Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Addiction

If you suspect that someone close to you is addicted to crystal meth, be on the lookout for drug paraphernalia like glass pipes, foil packets or syringes. You may notice a deterioration in their physical appearance and hygiene, or observe changes in the way their clothes fit. Chronic meth users frequently have problems with their teeth and skin, and their hair may lose its luster due to malnutrition. With repeated use, they can develop a physical tolerance to meth, which means that they need more of the drug to produce the same pleasurable effects.

Named after its glassy, crystalline appearance, crystal methamphetamine is a smokeable form of meth, a man-made central nervous system stimulant. Because crystal meth has a higher level of purity than lower grades of street meth, it may last longer and have a higher potency than other forms of the drug, warns the U.S. Department of Justice. Detecting the signs and symptoms of crystal meth addiction may help you or someone you care about avoid the life-threatening effects of methamphetamine abuse, such as:

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Learning problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Complications with pregnancy
  • Birth defects

Physical Signs of Addiction

It doesn’t take long to develop a dependence on crystal meth. The drug is extremely addictive, taking over your brain’s natural reward system. People who have been smoking, snorting or injecting this habit-forming stimulant may display physical symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Nosebleeds
  • Scabbed areas on their skin
  • Infections in the areas where they inject the drugs
  • Tooth and gum problems
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Sleeping problems


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Psychological and Behavioral Effects

Crystal meth can cause dramatic changes in mood, emotions and behavior. This central nervous system stimulant affects the way the user feels and acts, creating bursts of energy and sensations of euphoria. But meth can also cause aggressive, violent or obsessive behavior. People who are addicted to meth may have unpredictable outbursts and paranoid delusions. They may lie, steal or sell drugs in order to support their addiction. They may seem confused, get very little sleep and have problems with short-term memory. Severe depression may follow an episode of heavy meth use.

According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, a high percentage of meth users are women. Statistics collected by this organization show that more women seek treatment for meth addiction than for any other drug, except for tranquilizers and opiates. Women or girls who are preoccupied with weight loss may be drawn to crystal meth because it stimulates metabolism and promotes weight loss. Because crystal meth addiction can cause serious problems with pregnancy and may result in birth defects, it’s especially important for women to get help if they’re pregnant or hoping to have children.

Getting Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth addiction can destroy your physical health, your family relationships, your friendships and your future — even if you’re not the one who’s abusing the drug. Getting to know the signs of addiction is only the first step in escaping the trap of methamphetamine dependence. When you’re ready to reach out for help, contact the addiction experts at Alta Mira. Our holistic recovery programs can help you and your loved ones break free from crystal meth addiction.