Meth Addiction: Side Effects, Statistics, and Treatment

Methamphetamines are a highly addictive stimulant that can be smoked, injected, inhaled, or taken orally. The drug has many street names such as speed, meth, and chalk. The crystal form of meth which is consumed by smoking is commonly referred to as ice, crystal, or glass.

Compared with other stimulants, meth is more harmful and its effects are longer lasting. This is due to the large amounts of the drug that is ingested during consumption. Meth users can feel the effects of the drug almost immediately and the high can often last for 6 to 8 hours. Due to the dramatic high experienced by the user, it is possible to become dependent after just one use.

Many people use meth for its positive effects including increased focus/attention, decreased fatigue, and reduced appetite. However, the drug’s negative effects vastly outweigh any perceived positives.

Long term methamphetamine use can lead to:

  • Psychosis, namely paranoia and hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Severe dental problems
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased motor skills

The high associated with meth and other stimulants is caused by an elevated release of dopamine in the brain. The process releases approximately 1200% more dopamine than food, sexual intercourse, and other pleasurable activities. This increase in dopamine is thought to contribute to the drug’s harmful effects on the brain. As meth begins to change the central nervous system and the brain, a user’s body has to adjust to the changes which causes them to become more dependent upon the drug.

There are numerous warning signs of meth addiction than can be spotted by friends and family. Those addicted to meth often obsessively pick at their skin leaving marks that look similar to extreme cases of acne where open sores are visible on the face. Addicts will also often complain of formication or the sensation that something is crawling underneath their skin. Other physical signs include tooth loss, tooth decay, and hair loss/breakage.


  • Between 2012 and 2015, the number of people who reported using meth in the past year rose from 1.2 million to 1.7 million in the United States.
  • Approximately 13% of emergency room visits involving an illicit substance were due to methamphetamine usage.
  • A study conducted in 2013 revealed that almost 12.3 million people in the United States had used meth at some point during their lifetime.
  • At it’s peak in 2005, methamphetamines were responsible for almost 4,500 deaths in the U.S.
    Men are twice as likely to use meth than women according to a 2015 study by the NSDUH.


Inpatient rehabilitation centers, like Recovery Coast, give those struggling with meth addiction the highest chance of recovery. The withdrawal experienced during detox is intense and should always be monitored by medical professionals. During detox we will help manage withdrawal and cravings, which are at their worst throughout the process. Our 30 years of experience ensures that you or your loved one will be as safe and comfortable as possible.