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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.


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.


  • Medicines may be given to help you stay calm, reduce depression, or decrease false thoughts.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

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.

Dangers of cooking meth:

Meth is cooked from chemicals and materials that can cause a fire or explosion. These substances can cause severe burns.

Do not use meth with other drugs:

Meth is more harmful when you combine it with alcohol or other drugs, such as cannabis or cocaine. This can be life-threatening.

Prevent the spread of disease:

Your risk for HIV, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is increased. You may have sex more often with different people. You may be less likely to practice safe sex, such as using a condom. People who inject meth often share used or dirty needles.

How meth affects unborn or newborn babies and children:

  • If you are pregnant and use meth, your baby may not grow in your womb as he should. He may be born too early or die before birth. Your baby may have problems with his heart, brain, or body development. Do not breastfeed your baby if you use meth. You will give meth to your baby through your breast milk. Ask healthcare providers for more information about treatment programs and drug use while breastfeeding.
  • Your child may not grow as he should. He also may have trouble learning or managing anger.

Meth withdrawal:

Withdrawal occurs when you decrease or stop using a drug you are addicted to. Meth users may have trouble coping with the symptoms of withdrawal and may start using meth again. 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

Meth abuse treatment:

  • 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.

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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 (Discharge Care)

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