Finding Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug.1 This stimulant is very addictive.2-7  Meth can be prescribed as the brand name medicine Desoxyn for certain conditions.5,6

Meth might be referred to by names including “speed”, “chalk”, or “tina”.3,8 Crystal meth may be referred to using terms such as “crystal”, “shards”, “glass”, “ice”, “crank”, “go fast”, or “fire”.4,8

Crystal methamphetamine might look similar to “rocks” that are blue-white and shiny or similar to little glass pieces.2,3,4 A person could inject or smoke crystal meth.4

It was estimated that in 2018 around a million people 12 years old and older in the U.S. used methamphetamine in the prior month.9

Possible Consequences of Meth Use

Methamphetamine is capable of causing large quantities of dopamine to be released quickly in brain regions that are involved with reward; this can cause a person who uses meth to want to do it again.3,10

In the short-term, some ways that meth might impact a person include:3,10,11

  • Nausea
  • Appetite reduction
  • Lessening of fatigue
  • Disruption of patterns of sleep
  • Increase in breathing
  • Blood pressure elevation
  • Instigation of behavior that is odd, violent, hostile, erratic, and/or irritable
  • Raising of temperature
  • Heartbeat that is not regular
  • Fast heart rateneurons in the brain reacting to methamphetamine use

Meth is able to impact an individual’s judgment and decrease an individual’s inhibitions; methamphetamine could lead an individual to act in a way that is hazardous, such as sexual actions that are risky.3,12-15 Additionally, methamphetamine might raise a person’s libido.12,13,15 Therefore, meth can make a person’s risk of catching or passing on hepatitis and HIV/AIDS higher even if that person does not inject it.3,4,8,12-16

Overdosing on meth might cause:3,5,6,10

  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Convulsions.
  • Issues with organs.
  • Unsafely high temperature.
  • Death.

Issues that might result from using meth long-term include:3,11

  • Itching significantly, and scratching could result in skin sores
  • Addiction
  • Anxiousness
  • Significant decrease in weight
  • Serious dental issues, sometimes referred to as “meth mouth”
  • Blood pressure that is high, which could result in stroke, heart attack, and death
  • Worsened coordination
  • Harm to brain, kidney, heart, lung, and/or liver
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory issues
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Acting violently

Withdrawal, or a “crash”, may occur if an individual stops using meth; this individual may experience depression, anxiousness, psychosis, anger, cravings, and/or tiredness.3,8,17,18 While going through withdrawal from a stimulant, a person might even become suicidal.18,19

Meth Addiction

A stimulant use disorder in which methamphetamine is the drug used is a methamphetamine use disorder.18

For a stimulant use disorder, there are several possible symptoms, including:18

  • Craving stimulant
  • Frequently using more stimulant or using stimulant for more time than intended
  • Expending a large amount of time doing things that are needed for using or getting stimulant or for recuperating from stimulant’s effects
  • In circumstances where using stimulant is dangerous physically, using it repeatedly
  • Attempting to control or decrease use of stimulant but not succeeding, or persistently wanting to control or reduce use of it
  • Even though stimulant’s effects brought on or worsened interpersonal or social issues that are lasting or occurring repeatedly, still using stimulant
  • Even though knowing stimulant probably brought on or worsened a mental or physical issue that is lasting or occurring repeatedly, still using stimulant
  • Experiencing stimulant withdrawal* (and/or to alleviate or evade symptoms of withdrawal, using stimulant or using another substance that is similar)
  • Experiencing tolerance* (keeping using a consistent stimulant amount has significantly less impact, and/or getting the effect wanted or getting intoxicated requires significantly more stimulant)
  • Not fulfilling important duties at home, school, or work due to repeated use of stimulant
  • Due to use of stimulant, decreasing doing or no longer doing things that are important and are related to recreation, are social, or are related to work

*If an individual only is using stimulant medicines under medical oversight that is suitable, neither withdrawal nor tolerance are considered symptoms of a stimulant use disorder.18

Treatment Options


Consult a healthcare provider if you may have an addiction.20

Settings where a person may participate in addiction treatment include inpatient, residential, and/or outpatient.21

It is important that a person’s addiction treatment fits that person’s needs and is suitable for that person.21 When looking for treatment, look for a provider or program that can meet your needs.

When looking for treatment for an addiction, check at the option(s) you are considering if the treatments that are utilized are backed by evidence.22 Behavioral therapies are currently the most efficacious ways to treat addiction to meth.23 Motivational incentives and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are two types of behavioral therapies that could be utilized to treat an individual’s addiction to meth.3,23

Additionally, when looking for addiction treatment, check at the option(s) you are considering if treatment is adjusted for any changes in the needs of the individual and if the treatment has an adequate duration.22



  1. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug scheduling.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019). Methamphetamine.
  4. National Drug Intelligence Center. Crystal methamphetamine fast facts: Questions and answers.
  5. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Methamphetamine.
  6. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Department of Justice. (2017) Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide: 2017 edition.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine: Overview.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine (meth).
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed tables.
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine: What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine misuse?.
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Know the risks of meth.
  12. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2014). The DAWN report: Emergency department visits involving methamphetamine: 2007 to 2011.
  13. Saw, Y. M., Saw, T. N., Chan, N., Cho, S. M., & Jimba, M. (2018). Gender-specific differences in high-risk sexual behaviors among methamphetamine users in Myanmar-China border city, Muse, Myanmar: who is at risk?BMC Public Health, 18(1), 209.
  14. Salamanca, S. A., Sorrentino, E. E., Nosanchuk, J. D., & Martinez, L. R. (2014). Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunityFrontiers in Neuroscience, 8, 445.
  15. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine: Are people who misuse methamphetamine at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C?.
  16. Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). HIV and substance use in the United States.
  17. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Tips for teens: Methamphetamine.
  18. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th). Arlington, VA: Author.
  19. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment: A treatment improvement protocol: TIP 45.
  20. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Step by step guides to finding treatment for drug use disorders.
  21. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition).
  22. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Seeking drug abuse treatment: Know what to ask: Introduction.
  23. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine: What treatments are effective for people who misuse methamphetamine?.
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