How to Spot a Meth User

Spotting a meth user is actually not a difficult thing to do. In fact, it might be easier to spot a meth user than people who use other types of drugs. It definitely depends on the level of use and how long the person has been using though. A meth addiction is usually an obvious thing, while someone who just started to use recreationally might not stand out as flagrantly. There are various things to look at when determining whether or not somebody is using meth. It’s important to spot because using meth, especially, usually leads to addiction. The addiction rate is high and while some people might claim that their use of it is strictly recreational, it’s only a matter of time before they delve into an addiction they can’t get themselves out of. Even during the early stages of addiction they might not be self aware in the situation which will only push them deeper into the hole. It’s a slippery slope when using a drug like meth, taking into consideration the large extent to which it does generally hook its users. Spotting meth use is key though, no matter if its recreational use or addiction. Being able to determine that there is a problem is important and it’s never too late to do so. However, keep in mind that the earlier you do it, the better and easier it is for the person to come out of.

If you do in fact recognize an addiction or use of meth in someone you are close to and care about, or just feel the need to help, then know that it isn’t the end of the world either. It’s never too late for this person to turn their life around. Deep down inside the person will know that they need to change something, that they aren’t headed in the right direction. If you are organizing an intervention don’t be nervous or shaky when presenting with them the fact that you’re here to help them. Make sure they know that not only can they trust you, but that you’re willing to be supportive and help them find a solution to the drug problem their struggling with. Treating the person and situation with compassion and understanding, while at the same time urging them and motivating them to get help is key. You don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do, but you want to help steer them in the direction of getting help at the same time. In other words being compassionate doesn’t mean to not be assertive as well. You can easily achieve empathy while still gaining some sort of agreement and responsibility on their part as long as good communication is kept in the conversation.

Meth And Its Rising Popularity

Unfortunately meth has become rather popular. Due to the fact that it’s pretty cheap and easy to get your hands on, it has become a sort of cocaine replacement when somebody can no longer afford cocaine and they want a stimulant type of effect. Not only that, but apparently it’s pretty easy to concoct as well. Though it’s a highly dangerous activity, tons of people make meth in their kitchens because they’re either desperate for the drug or to sell drugs or both. It used to be that meth was only popular amongst the poor or in rural areas, but that has changed a lot over time. Now it’s more generally acceptable and used with a variety of types of people and groups.

Why Is Meth So Addictive?

There are quite a few aspects to meth addiction. A big part of the addictive property is found in the process that occurs with the brain when meth is ingested. You see, the dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain is heavily released when using meth, to an unnatural extent and of course for unnatural reasons. The extent of dopamine release in particular is around twelve times more than that of other pleasurable activities such as eating food. In other words, meth use releases twelve times more dopamine than is normal and natural. This is what is behind the high the person experiences. Naturally this will create a problem once the high wears off though. The brain, therefore, is affected and sometimes this is permanent. Because after the high wears off, the dopamine level isn’t sufficient anymore. It’s depleted, generally, because a lot of it had previously just been released when it wasn’t supposed to. This creates an imbalance in the person. They are rendered with negative effects, a “low”, and sometimes this low can become permanent or semi-permanent. The brain will only get in worse shape in this regard when using the drug over time.

Signs of Abusing Meth

There are specific signs that come along with abusing meth. These are some things to notice and look out for when faced with someone whom you suspect. These signs include:

  • Obsessive type of behavior (the user might get OCD, or repeat the same task over and over again.)
  • Very talkative and babbling
  • Rapid, darting eyes with dilated pupils
  • Often sweaty
  • Tooth decay, A.K.A. “meth mouth”
  • Skin lesions and sores that don’t go away in an appropriate amount of time
  • Weight loss
  • Absence from work or obligations/daily routines
  • Depression
  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Social isolation
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Lack of appetite
  • Acting impulsively
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • The user getting the sensation that bugs are crawling underneath their skin
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Loosening skin/bad skin
  • Insomnia (sometimes over long stretches)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Hair loss

Some terms to look out for, which are just various street names for meth, are “crystal meth”, “crystal”, “tweak”, “ice”, “shards”, “crissy” and “jib”. Using meth can make somebody experience inordinate depression, so severe that they might not be able to experience pleasure at all. The user might end up experiencing mental confusion and an extremely lowered and dulled cognitive ability. Paranoia and psychosis go hand in hand and are definitely other additional signs of abusing meth as well. Some additional effects worth going into include:

  • Homelessness
  • Malnutrition
  • Ruined financially
  • Child abuse
  • Messed up memory or loss thereof
  • Brain damage
  • Full-blown psychosis
  • Changes in behavior
  • Withdrawn
  • Domestic abuse
  • Decline in motor skills
  • Changes in the brain
  • Impotence
  • Infectious diseases
  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Another aspect to all of this that is worth mentioning is the fact that the meth user may become violent and aggressive. This is often during the tweaking period where they’ve gone a long time without getting sleep. Sometimes this is due to hallucination, sometimes it is just due to a power trip that the drug can incite. When the user withdraws from meth, there are other signs to look out for as well. These signs include teeth grinding, cravings, night sweats, increased sleeping, low energy levels, emotionally damaged/depressed, suicidal thoughts and feelings, weight gain and anxiety.

When dealing with someone who has some or all of the above signs it’s important to keep in mind that they may be in a fragile state mentally due to their drug use. Meth is a heavy drug which can make them quite hostile sometimes. Communicate what you need to and what is necessary but do so gently.

By Joyce