How to Tell if Someone Is High on Meth

high on meth

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 2.5 million people in the United States have used methamphetamine (meth) in the past 12 months. That’s around 0.9% of the total U.S. population. 

Do you think that someone you know might be using meth? If so, it’s important to know the signs to look out for. 

Meth is a synthetic stimulant that’s highly addictive. Abusing this substance can lead to a range of health issues and even death.  

Today, we’re sharing how to tell if someone is high on meth, and the next steps you can take to encourage them to get the help they need. 

What Is Meth?

Before we dive into some of the telltale signs of meth addiction, let’s briefly discuss what it entails and why it’s so dangerous. 

Meth is an addictive stimulant that affects a user’s central nervous system (CNS). The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies it as a Schedule II substance.

Structurally, it’s a white, odorless crystalline powder that dissolves in water or alcohol. The powder can be taken in many different ways, including:

  • Smoking
  • Snorting
  • Injecting
  • Orally ingesting

Developed in the early 20th century, meth originated from its parent drug, amphetamine. It was first used medicinally, as an ingredient in products such as nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.

While pharmaceutical methamphetamine is still in production today, street supplies of meth are illegally manufactured. These forms are usually powdered and look like reflective glass fragments. They can also take the shape of white-colored crystalline rocks, known as crystal meth.

Both meth and amphetamine can have similar effects. Some of the most commonly reported ones include:

  • Increased activity
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Sense of well-being and euphoria
  • Decreased appetite



The main difference between these two substances is that when taken at similar doses, much more meth travels into the user’s brain. This alone makes it a more powerful and potent stimulant. Moreover, meth also has a more severe and longer-lasting effect on the user’s CNS.

Short-Term and Long-Term Health Effects

Besides the euphoric high it delivers, meth is also associated with other health effects. These effects can be both short-term and long-term in nature. 

Short-Term Effects

As their name implies, short-term effects come on quickly, soon after taking meth. They also tend to dissipate after meth use discontinues. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased physical movement
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Elevated blood pressure

In addition to physical effects, meth can also have an impact on an individual’s immediate mental health. For instance, while it can cause an initial bout of euphoria, it also tends to elevate feelings of depression or anxiety, especially if taken in high dosages. 

Long-Term Effects

When someone enters into a meth addiction, their symptoms shift from short-term to long-term. Chronic use of this substance can lead to severe health problems that affect the person’s health and well-being. 

These effects can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Violent behavior
  • Cognitive challenges (e.g. confusion, memory loss)
  • Issues with coordination
  • Paranoia
  • Severe anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Significant weight loss
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Severe respiratory problems (e.g. hypertension, cardiomyopathy)
  • Dental problems (e.g. tooth decay, gum disease)

In addition, individuals who inject meth also have a higher risk of contracting specific bloodborne illnesses, including:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV 

While all of these symptoms are extremely concerning, they do not occur overnight. Long-term symptoms are often the result of chronic meth use. Early intervention can help prevent them from occurring, but only if loved ones know what to look for. 

Understanding Meth Addiction

Due to its highly addictive nature, meth has a very high potential for misuse, as well as significant physical and psychological dependence.

Why is this the case? It has to do with the way meth interacts with a person’s brain.

When someone uses meth, it catalyzes the activity of multiple neurotransmitters. One of those transmitters is dopamine, a chemical linked to motivation and found in the “reward center” of the brain.

Meth quickly releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain, triggering a sense of reward and pleasure. These sensations reinforce the drug-taking behavior as individuals seek to experience them again. 

Another reason behind meth addiction is the brief surge of euphoric feelings that occur when someone smokes or injects the drug. Though this wave of happiness is brief and fades before the substance has a chance to reach the bloodstream, it can be incredibly powerful. 


To maintain the feeling, individuals will take even more of the drug to avoid the inevitable “crash” that will occur soon after the euphoria fades. In extreme cases known as “runs”, they will skip everything, including eating and drinking, and go on a binge that lasts for multiple consecutive days. 

How to Tell If Someone Is High on Meth

Do you think that someone you know or love might be addicted to meth? Understanding the early signs of meth addiction is critical. In many cases, quick action can help prevent the devastating effects of a meth overdose

Before we get into the meth symptoms to look for, it’s important to make a quick disclaimer. Some of these symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability, and scratching, are not always indicative of an addiction or substance abuse disorder. They can be signs of other health conditions. 

This is why it’s important to consider both physical and behavioral symptoms. It also helps to understand the differences between meth use and meth addiction. While the substance is addictive, not everyone who uses meth will become addicted to it.

Thus, we can break these symptoms into two categories: signs of meth use and signs of meth addiction. In both cases, the individuals in question require support and treatment to help them eliminate the harmful behavior. 

Signs of Meth Abuse

The signs that someone is abusing meth include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Mood swings or outbursts
  • Burns (especially on the fingers and lips)
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Twitching
  • Jerky, quick movements
  • Facial tics
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rotting teeth
  • Weight loss
  • Skin sores

As you can see, the effects of meth abuse can be both behavioral and physical. Some of the symptoms, such as skin sores and dental problems, are easy to spot while others, such as agitation and dilated pupils, can go undetected. 

Signs of Meth Addiction

A meth addiction, or a methamphetamine use disorder, can develop from meth abuse. This condition is characterized by an individual’s compulsive use of meth that continues despite the consequences that the substance has on their life. 

Some of the most common signs of meth addiction include:

  • Repeated or failed attempts to stop or cut back on meth use
  • Continuing to use meth even despite the strain it puts on relationships
  • Experiencing frequent, strong cravings for meth
  • Missing obligations at work, school, or home due to meth use
  • Continuing to use meth despite experiencing negative health effects
  • Developing a tolerance for meth that promotes a higher dose or more frequent use to achieve the same effect

Signs of Meth Withdrawal

When someone addicted to meth stops taking the substance altogether or drastically reduces their intake, the withdrawal symptoms can be immense. 

The specific withdrawal response will look different for each person. The types of symptoms that someone experiences will depend on a range of different factors, including:

  • The dose of meth they normally take
  • The purity of the drug
  • Their level of intoxication
  • Their route of drug administration
  • Their previous experiences with meth withdrawal
  • The duration of time they used meth
  • Their history of meth use

When the symptoms take hold, they can also differ based on the situation. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Chills
  • Weight gain
  • Dehydration
  • Disorientation
  • Social withdrawal
  • Insomnia, leading to hypersomnia 
  • Dysphoria (low mood)

In some cases, symptoms of dysphoria can progress into clinical depression. Left untreated, they can even lead to suicidal thoughts. 

Prompt, professional treatment is often necessary to help someone work through the process of detoxing from meth. There are a range of different drug and alcohol treatment programs available, including:

  • Detox treatment programs
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Inpatient treatment programs
  • Rehab treatment programs
  • Partial hospital programs
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Sober living and intentional housing

A medical professional can help point your loved one toward the type of program that can be the most beneficial for their unique case. 

Find Help For Meth Abuse and Addiction

If someone you know is struggling with a meth addiction or is high on meth, you don’t have to watch as they suffer in silence. 

There are resources and programs that can help individuals with substance abuse disorders reclaim their quality of life and find freedom from addiction. 

At Detox to Rehab, we’re here to help you find the right program for your needs. You can call (866) 578-7471 or visit our meth addiction page to learn more and find local treatment centers. 

  1. Well if we are dealing with NEEDLES HIV cannot be far off. Never the less addiction is bad news even if METH is odorless or some stuff.

  2. Now I have a deeper knowledge about Meth addiction and can sure tell if someone is using it. Hyperactivity and Jerky, quick movements and the two signs I know. I never knew there are some other signs to look out for. very informative article

  3. This is a well detailed piece of article. I can say I know what meth is an I can tell if anyone is addicted to it and also how to be of help to that person.

  4. This is a well detailed piece of article. I can say I know what meth is an I can tell if anyone is addicted to it and also how to be of help to that person. I have learnt how dangerous the effect of meth abuse can be and it is bad and I can’t possibly want someone around you to be a victim.

  5. Most people on meth addiction don’t even know they are on it. They see it as a way of enjoying life which is not so. It is better to advise them so that they can realize the mistakes they have made.

  6. There’s always the tendency that one is high on something when you someone with Increased activity
    Increased talkativeness and even with decreased appetite

  7. This is an educative and informative piece I must confess. Now I know I great deal about meth abuse and how to tell if someone Round me is abusing the use of meth And how to help them as well

  8. There are so many people that are trying to cope with happenings in their lives with meth substance. Thanks to detox on this particular topic, so as to watch our loved ones closely.

  9. These are information are essentially important to identify the addicted individual. Thanks for this useful information.

  10. To tell that someone is high, it requires professionalism. The above information has actually provided this. Thanks.

  11. This is a great article. Now I can tell if someone is high on meth because of the symptoms mentioned in the article

  12. It would be quite hard for me to point out an addict of meth; to be specific. However, I would say the person is addicted to drugs in general. After reading your article, I can at some level say this guy is addicted to Meth.

  13. Thanks you for sharing this wonderful post on what meth is and the effects of taking it. Substance abuse is really bad, it can ruin someone’s life.

  14. The withdrawal symptoms can be severe when a meth user stops using the drug entirely or significantly decreases their dosage. Each person will experience withdrawal in a different way.

  15. I learnt that when one is addicted to meth, the symptoms shift from short term to long term,I didn’t know anything about this before now.

  16. Thanks for sharing the tell-tell signs of someone who is high on meth. Will definitely be on the lookout for some of them from my friends and family.

  17. Meth continues to be a huge menace to society. Being able to identify a person who abuses meth can help a lot especially if detected early.

  18. The article goes into great detail about how one can discern the signs of someone using meth. This will be helpful in a myriad of ways.

  19. I think the federal government ought to put in place stringent and effective measures to curb the widespread use of meth. A lot of young lives could potentially be saved.

  20. Meth truly is a very dangerous substance and is best steered clear of. The ease of addictiveness and the chronic negative impacts makes it a deadly drug.

  21. It’s sad that thousands of people die every year from meth overdose. Recognizing the signs early and taking action can save a life.

  22. It’s easy to confuse meth highness with other kinds of highness since the signs overlap. Thanks for making the difference clear in the article.

  23. Looks like injecting meth is even more dangerous due to the bloodborne diseases one may be prone to. This is especially true if the syringe used is a shared one.

  24. For the myriad of serious long term effects that meth has, the short stint of high it gives is totally not worth it. Thanks for this informative piece.

  25. It was interesting to learn about how meth causes addiction by altering our dopamine levels. I feel better informed on the effects of meth after reading this.

  26. You’re doing a great job by constantly creating awareness on the harmful effects of drugs like meth. At least this way people can be aware of the dangers before trying the drugs.

  27. Many thanks for the informative article on meth and its effects. I wish more people were aware of these effects before choosing to use meth.

  28. These are well detailed article on identifying any loved one or member of the society that is abusing meth. Thanks always detox.

  29. Really being aware of an addiction situation, especially with a really close friend or a loved one, will help save his or her life. This article really drives that point home.

  30. Meth addiction can be devastating as one can have so many failed attempts to stop its use or even continue on ieven with high strain it puts on relationships

  31. Thank you for writing such a detailed article on how to identify someone who is using meth. I didn’t know using meth can have such long term effects on the person using it. It’s such a helpful article.

  32. I’m glad I bumped into this article. At least now I know all the nuances to look for when trying to tell, if someone is high on meth.

  33. I know what meth can do to a peson’s health. If you have a loved one with a meth problem, it’s always wise to identify the signs early.

  34. Recognizing the signs of meth abuse goes a long way in assessing the level of the meth addiction. However, the best way is abstinence.

  35. Meth addiction is a terrible experience that must be avoided to avoid regrets. Indeed, it is better to put in place an aggressive campaign against meth addiction.

  36. I have never been around any person who use to take drugs but after reading can understand who is high in meth or have gone addicted to it.

  37. Thank you for the informative article! Just reading the side effects are something else. Meth addiction is pretty scary and I hope people that are battling this survive and give there all.

  38. I have never come in contact with meth before, but from this article I now know what meth is and looks like.

  39. I believe the prevention of meth addiction is made easy with identifying the symptoms.
    Am always enlightened with every article here.

  40. Meth does look like a very dangerous substance, and should be avoided altogether. I pray anyone addicted to this have the strength to withdraw from it.

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