How to Identify Meth Use in a Loved One

Do you worry that your loved one may be abusing meth? That’s a scary feeling—but you should remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources available to both you and your loved one. But the first step is to identify meth use in your loved one.

Today, I want to discuss common signs that your loved one is living with meth addiction.

What Is Meth?

love one is using meth

I’d like to start with a review of what, exactly, methamphetamine is. Commonly referred to as crystal meth or speed, this drug is a highly addictive stimulant. That means it gives users a feeling of alertness and energy. For this reason, many students abuse stimulants (including  psychostimulant medications prescribed for ADHD such as Adderall and Ritalin) to complete coursework, and young adults are especially at risk to become addicted to meth.

If you worry that your loved one is suffering from meth abuse, then you’ll need to know what this drug looks like. Generally, methamphetamine appears as a crystalline, white powder with no odor. Note that you may notice other colors in the powder, such as pink or brown. These discolorations depend on how the meth was made and what substances it was cut with.

If you find meth in your loved one’s living space, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to discuss drug rehabilitation programs. However, even if you never see your loved one near methamphetamine, they could still be taking it. In this case, I’d suggest that you look at their behavior and feelings for common signs and symptoms of meth abuse. 

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Signs Your Loved One Uses Meth

Like with any drug addiction, meth abuse comes with a variety of behavioral changes. While all meth users react to the drug differently, many experience similar behavioral changes. To identify meth use in a loved one, look for these common signs of meth use:

  • Paranoia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Dramatic mood swings

If you notice a combination of these symptoms in your loved one, they may indicate meth use. Additionally, you will likely notice a worsening of your loved one’s mental health. This is due not only to the “normal” effects of meth, but also because hiding drug use may damage their feelings of self-worth. And as their mental health worsens, they may feel more incentive to continue using meth. In the addiction treatment field, we would call these “co-occurring disorders,” wherein each issue worsens the other. 

But the long-term effects of meth go beyond the scope of behavioral health. This drug also has serious physical effects as well. Below are some of the most common physical signs of meth use:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Burns on the lips or fingers
  • Rotting teeth
  • Skin sores

Another common sign of meth use is “tweaking.” This phase occurs when a meth user binges on the drug and subsequently enters a state of pseudo-psychosis. And while it’s brought on by using large quantities of methamphetamine, it can last for several days after taking the drug. If you suspect that your loved one uses meth and they display periods of extreme confusion and erratic behavior, then you may be observing them tweaking after using meth. In fact, because tweaking is so difficult to hide, it is often the easiest way for people to identify meth use in a loved one.

Discussing Meth Use with Your Loved One

meth drug

If you have noticed the above signs of meth use in your friend or family member, then it may be time to discuss this issue with them. Today, I’d like to give you some advice on how to address this situation.

First and foremost, it’s important that you come off as concerned and supportive rather than angry and accusatory. People struggling with meth abuse often experience precarious mental and emotional states, and perceived attacks could worsen their situation. That said, remaining calm in these situations presents a major challenge for many people. So let’s discuss what you can do to keep a cool head.

My biggest piece of advice is to plan a script of what you’d like to say. You don’t need to read off of it, but having a clear outline of points you’d like to address can keep you focused during this emotional conversation. This also lets you plan things to say that present you as the voice of reason without attacking your loved one.

I’d also recommend researching your recovery options. In the best case scenario, your meth user will be willing to attend a meth rehab center. Knowing which addiction treatment facility you’d like them to attend can minimize the time between your discussion of their meth use and their admission to the treatment facility. For people living with addiction, the will to enter recovery can be shaky, so it’s best to act as quickly as possible when they’re ready to seek help.

Treating Meth Addiction

At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, my team and I provide the highest quality of care for our clients. Our care staff includes mental health experts, counselors, and other highly trained addiction recovery specialists. In our dynamic Las Vegas treatment center, we help people regain control of their lives and begin the path to lifelong recovery.

Do you have questions about our treatment center or our programming? You can call our admissions specialists at 1-772-210-3869, or you can fill out our confidential contact form. At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, we want to help your loved one just as much as you do.

Dan Mager VJRC Las Vegas

Dan Mager, MSW, has more than 20 years of post-Master’s experience as a psychotherapist and clinical administrator in a wide range of behavioral health and addiction treatment settings. He also has over 10 years of experience ghostwriting and editing wellness-related books and developing solution-oriented skills-building materials in the form of guidebooks, workbooks, and curricula for the professional and recovery communities, and the general public.

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