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Methamphetamine Abuse, Ambulatory Care


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, seeing or hearing things that are not really there
  • Seizure or coma

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain along with faster than usual heart rate or breathing
  • Feeling so nervous that you cannot function
  • Nausea or vomiting, dizziness, or headaches or trouble breathing while being around or cooking meth
  • Children or others who have been near meth look or act ill, or will not wake up
  • Seizure
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or someone else

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, 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:

  • Activated charcoal is medicine that may be given if you swallowed meth. Activated charcoal helps absorb the drug in your stomach. You may vomit.
  • Sedative medicine may be given to help you stay calm and relaxed.
  • Antipsychotic medicine may be given to decrease thoughts that people are trying to hurt you. This medicine may help prevent you from seeing or hearing things that are not there.
  • Antidepressant medicine can decrease feelings of depression. This medicine may also decrease your drug cravings and help you want to stay in a treatment program.
  • Blood pressure medicine may be given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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