the use of the substance ends. Withdrawal is difficult and comes in two phases. The most intense step of withdrawal is when meth use first stops. This phase comes with increasingly harsher symptoms the longer meth was used. The second phase is less intense and lasts a couple of weeks. Symptoms during this phase include cravings, depression, and sleep issues. Withdrawal is difficult, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests behavioral therapy as an effective long-term treatment option.

Addiction Treatment for Methamphetamine

Common treatments are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM). CBT focuses on underlying thoughts and beliefs that impact behaviors, and CM uses operant conditioning to encourage recovery. If you have a loved one or you are ready to find a path toward healing, work with your local health provider for a referral to a treatment facility today.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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