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The Ultimate Guide to Methamphetamine

Nickolaus Hayes By Nickolaus Hayes | Last Updated: 23 November 2023

The dangers involved with using methamphetamine have changed significantly. While the drug is inherently deadly, introducing fentanyl has brought meth use to the level of Russian roulette. Fentanyl and meth have ravaged communities across the nation.

  • What You'll Learn

People need to know the signs of meth use, recognize meth psychosis, and know how to help someone addicted to methamphetamine.

Deaths involving methamphetamine in the United States increased 50-fold between 1999 and 2021, primarily driven by the co-involvement of street-level opioids. The use of methamphetamine and opioids is nothing new. Yet, the toxicity of unregulated fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has increased the danger of meth substantially.

Below is a helpful guide to recognizing meth addiction, how to help someone experiencing meth psychosis, and how to prevent meth addiction.

How to Recognize Methamphetamine Use

Amid the opioid epidemic, the standard indicators of someone using methamphetamine may not always be visible if the drug is laced with fentanyl. However, it’s good to know the common signs because most methamphetamine users have a history of drug use.

When someone is using methamphetamine, they may experience the following symptoms:

Hyperactivity, which may include excessive talking, excessive moving, and refusal to eat or sleep.

Extreme excitement, confusion, and mood swings.

Symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.

Frequent scratching, usually due to a hallucination.

Shaking or twitching in the body or face.

Nausea, sweating, and hyperthermia.

High blood pressure, increased heart rate, and irregular heartbeat.

Rapid eye movement, enlarged pupils, and fast breathing.

Most meth users binge-use the drugs and will never achieve the same effects they felt the first time. Towards the end of the binge, they begin to experience tweaking; this can last for multiple days or weeks.

Recognizing Meth Psychosis and How to Help

Trouble sleeping and irritability

Violent outbursts, anger, and frustration

Symptoms of psychosis and self-harm

Meth psychosis occurs among 40% of people who use the drugs. The symptoms of meth psychosis include delusional thoughts, aggressive behavior, and seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there. Hallucinations or delusions often develop during or after the drug is used or during withdrawal, and psychotic symptoms may occur.

Meth psychosis is generally associated with chronic methamphetamine use. Changes in the brain occur, making a person more susceptible to psychosis. An individual could have no history of psychotic episodes and experience meth-induced psychosis. There are some essential things to consider.

How to Help During Meth Psychosis

If someone is experiencing psychosis it is important to handle it currently so you do not make the situation worse. Here are some tips to help someone who is in a psychotic state due to methamphetamine use.

Remain calm in a terrifying situation. Stay with the person and keep your voice and movements slow and steady so as not to scare them anymore.

Stabilization in a hospital or inpatient setting is critical. This would help avoid self-harm or a violent situation.

Treatment is essential and can occur in a hospital setting or residential drug rehab center. Generally, a hospital will be the first option in an emergency.

Tips To Help Someone Addicted to Meth

There are three essential tips that anyone can use to help someone who is addicted to methamphetamine. Consider the following:

  • Approach the topic of their meth use or addiction when calm or sober. If you want to connect with them, do so when they are not actively using the drug. It’s also essential to avoid this conversation if they are experiencing meth psychosis. In this situation, immediate medical attention is required.
  • It’s ok to show disapproval for their methamphetamine use, but not them as a person. Criticize the drug, not the person. Show how the drug has negatively impacted their life.
  • Make a compassionate plea asking them to get help. Use “I” statements like “I am worried meth is destroying your life.”

Ultimately, an intervention could be staged if it were felt that this initial conversation would go nowhere.

Additional Meth Resources

Helpful Articles

SAMHSA Logo

Know the Risks of Meth


An article from SAMHSA on the risks of using methamphetamine.

NIH logo

Methamphetamine DrugFacts


Information about Metamphetamine from the National Institutes of Health

Crystal Meth: What You Should Know

An article from WebMD on what you should know about Crystal Meth

Helpful Video

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Author

AUTHOR

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Nickolaus Hayes has been working with Drug Rehab Services for the past ten years. Over the past 15 years, he has remained connected to helping people who have been struggling with addiction. He first started working as an intake counselor at a drug rehabilitation center in 2005. During the five years as an intake counselor, he was able to help hundreds of people find treatment. Nickolaus was also fortunate to be able to work with professional interventionists, traveling across the country performing interventions. Over the many years being involved with Drug Rehab Services, he has been able to contribute through the written word. Nickolaus has seen first-hand what drugs and alcohol can do to a family and an addict. He remains dedicated to helping people stay informed about drugs and alcohol. Through the endless amount of information available on the internet, it is important to have current up-to-date facts about drug and alcohol abuse. His main focus is keeping the truth about drugs out there for everyone to access and read for themselves.

Reviewer

MEDICAL REVIEWER

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.