Meth Addiction and Ways To Fight Back

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Even though meth has created mayhem across all segments of society in the United States, there are many viable treatment options available when meth use descends into meth addiction.

2018 NSDUH data shows that 1.1 million Americans are using meth problematically to the extent that they are neglecting their responsibilities, increasing their usage, or experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing use. Meth might be a powerful and remarkably addictive substance, but you’ll find many meth addiction treatment options available.

Before we show you how to get the best meth addiction treatment, we’ll walk you through the many ways that meth attacks the body and mind. If you or a loved one is using this potent stimulant, by the end of today you should see clearly whether or not a visit to a meth rehab clinic is advisable.

 Meth 101

Meth is the abbreviated name for crystal methamphetamine.  It’s known by many names, including crystal, ice, and crank.

Highly addictive, meth is a psychostimulant drug. Users smoke, snort, or inject the drug. Less frequently, meth is ingested.

Meth use brings about intense waves of pleasure and euphoria. These effects are short-lived, though, and users experience strong cravings to use more of the drug so they can recreate these feelings. This pattern of use quickly and easily turns into dependence followed by addiction. Some meth users report feeling addicted to meth after a single use.

Prolonged and sustained meth abuse leads to a battery of mental and physical health problems, some permanent, and others potentially lethal.

We’ll highlight the way meth impacts your brain before we look into the many ways it physically assaults you.

How Meth Affects Your Brain

Using meth causes the reward centers in your brain to become flooded with dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter. Your brain learns that meth use leads to these good feelings. This triggers a desire to continue using the drug.

As your brain chemistry starts changing, long-term meth abuse can lead to permanent brain damage.

Neurological Damage

Meth use increases your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and it also raises the risk of certain Alzheimer’s-like dementias.

Using meth over the long haul can also fray nerve terminals in your brain.

Over time, using meth continually causes permanent changes to your brain’s white matter.

Psychological Impact of Meth

Sustained meth abuse can bring about a range of mental health disorders. Mental and psychological issues brought to the fore by this drug can linger even after you no longer use the drug. 

These include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis


Data shows that depression is a symptom of meth abuse.

Meth causes enormous spikes of dopamine in the brain. Over time, the natural supply of dopamine is depleted, and users start experiencing less joy from life in the absence of meth. This can, and often does, lead to depression.

When used long-term, meth causes permanent changes to the brain chemistry, frequently triggering major depressive disorders.

Depression is an extremely debilitating mental health disorder that can lead to a number of different problems including feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, self-harm, and suicidal ideation in some cases. Luckily, there are depression treatment centers to help with certain problems and struggles that people may be dealing with.

Depression is also a symptom of meth withdrawal.


Meth abusers commonly experience anxiety. Once the high of the drug wears off and the fear of withdrawal sets in, anxiety follows.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders that people who are struggling substance abuse. Oftentimes, this problem can be cyclical as many people who experience anxiety will use drugs to escape their anxiousness, leading to them becoming dependent upon the substance in order to feel that same numbness. 

That said, there are anxiety treatment programs in place to help those who are dealing with these issues.


Psychosis might sound extreme, but it’s the most commonly reported psychological backlash from meth use. 

Meth psychosis is not dissimilar to schizophrenia in that those undergoing it may experience hallucinations partnered by delusions and paranoia.

Regrettably, meth-induced psychosis can last for years.

How Meth Affects Your Body

Meth not only damages the brain, but can also cause both external and internal damage to your body. Some of this can be overcome by discontinuing use. Sadly, some physical damage caused by meth abuse is irreversible.

How Does Meth Affect You Short-Term?

Here are some of the most common short-term effects of meth abuse.

  • Hyperexcitability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Increased body temperature
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • Extreme irritability
  • Sustained periods without sleep
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Violent behavior

How Does Meth Affect You Long-Term?

If you use meth long-term, it can lead to serious and adverse physical outcomes, including;

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Serious dental problems (meth mouth)
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Impaired brain function
  • Easily distracted
  • Memory loss
  • Skin sores and scars
  • Violent or erratic behavior
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis

Even though some of this damage is permanent, research indicates that some meth-induced damage can be reversed.

Meth Statistics

The 2017 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) shows that 1.6 million adults in the US reported using meth in the previous year. This equates to 0.6% of the population. 

Of these meth users, 774,000 used the drug during the previous month.

According to this data, new meth users have an average age of 23.

In this same year, it was estimated that 964,000 people has meth use disorder. This translates to 0.4% of the population, so it’s not a minor issue. This was a sharp increase from the 684,000 reporting meth use disorder the previous year.

The rate of deaths by meth overdose increased by a factor of five between 2012 and 2018.

On a nationwide basis, overdoses from drugs including meth increased by over seven times from 2007 to 2017.

15% of all drug overdoses in 2017 involved drugs in the meth category. Of those deaths, 50% also involved an opioid.

Types of Treatment for Meth Addiction

While medication-assisted treatment can be effectively deployed for treating many substance use disorders, meth is not one of them. There are currently no FDA-approved drugs that prolong abstinence or inhibit further meth usage.

Instead, behavioral therapies are the most effective treatments for meth addiction, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management.

The matrix model can also be usefully applied. This is a comprehensive treatment over a four-month period. Treatment includes:

  • Individual counseling
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Family counseling
  • 12-step programs
  • Drug testing
  • Incentivized health behaviors

Contingency management can also effectively promote abstinence from meth.

Meth Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery Center

If you need meth rehab, we’ve got you covered here at Renaissance Recovery. We’ll start by personalizing a treatment plan so you can confidently move forward through the first step of detox and withdrawal. 

You’ll then benefit from a variety of tailored behavioral therapies along with all the ongoing support you need to stay strong and stay sober.

If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, don’t delay getting treatment. Call our friendly admissions team today at 866.330.9449 and we’ll get things started.

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“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country