Meth Prevention

Meth prevention must start early. Amphetamine addiction can happen the first time meth is used. Once addicted to meth, quitting is difficult, addiction recovery includes severe withdrawal symptoms treated by medical detox or residential treatment. 


Meth can have serious physical, mental, and social consequences for its users, so it’s important to try to help prevent meth use in the people you care. Though parents and other loved ones cannot control the choices another person makes, there are some meth prevention strategies that may help a person decide to avoid meth and other drugs.

Meth prevention should start early, if possible. Most people who use meth start when they are teens or young adults. This is a time when young people face many new challenges, including drug availability. They also begin to be more strongly influenced by their peers at this age. Parents should talk to children and teens about the dangers of using meth before they think it’s a problem. Though teens may not seem to listen to their parents, parents do still have an impact on the choices their children make, even through the teen years and the best meth prevention is teaching loved ones about it before they start.  

People should also be aware of any signs that their loved ones may be using or thinking about using meth or other drugs. Some of the signs of meth use include:

  • Drastic changes in appearance, including rapid weight loss and poor hygiene
  • Changes in the friends they hang out with
  • Loss of interest, or sudden drops in performance, in other activities, including sports, school, or work
  • Having drug paraphernalia or pro-drug items like music, movies, or clothing that glorifies drug use
  • Major changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Acting overly energetic, shaky, or nervous
  • Having unusual physical symptoms like dilated pupils or sweating excessively without exercising

Parents or loved ones should plan ahead and do some research when they want to talk to someone about meth and meth prevention. Then, they should choose a time to talk to the person when both of them are calm. The earlier you talk to someone who is at risk for using meth the better your chance of preventing meth use.

Talking to young people about not using meth is one of the most important meth prevention tactics, but there are other ways to reduce the chances that a person will use meth. Meth prevention usually involves resolving or overcoming risk factors with protective factors. Risk factors are those things that increase the chances that a person will use meth, while protective factors make it less likely that a person will use meth. Though having risk factors does not mean that a person will use drugs, and protective factors do not always prevent drug use, being aware of risk factors and enhancing protective factors can reduce the chances that a person will use meth.

Some risk factors for meth use include:

  • Early history of neglect, abuse, or poor parenting
  • Drug abuse by another member of the family or a caregiver
  • Living in poverty
  • Easily availability of drugs
  • Lack of self control
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Lack of supervision
  • Friends who use drugs
  • Low self esteem
  • Emotional or mental health problems
  • Stress in family, including violence, conflict, death, or divorce
  • Rules or punishments that are too strict, too lax, or inconsistent
  • Unrealistic expectations

Some protective factors that may help in meth prevention include:

  • Learning self-control and goal setting
  • Having parents who are involved and ask lots of questions about what they are doing, where they are going, and whom they are with
  • Doing well in school, or getting help if they are struggling in school
  • Having family rules against drug use
  • Having clear rules with fair, consistent consequences
  • Feeling attached to family, school, and/or community
  • Being taught about the dangers of drug abuse and that not everyone does it
  • Having parents who praise accomplishments and good behaviors and accept them for who they are
  • Doing family activities to encourage family bonding, like eating one meal together every day, or finding time for activities the whole family can enjoy, like going for a walk, watching a good movie, or playing a game
  • Learning to recognize peer pressure and say no
  • Getting counseling or medical help for underlying medical or mental health problems
  • Having caring adults who emphasize the importance of a good education
  • Having parents who encourage positive goals and activities, including music, drama, art, sports, and volunteering

Parents who are concerned about drug use in their schools, neighborhood, or community should talk to school administrators or community leaders about the problem and what is being done about it. Parents, schools, and communities should work together to reduce or prevent the use of meth among all members of the community. Parents who are concerned about their children or don't know how to talk to them about drugs can look for community programs that educate parents or offer family counseling.

If a person has already used meth and is trying not to use it again, they may need to change their routines, activities, and friends to form new, healthier habits. They may also need ongoing counseling and involvement in support groups to help them avoid relapsing into drug use. Any meth prevention strategies available should be used.


National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents" [online]
Parents. The Anti-Drug. "Meth (Mathemphetamine)" [online], "Prevention" [online]
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, MethNet, "Strategies for Fighting Meth: Additional Information on Risk and Protective Factors" [online]

Related Article: Amphetamine Addiction >>