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Methamphetamine Abuse


Methamphetamine (meth) abuse

is any use of meth, or needing more meth for the same effects you got from smaller amounts.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Fast or fluttering heartbeat, and chest pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever, chills, and sweats
  • Ringing in your ears or grinding your teeth
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Seizure or coma

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have chest pain, and your heartbeat or breathing is faster than usual.
  • You are so nervous that you cannot function.
  • You feel sick or vomit, or have headaches or trouble breathing while being around or cooking meth. You may also feel dizzy.
  • Children or others who have been near meth look or act ill, or will not wake up.
  • You have a seizure.
  • You want to hurt yourself or someone else.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You are using meth and know or think you may be pregnant.
  • You have withdrawal symptoms and want to start using meth again.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Meth withdrawal

occurs when you decrease or stop using meth. You may have trouble coping with the symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal signs and symptoms go away in days to weeks after you stop using meth. Meth withdrawal can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Feeling sad or wanting to kill yourself
  • Strong cravings for meth
  • Feeling tired, sleeping longer than usual or not being able sleep at all, or bad dreams
  • Trouble focusing on a task, moving more slowly and taking longer to complete tasks, or feeling restless
  • Feeling nervous, angry, hungry, or unwell, or thinking people are trying to hurt you

Treatment for meth abuse:

A monitor will be used to check your heart. You may be given treatments to decrease a high body temperature. You may also need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to absorb the drug if you swallowed meth, or to lower your blood pressure. Medicines may be given to help you stay calm, reduce depression, or decrease false thoughts.
  • Contingency management is a program to help meth users stop using drugs by giving rewards. You may be rewarded for staying in treatment or giving drug-free urine samples. You may get rewards for having STI or tuberculosis tests, or getting vaccines to help decrease the spread of disease. Rewards may include vouchers to buy food.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change your thinking and behavior. It can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by meth use. CBT can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group with others.
  • Family therapy and support groups are meetings with a talk therapist and other people who have used meth or other drugs. Your friends and family may be asked to attend treatment sessions with you. Programs near where you live may support your choice to quit using drugs. Ask your healthcare provider for information about programs in your town.
  • Harm reduction is a program to help support your choice to prevent spreading disease. You may be able to return used needles and syringes and replace them with clean ones.

Long-term effects of meth abuse:

  • Memory and concentration problems can make it hard to learn or remember information. You may feel confused. You may also do things more slowly than before.
  • Behavior problems may include violent or impulsive actions. Impulsive means you act without thinking first.
  • Physical problems include heart weakness or damage. Your heart may have trouble working correctly. Men may have a decreased ability to have sex.
  • Self-care problems include not keeping yourself clean and not eating properly because you are focused on using meth. Meth may cause you to look older than you really are.
  • Skin problems may happen if you start picking at your skin or do not care for needle marks. You may think you see or feel bugs on or under your skin and try to pick them off. Skin picking causes sores to grow, and the sores can get infected. Meth injection causes needle marks on your skin. Needle marks can also get infected.
  • Mouth problems can develop from meth use. Meth can cause dry mouth and make you chew, clench, or grind your teeth more than normal. This causes your teeth to wear down. Your teeth may turn dark or black. They may break, crumble, or fall apart. Your teeth may need to be pulled out.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Methamphetamine Abuse (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

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Further information

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