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Crystal Meth Addiction Signs and Symptoms: What To Look For?

meth cravings

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Crystal meth is a form of the drug methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline substance that creates a false sense of well-being. It gives the user a strong feeling of confidence, energy, and even hyper activeness. Users may also experience a loss of appetite. On the other hand, it is also very addictive. What are the Crystal Meth addiction signs and symptoms to look out for? Let’s find out.

Table of Contents

Crystal Meth Effects

By using crystal meth, ice, chalk, or crystal, the user makes changes to his central nervous system. The stimulant’s effects usually last between six and eight hours, but in some cases, it can affect the user for up to 24 hours.
Almost every crystal meth user develops a strong desire to continue using from the get-go. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. It creates many withdrawal symptoms the moment someone stops using it. These can include severe depression, anxiety, psychosis, fatigue and intense cravings.

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Crystal Meth Addiction Signs and Symptoms

No matter which route of administration was chosen, a meth user will experience a swift onset of the effects. If someone is abusing meth, look out for the following crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms:

  • When under the influence, the user may show increased physical activity, due to the hyper activeness caused by the drug.
  • The user will have an increased breathing rate, due to their increased blood pressure.
  • It will elevate the user’s body temperature, which will cause heavy sweating, without realizing that they’re feeling hot.
  • Dilated pupils are always an immediate sign of drug abuse.
  • An unusual loss of appetite will occur. Eventually, it will lead to rapid weight loss. Narconon adds that this is why people addicted to crystal meth usually look thin and malnourished.
  • A crystal meth addict can go for long periods of time without any sleep. This can last for several days.
  • One of the most common crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms is paranoia and irritability. The person will also appear anxious or nervous.
  • The crystal meth addict may show signs of sexual excitement, even for no particular reason.
  • A rush of euphoria will be the result of the use. It will seem pretty obvious to those around the user.
  • A crystal meth addict’s behavior will be unpredictable. This can be very dangerous for the user, as well as those around him or her.
  • It is not uncommon for someone addicted to crystal meth to be doing repetitive, absolutely meaningless tasks.
  • Crystal meth addiction can cause chronic diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • As with other drugs, one of the crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms to look out for is unusual tremors.
  • Someone with a crystal meth addiction will usually have bad breath and a dry mouth from inhaling the substance.
  • Chronic headaches are usually a sign of a more serious condition or one of the crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms.
  • Many drugs share the symptom of unconscionable clenching of the jaw. Sometimes, it’s not just caused by stress, it could be a sign of addiction.
  • This may seem unusual, as one of the other crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms are an increase of energy and physical activity. But after it wears off and the user can’t have his or her fix, they will show signs of extreme fatigue.
  • It is entirely possible for a crystal meth addict to show signs of violent behavior.
  • One can often hear a crystal meth addict wheezing, and not because they are sick or have asthma. However, it’s because crystal meth addiction causes respiratory or airway abnormalities.
  • The user’s persistently elevated heart rate, place them at the risk of a heart attack.
  • Seizures for no apparent reason? The reason could be crystal meth addiction.

Meth Abuse Signs Around the House

If a loved one is suspected in crystal meth abuse, here are a few things, besides the signs and symptoms, one can look for:

  • Meth is a white or light brown crystalline powder. By its form, crystal meth is clear, chunky crystal (they resemble shards of glass or broken pieces of ice). Note, that the crystals are usually white; however, the strawberry meth with pink or red crystals can also be found.
  • Looking for traces of meth use? Look for small bags containing crystals, white powder or syringes.
  • Other items to look for include soda cans with a hole in the side, crumpled aluminum foil, or shafts of ball-point pens with the ink taken out.

Getting Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

If someone is showing any crystal meth addiction signs and symptoms, it is time to get help immediately. Invest time in proper research to find the right rehabilitation center. Make sure that the clinic must offer the following services:


The patient will go for a period without crystal meth, under the watchful eye of a qualified medical practitioner. He will monitor and treat the withdrawal symptoms.


After the detox, the patient should meet with a counselor to find the right path of treatment.
A counselor should meet with the patient to determine the following:

  • How long the crystal meth abuse has been going on;
  • How motivated the patient is to kick the habit;
  • Support from family and friends;
  • The patient’s educational and employment status;
  • The patient’s current physical and mental health status.

Once the information is in place, the counselor will be able to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. This will also determine whether the patient will be better suited for inpatient or outpatient treatment.


There are several therapy methods. The Matrix Therapy Model has become pretty popular lately. This will allow the patient to enroll in individual, as well as group counseling sessions.
Use Contingency Management to motivate patients to stay in treatment and work through their crystal meth addiction. This works on a sort of ‘’rewards program’’ where they award the users with incentives for certain milestones.


Addiction is something a person will struggle with for the rest of his or her life. Therefore, it is advisable to find support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and attend the meetings. It also gives the person something to keep busy with. As a result, it will promote abstinence.

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  1. Alasdair M. Barr, William J. Panenka, G. William MacEwan, Allen E. Thornton, Donna J. Lang, William G. Honer, Tania Lecomte. The need for speed: an update on methamphetamine addiction. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2006 Sep; 31(5): 301–313.
  2. Nordahl TE, Salo R, Leamon M. Neuropsychological effects of chronic methamphetamine use on neurotransmitters and cognition: a review. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2003;15:317-25.
  3. Hart CL, Ward AS, Haney M, et al. Methamphetamine self-administration by humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001;157:75-81.
  4. Janina Dyba, Diana Moesgen, Michael Klein, Birgit Leyendecker. Mothers and fathers in treatment for methamphetamine addiction—Parenting, parental stress, and children at risk. Child And Family Social Work. Vol 24, pp 106-114.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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  • Brenda Beltran
    very helpful.