The Sober Living AZ Blog

What Does Meth Addiction Look Like?

Posted on 01/30/20: Addiction Recovery

Methamphetamine addiction is nothing to mess around with. Abuse of meth takes an extreme toll on a person’s body, mind, social life, relationships, and more. Activities that a person once enjoyed are suddenly no longer of interest to them. Everything in a person’s life will take a back seat to using and acquiring more meth. Naturally, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that neither we nor our loved ones ever fall under the influence of this drug. This is why it is important to know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse.

But first… what is meth? 

Methamphetamine is one of the strongest and most addictive drugs out there. It can go by many names on the street: chalk, speed, crystal, meth, ice, crank, etc. This drug is strong, cheap, and relatively easy to make. Some people even go as far as to try and make their own batch of meth with readily available ingredients. However, this hardly ever goes to plan because it is highly dangerous. Nevertheless, it can be fairly easy for one to get their hands on this dangerous substance. 

This drug is a powerful stimulant that has a strong effect on the users’ nervous system. When ingested, it stimulates the brain to release increased amounts of dopamine, creating a euphoric sensation for the user. Some have described the euphoric experience with meth as similar experiences they’ve had on cocaine. Both drugs act as stimulants and increase the amount of dopamine that is released in the user’s brain. Meth is actually very similar to an ADHD medication, Amphetamine, which can also be highly addictive. This drug comes in two forms; a white, powdery substance or in a crystallized form. This drug can be melted down and injected into the bloodstream or smoked through a pipe to experience the full effects of the substance. 

Behavioral and Physical Symptoms

A lot of the time, you can tell a person is under the influence of meth based on how they look and act, especially if they have been using over a long period of time. Here are some of the telltale physical signs:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Skin sores
  • Burns
  • Sudden, often dramatic weight loss
  • Burns, particularly on lips or fingers
  • Rotting teeth


  • Twitchiness, facial tics
  • Jerky movements
  • Hyperactivity
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Sleep troubles
  • Mood swings


A big symptom of use is “tweaking”. Tweaking is a period of anxiety and insomnia, usually lasting around three to 15 days. This behavior occurs at the end of a drug binge when the user cannot achieve a high any longer. This leads to paranoia, irritability, and confusion brought on by the desperation to use again. Even more serious side effects can be hallucinations and violent behavior.


A phase of meth use referred to as the “crash phase”, is another telling sign of addiction. This is caused by the lack of dopamine brought on by meth use. When meth has been supplying dopamine to the brain over a long period of time, the brain adjusts and corrects this overflow by supplying less dopamine naturally. So, when a person is unable to acquire and use more meth to sustain this, the body crashes and the person spirals into deep exhaustion, intense cravings, and depression that can last anywhere from one to three days.


A more concrete sign of meth use is paraphernalia used to ingest methamphetamines. 

Glass Pipes. Meth pipes are usually long, glass cylinders with rounded, bulbous ends. A used pipe will be blackened on the underside of the rounded end from being burnt with a lighter or heat source.

Homemade Pipes. Lightbulbs are commonly used as a make-shift smoking device. The inner parts are removed and the empty glass bulb can be lit underneath to heat up the meth inside.

Tin Foil. Multiple pieces of creased tin or aluminum foil can be a sign that it was used to ingest meth. Meth users will place the drug in the crease, heat the foil to evaporate the drug and inhale the smoke.

Aluminum cans. Meth users may create a smoking device out of aluminum cans by making indentations and pin-sized holes. This allows them to place meth on the indentations and inhale smoke through the opening of the can.

Cut straws and empty pens. Cut straws or empty plastic pens are popular for snorting meth as the drug does not easily stick to the plastic material.

Needles and Syringes. Hypodermic needles lying around despite no medical condition that would require injections are a sure sign of drug use. Finding these needles indicates that someone is shooting either meth or heroin.

Sandwich Baggies. It is often packaged in small plastic bags or baggies made from the corners of larger sandwich bags. Baggies with crystalline powder with an off-white or light brownish hue or chunky pieces of clear residue that resembles broken glass are a sure sign of meth use. 

Long-term Health Effects

The long-term effects of use are pretty terrifying, which is why it is absolutely crucial that if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to this drug, that you address it immediately and seek help. Long-term users can experience:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Rotting teeth
  • Malnutrition
  • Premature aging
  • Birth defects & reproductive issues
  • Skin infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures

Long-term psychological effects include:

  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Impaired cognition
  • Depression
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

Addiction to meth doesn’t look good

In fact, it looks pretty scary. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to meth, it is imperative to seek professional help as soon as possible. An immediate detoxification period will be necessary, followed by a holistic treatment plan customized to one’s individual needs. Rehabilitation and successful recovery are possible, so have hope. 

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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