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What Does a Meth Addict Look Like?

You might be in denial about someone close to you. If you even slightly suspect a drug problem, you are picking up some sort of change. But, you might be hiding from the reality or exaggerating the degree of the change. You don’t want to approach someone about a drug problem with either of these mind-sets.

One thing that might be fueling your denial is the general stereotype of a drug user. A meth user, specifically, is supposed to be poor and uneducated. Their teeth should be missing or ground down. Their skin should be pock marked and sallow. Essentially, you are thinking of the Faces of Meth project. That isn’t how all meth users look.

If you don’t know what to look for, it can be hard to make a determination about whether or not you should have a conversation about meth addiction with someone you love, but the following information should help you make a more educated judgment.

If you believe that your loved one is dependent upon or addicted to meth, they need structured, professional treatment. SubstanceAbuse.org can help them get that treatment. By calling 800-487-1890 (Who Answers?) , you will have questions answered, resources provided, and treatment centers recommended.


Meth Addict

Meth raises your heart rate and makes you more alert.

Learning more about meth can help you know what to look for.

There is a category of drugs called “stimulants.” All of them share certain traits:

  • They raise your heart rate.
  • They raise your blood pressure.
  • They boost mood
  • They increase feelings of happiness.
  • They make you more alert.

Drugs like cocaine, speed, and meth are considered stimulants.

One certain way to determine if your loved one is using meth is to keep an eye out for actual drugs in their possession. But, this can be complicated because meth takes a few different forms. It is usually a white, pale yellow, or light pink powder with a bitter taste. However, it may also come in pill form. And crystal meth takes the form of shiny white or clear rocks.

These different forms mean different methods of use. It can be:

  • Orally ingested
  • Inhaled (snorted)

Look for both drugs and paraphernalia, like needles and glass pipes.


The term “meth epidemic” probably makes you think that everyone is out there using all the meth that they can. It actually isn’t as common as you think.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) nearly 1.2 million people reported using meth in 2012. And, only 440,000 had used it in the previous month. Even though the numbers aren’t as big as some people expect, that is still a large number of users and your loved one could be one of them.

How Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment Saves Lives

What to Look For

Meth has a very brief high, users “binge and crash”: they keep the high by using again before the previous amount has left their system. There is a type of binge called a “run”: taking meth for days. When the user runs out, they crash. If your loved one spends days at a time avoiding sleep and food, they might be binging on meth or another stimulant.

You know to look for drugs, paraphernalia, and days spent awake. What else is of concern?

You should also be looking for the short-term effects because these will only be present when your loved one is high. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), identified the following effects.

  • Boosted focus
  • Boosted activity
  • Observable euphoria/rush
  • Boosted respiration
  • Speedy/uneven heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature


If this information has made you more certain that your loved one has a problem, you need to have a frank and open conversation with them and urge them to seek treatment. Learning more about rehab options may help you with that conversation.

Firstly, there are no medications designed for meth or stimulant addiction treatment, although more general drugs may be used to ease withdrawal symptoms during detox.

In place of drugs, treatment will use behavioral therapy. NIDA suggests the Matrix Model as a solution. This treatment “combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-Step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug-related activities.” It is a proven success in treating meth addiction.

Meth use is no joke and you should be looking into treatment options. We can help. Call 800-487-1890 (Who Answers?) and learn more about how to spot a meth addiction and how to get help for the addict in your life.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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