Meth Addiction Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers high-quality services and support for adolescents, adults, and senior adults who are struggling with methamphetamine addiction. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of meth addiction treatment.

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth addiction

Methamphetamine, known more commonly as meth, is a dangerous and addictive stimulant. The effects of meth abuse can range from short-term problems to lifelong damage. If you have been struggling with a meth addiction, it’s imperative to seek help as soon as possible.

Meth can be injected, smoked, snorted, or swallowed. The drug itself works by triggering the central nervous system to release a surge of dopamine (a hormone that is associated with pleasure). This will make the person feel euphoric, more confident, and more energetic for a period of time. However, the effects of meth are short-lived. The pleasurable effects of meth abuse will give way to an emotional and psychological crash. In order to avoid or overcome these distressing effects, people may feel compelled to use meth again and again. Thus, one occurrence of meth use can quickly lead to a cycle of abuse and addiction.

Without professional help, the cycle of meth addiction can be almost impossible to break. Thankfully, treatment for meth addiction is available for anyone who is struggling. When you choose to get help at an effective methamphetamine addiction treatment center, you can overcome your urges, regain control of your thoughts and actions, and achieve long-term recovery from meth addiction.


Statistics about meth addiction

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have published the following statistics about meth abuse and addiction in the United States:

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

There are varying factors that can influence an individual’s probability of becoming addicted to meth. Some of these causes and risk factors include:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Personal history of addiction
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Being a young adult
  • Being white/Caucasian
  • Being in a high-stress environment
  • Having a history of trauma
  • Living in poverty

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of meth addiction

Meth use and addiction can bring on a myriad of signs and symptoms. Not everyone will display all of the signs and symptoms, but the following are among the more common indicators that a person has been abusing methamphetamines:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Poor performance at work or in school
  • Failing to meet personal commitments
  • Being secretive or deceptive about one’s whereabouts
  • Attempting to borrow or steal money

Physical symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Hypertension
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Major damage to teeth and gums
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

Mental symptoms:

  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Agitation
  • Sharp mood swings
  • Impaired judgment
  • Trouble remembering


Effects of meth addiction

Meth abuse and addiction can cause significant damage to a person’s health and well-being. Potential negative effects of meth abuse and addiction include the following:

  • Brain damage
  • Loss of muscle mass and bone strength
  • Weakened immune system
  • Exposure to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C
  • Extreme changes in physical appearance
  • Strain in all relationships, personal and professional
  • Struggles at work or in school
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial ruin
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation

It is important to note that these effects can be avoided when you seek effective treatment for meth addiction. During treatment for meth addiction, you can also begin to heal from any past damage this disease has caused. With the right type and level of care, you can achieve long-term recovery from meth addiction.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have meth addiction

If you struggle with meth addiction, you may have an elevated risk for the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Gambling disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Effects of Meth Withdrawal & Overdose

Symptoms of meth withdrawal and the potential impact of meth overdose

Effects of withdrawal: After your body adapts to the presence of meth, trying to end your meth use can trigger a variety of distressing symptoms. The following are examples of potential meth withdrawal symptoms:

  • Powerful cravings for meth
  • Insomnia/hypersomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Gross fatigue

Effects of overdose: Meth overdose can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. If someone who has been using meth shows any of the following effects, seek medical attention as soon as possible:

  • Strained breathing
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • The Jason Foundation