Signs of Meth Use

Parents and others should be aware of the signs of meth use so they can get help for a person who is abusing methamphetamine. Methamphetamine, or meth, abuse is a dangerous habit that can lead to addiction, mental damage, and death. 


Meth can come in many forms and be taken many different ways, including smoking, snorting, swallowing, and injecting. It is usually white or off-white and may be in pills, powders, chunks, or other forms. Parents who find meth or the tools for using it, such as needles, surgical tubing, razors blades for cutting the drug, mirrors, straws for snorting meth, or glass or metal pipes for smoking it should talk to their teens about their concerns and seek help.

Other than actually finding the drug, parents and others should watch for less obvious signs that a person is using meth. Though some warning signs of meth use can be similar to normal changes during the teen years, others are easier to spot.

Meth can stay in the body for a number of hours after it is taken. While a person is high on meth, others may notice some signs of meth use such as:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Breathing problems or very fast breathing for no reason
  • Dizziness
  • Grinding teeth
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • High temperature
  • Sweating
  • Lots of energy and increased activity
  • Talking excessively
  • Seeming very alert
  • Looking flushed even when not doing anything
  • Experiencing a high or a sense of extreme happiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Fidgeting
  • Not feeling tired and not being able to sleep
  • Shaking or jerkiness

Though these symptoms may wear off once the drug is out of the person’s symptoms, meth use has other effects that last once the high wears off:

  • Periods of increased alertness and energy interspaced with extreme fatigue and depression
  • Insomnia
  • Picking or scratching at skin or clothes
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Confusion and loss of mental function
  • Lack of interest in food and dramatic weight loss
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends or sudden change in friends
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Getting in trouble at school or with the police
  • Burns on lips or fingers from smoking meth through a glass pipe
  • Nosebleeds from snorting meth
  • Track marks on the arm, or attempts to cover them, due to injecting meth
  • Loss of interest in personal hygiene, like not showering or brushing hair
  • Lying or being secretive, beyond the normal teen desire for privacy
  • Stealing money or valuables to sell for drug money
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia, like razors blades, straws, and mirrors, or needles and surgical tubing
  • Violent moods or behaviors
  • Psychotic behavior
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

Teens who abuse meth may also use methamphetamin street names for the drug, including:

  • Speed
  • Crank
  • Zip
  • Cristy
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Quartz

Teens who are using meth may need professional help to overcome a drug addiction and to avoid using it in the future. Watch for any signs of meth use and seek help immediately.


The Partnership for a Drug Free America, "Warning Signs: Is Your Child Using Meth?" [online]

KCI: The Anti-Meth Site, "FAQ about Methamphetamine" [online]

Related Article: Amphetamine Addiction >>