Meth addiction: Understanding the grip of the dangerous drug

In today’s deep dive, we’re going beyond the usual talks on meth addiction symptoms. We’ll uncover how methamphetamine affects the mind, body, and society in profound ways. Our goal is to go deeper than standard resources, dissecting the intricate consequences of this harmful drug. We’ll also explore why meth remains prevalent worldwide, despite its well-known destructive effects on individuals and communities.


The horrors of meth addiction

To get a clearer idea of exactly the horrors that meth addiction can bring, we’ve decided to break down how it affects an individual into three separate sections; psychological effects, physical effects and social effects:

The psychological effects of a meth addiction

Mental health implications
Long-term use of meth isn’t just tough on the body; it takes a toll on the mind as well. Imagine a web of challenges, and at the centre are issues like anxiety, depression, paranoia, and hallucinations. These aren’t just fleeting feelings; they persist, casting a shadow over the user’s overall well-being. It’s like a storm that refuses to pass, making it a daily struggle for those caught in its grip.
Cognitive impairment
Now, here’s where it gets even more concerning. Chronic meth use doesn’t just mess with your emotions; it messes with your mind. Memory, attention, decision-making – these cognitive functions take a hit. What’s even scarier is that these deficits can stick around even after someone decides to quit using the substance.

Shockingly, people struggling with meth addiction will also display signs of ‘punding’. Punding is when a person enthusiastically engages in an activity that will yield no benefit. For example, according to a patient study, individuals on meth were observed taking apart a clock and then reassembling it for no apparent reason. This may not seem too much of an issue at face value, but when the individual engages in these activities for hours upon end, it would most likely lead to neglect in other areas of the person’s life, such as bathing or eating.

The potential for psychosis
Imagine a descent into a state marked by hallucinations, delusions, and intense paranoia. It’s not a scene from a horror movie, it’s the potential consequence of long-term meth use. This kind of psychosis isn’t just a temporary detour, either. It mirrors serious mental concerns like schizophrenia, adding layers of complexity to the challenges faced by those already struggling with addiction.

According to research, 40% of meth addicts will experience a part of psychosis commonly known as ‘meth mites’. This is where a user is convinced that they are infested with mites or being bitten by them. This deep psychosis encourages the user to scratch and pick at their skin.

Mood swings
The emotional rollercoaster of methamphetamine abuse is a wild ride. Users swing from intense euphoria during the drug’s effects to deep bouts of depression as its influence fades. It’s like being on a constant emotional seesaw, and the unpredictability of this landscape makes the battle against addiction even tougher. It’s not just the drug they’re fighting; it’s a daily war with their own emotions.
Sleep problems
Sleep, that crucial pillar of mental health, becomes a casualty in the battle against meth addiction. The powerful stimulant disrupts normal sleep patterns, leading to prolonged periods of sleep deprivation. Imagine facing life’s challenges with a worn-out and tired mind.
Social isolation
Meth doesn’t just affect an individual’s relationship with themselves; it wreaks havoc on their connections with others. As the drug takes centre stage, relationships and social activities take a backseat, paving the way for a pervasive sense of loneliness. This isolation also contributes to a cut-off period where the user is out of sight of help. If no one knows where they are, how can they be helped?

The physical effects of meth addiction

Dental issues (‘Meth Mouth’)
You must have seen photos in the media of the havoc that meth can wreak on a person’s dental hygiene. The acidity of the drug, coupled with the amount of involuntary facial movements (jaw clenching, teeth grinding), creates an environment where tooth decay and gum disease thrive. It’s not just about the drug itself, though; often, users struggling with addiction may neglect their oral hygiene, and that only adds to the problem. This can lead to a horrific deterioration of teeth, causing not just physical pain but also impacting a person’s confidence and well-being.
Skin problems
As mentioned previously, one of the concerning side effects of meth use is the fact that some users may feel as though there are bugs below the skin. What’s even more concerning is that individuals may compulsively scratch or pick at their skin in response to these sensations. This leads to open sores and increases the risk of infections like MRSA.
Weight loss
You might have heard that methamphetamine is an appetite suppressant, and while that is correct, chronic use often leads to significant and unhealthy weight loss. This weight loss occurs due to the drug hijacking the body’s natural signals, especially the ones that tell you to eat. Unfortunately, this often means that proper nutrition and self-care take a back seat. The toll on the body can be immense, contributing to an overall physical deterioration that’s difficult to witness.
Respiratory issues
Inhaling or smoking meth can be particularly harsh on the respiratory system. Chronic coughing and shortness of breath become common, and the risk of respiratory infections increases. The very act of seeking a high ends up impacting the very system that keeps us breathing. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s heartbreaking to see the toll it takes on someone’s ability to breathe freely and comfortably.

The social consequences of meth addiction

Family disruption
When meth addiction takes hold, it’s not just the individual that feels the impact; it ripples through the entire family. Relationships that were once a source of support can strain under the weight of conflict and mistrust. The addicted person might unintentionally neglect their roles as a parent or partner, leaving emotional distress in their wake. It may feel like a storm is hitting the family unit, causing instability and sometimes tearing at the very fabric that holds it together.
Financial strain
Imagine trying to juggle your finances while dealing with the relentless demands of a meth habit. It’s not just the cost of the drug itself; it’s the constant need to sustain the addiction. Money meant for bills, groceries, or your child’s education can quickly disappear. This financial strain can lead to a domino effect—job loss, foreclosure, and a cascade of serious consequences that can be hard to recover from. It’s a tough road to walk, not just for the person addicted but for the entire family left grappling with economic hardship.
Legal issues
Meth addiction often leads people down a perilous path. The desperation to fuel their habit might push them into criminal activities, whether it’s theft, burglary, or drug trafficking. The consequences can be severe, involving arrests, imprisonment, and a criminal record that casts a long shadow on future opportunities. It’s heartbreaking to witness someone’s life take such a turn, especially knowing that the root cause is often an addiction that has tightened its grip.
Community impact
Communities are like interconnected ecosystems, and when methamphetamine addiction takes root, it sends shockwaves through the entire community. Increased crime rates, strained healthcare systems, and a general decrease in community well-being become palpable. If enough people in the area are using meth, it becomes a collective challenge. House prices in the area could drop, children in the area would feel unsafe to walk to school, more dealers to adhere to the supply and demand, the list goes on.

Why is meth still so popular despite the consequences?

After reading our previous points about the horrors that meth addiction can bring, it would be very reasonable to feel confused about why people still take the drug and why it’s still popular. As with any drug addiction, the reasons behind continued use can be multifaceted. In the next sections, we attempt to present reasons why individuals persist in taking meth, despite the terrible consequences that addiction brings.

“An energy you’ve never had…”

Source: NCBI

It’s concerning when someone struggling with lethargy, motivation issues, or concentration difficulties finds a quick fix in substances like methamphetamine. In the interview, the profound surge of energy, heightened awareness, and increased productivity as immediate effects are shared. For those familiar with the struggles of daily life, these outcomes might seem like an alluring solution.

The appeal lies in the tangible and rapid benefits that methamphetamine provides. Imagine the allure of newfound vitality and focus for someone who has battled persistent lethargy. The drug also seems to offer more than just a pick-me-up; it taps into the creative well, acting as a catalyst for enhanced artistic and intellectual pursuits. The ability to experience heightened creativity becomes a compelling factor for continued use.

But, what goes up, sadly, must come down. The interviewee goes on to state how quickly his life crumbled around him after extended meth use.

“I didn’t worry about my problems anymore”

Meth seems to be more than just a substance of abuse; for many, it becomes a coping mechanism in the face of emotional challenges. In interviews with residents of a meth rehab centre in Thailand, over 20% revealed that strained family relationships and issues in steady relationships served as emotional precursors to their initiation of meth use. It became a means to navigate through stress, emotional voids, and interpersonal conflicts.

One example involves a 17-year-old male who turned to MA following his parents’ separation. When asked about the impact, he expressed relief, stating that it made all troubles disappear and seem easily solvable. This notion was present in other statements, too:

Curiosity/peer pressure

Here, we see four short accounts of how four separate people first tried meth. Two of them openly admit to a curiosity that seemed like innocent exploration, perhaps a quest for something new. On the flip side, the other two recount instances where the pressure from friends became the tipping point, pushing them into trying their first hit of meth.

Initially, it might seem like a tale of human curiosity and the influence of friends, just the everyday ebb and flow of life. But here’s where it takes a heart-wrenching turn; all four of these accounts stem from individuals currently housed in a rehabilitation centre for meth addiction. Suddenly, what began as innocent curiosity or peer-influenced experimentation has led them to a life-altering struggle, demanding professional intervention.

It’s important to grasp the weight of this realisation – that none of these souls ever intended to find themselves trapped in the throes of addiction, reaching a point where medical help is their lifeline. The heartbreaking truth is that their initial choices have become part of a challenging journey they never foreseen.


One of the world’s most powerful stimulants at a discount price

When we couple together the previous points that meth is so powerful in every aspect, with the cost around the world, we can start to understand why it’s so popular.

  • Canada: Crystal meth can go for as little as $3. It’s disheartening to think that something so destructive is so accessible to people.


  • Thailand: Meth takes the form of a pill, and the cost is surprisingly low at $2.05.


  • Portland, USA: Crystal meth is prevalent, and it’s disturbing to know that a ‘hit’ can be as inexpensive as $5.



You can’t help but feel a sense of concern for those who might be drawn to it due to its lower cost.

Are you struggling with meth addiction?

Are you or someone you care about battling meth addiction? UKAT is here to support your journey to recovery. Our expert team provides tailored support for meth addiction, combining therapy, medical intervention, and a compassionate environment.

Take the first step and contact us today. It’s time to regain your life.

(Click here to see works cited)

    • Rusyniak, D.E. “Neurologic Manifestations of Chronic Methamphetamine Abuse.” Neurologic Clinics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011,,given%20amphetamines.70.
    • Rusyniak, D.E. “Neurologic Manifestations of Chronic Methamphetamine Abuse.” Neurologic Clinics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011,
    • Winocur, E. et al. “Oral motor parafunctions among heavy drug addicts and their effects on signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders.” J Orofac Pain, 2001, 15:56–63.
    • Cohen, A.L. et al. “Methamphetamine Use and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Skin Infections.” Emerging Infectious Diseases, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2007,
    • Jaafari-Sheybani, F. et al. “Histological Changes in Adipose Tissue: An Alarm When Methamphetamine Is Targeted for Weight Loss Purposes.” World Journal of Plastic Surgery, 2021, 10(1), 53–59.
    • Campillo, R. “My Experience and Recovery from Meth Addiction.” Missouri Medicine, 2022, 119(6), 500.
    • Sherman, S.G. et al. “Initiation of methamphetamine use among young Thai drug users: a qualitative study.” The Journal of Adolescent Health, 2008, 42(1), 36–42.
    • Benning, K. “Price of Meth as Low as $3 in Saskatoon.” Global News, 18 Nov. 2019,
    • Robles, F. “Meth Makes a Comeback – and It’s Purer, Cheaper and Much More Lethal.” The Seattle Times, 14 Feb. 2018,
    • “This Is How Much Money People Spend on Drugs in South Africa.” Businesstech, Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.
close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 3757