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About Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a recurring problem

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant drug that is potent and extremely addicting. This illicit drug is commonly manufactured in large labs in the United States and throughout the world. It is also made in small home laboratories with over-the-counter cold medicines and other household ingredients. While its use has remained steady or even declined in some areas in the past few years, meth is still a dangerous drug that is causing addiction and devastating lives.

Street Names For Meth: Speed, Crank, Tweek, Crystal, Uppers, Chalk, Ice, Christina, Tina, Go fast, Cookie, Cotton candy, Dunk, Gak, No doze, White cross, Pookie, Scooby snacks, Wash, Trash

History of Meth

Meth is a manmade drug whose history dates back to the 1880s. At that time, amphetamine, a close relative to meth, was first produced in Germany as a synthetic stimulant. In the 1920s, Japan first began chemically making methamphetamine. This drug was used during World War II by both the Americans and the Japanese because of its stimulant effects. Pilots, soldiers, and others involved in the war were given methamphetamine to help them stay awake and alert during long battles.

After the war, the U.S. used methamphetamine to treat mental health issues like depression, and it was also valued as a weight loss drug. Other, non-medical uses quickly became popular, including those who used the drug to stay awake while driving long distances, students who used it to study long into the night, and athletes who used it to improve their strength and endurance.

The government soon became concerned about methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse in the United States, and the substances were made illegal in 1971. However, the drug continued to be manufactured and trafficked from Mexico and areas of the United States, and over the years its composition has changed, and it has become a more potent drug. In the 1990s, meth was largely produced by gangs and Mexican drug lords who manufactured it in large super labs.

Today, meth is also commonly produced in home labs – clandestine operations that make use of over-the-counter cold medications and basic knowledge found on the Internet. These labs often support the meth addict’s habit by allowing them to produce their product right at home, and by providing income through its sale to dealers or other addicts.

Effects of Methamphetamine

Meth is an addictive substance, and even after one use, an individual can begin to feel cravings for more. Meth increases the dopamine in the user’s brain, which is part of the reward center responsible for movement, pleasure, and rewarding behaviors. A meth high usually lasts from 8 to 16 hours, but the drug can remain in the system for up to 72 hours. Because the meth high causes such a pleasing feeling and because when the drug wears off it leads to a low, users immediately want to get high again and again. Taking meth in repeated doses like this is called a binge and crash pattern, sometimes causing the person to take the drug every few hours in order to maintain the high.

Dangers of Meth Use

Someone who takes meth will immediately begin to feel a rush of energy and a sense of happiness and well-being. The individual will feel strong and confident, but over time these good feelings can turn into paranoia, hallucinations, and aggression. The high of meth abuse begins quickly, but it also ends rather quickly, leaving the user wanting more.

In addition to the physical side effects of getting high on meth, individuals who use it experience an immediate lapse in judgment, as their brain becomes impaired by the substance. This impairment can lead to risky behavior, such as unsafe sex, accidents, domestic violence, and motor vehicle crashes.

No matter how it starts, meth use can quickly lead to long term complications as the individual craves more of the substance and keeps returning to get another high.

Short-term effects of meth abuse:

  • Increased energy or activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Breathing more or faster
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Overheating
  • Increased blood pressure

How Meth is Used

  • Swallowed
  • Snorted
  • Injected
  • Inhaled
  • Smoked

Long term effects of meth abuse:

  • Psychosis (paranoia or hallucinations)
  • Problems in thinking ability
  • Problems with motor control
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dental problems ("meth mouth")
  • Intense itching
  • Skin sores
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Heart problems
  • Lung problems
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Violent behavior

Many of the effects of using meth long term are irreversible. Meth users often feel a constant itchy sensation under the skin, causing them to pick at their arms and faces and leave lasting scars. Those who abuse meth for a significant period of time often suffer from severe tooth decay, tooth loss, and other oral problems. This is due to the dry mouth and clenching of teeth that are common among meth users, as well as poor oral hygiene and the acidic nature of the drug.

Memory and cognition difficulties for meth users might be life-long, as well as emotional changes the person has experienced. In addition to these long term effects, meth users who inject their substance put themselves at greater risk for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, which are transmitted through dirty needles. Recent studies suggest that meth users have a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

An additional danger with meth is it is commonly combined with other substances, including other harmful drugs and alcohol. There are street names for each of these derivatives, such as “twisters,” “hugs and kisses,” “fire,” “biker coffee,” and “party and play” when combined with other stimulants including ecstasy, cocaine, and coffee. When combined with other substances, meth can form an even more toxic compound that can cause severe side effects and increase the risk of overdose and death.

Dangers of Meth Manufacturing

Home meth labs are found throughout the United States, as individuals have been able to quickly learn how to make the substance, and the ingredients are easily found in pharmacies and drug stores. Many of these labs are set up right in a user’s home, with some slight modifications. Others are operated from abandoned apartment buildings, buses, or small cabins in remote areas.

These labs conduct chemical reactions that change simple ingredients into meth. The byproducts of these labs are dangerous and contaminate their surroundings with toxic fumes and volatile chemical compounds. Handling meth waste and chemicals can seriously burn skin, eyes, and airways. Battery acid, solvents, and other toxins are released from the meth lab into nearby soil and rivers. Cleaning up an abandoned lab takes time and is also dangerous.

A major concern for those living near meth labs is the risk for explosion, as a simple spark can blow up an entire meth operation. Added to the natural danger of these chemical reactions is the fact that many who operate meth labs are inexperienced, uneducated, and often high on drugs creates a very dangerous situation.

According to the U.S. Forestry Service:

  • One pound of meth produces six pounds of toxic waste.
  • Even months after meth labs have been closed, chemical residue still remains.
  • The chemicals used in the manufacturing process can be corrosive, explosive, flammable, toxic, and possibly radioactive.
  • Solvent chemicals may be dumped into the ground, sewers, or septic systems. This contaminates the surface water, ground water, and wells.
  • Traces of chemicals can pervade the walls, drapes, carpets, and furniture of a laboratory site.


Often times, neighbors and friends living near a meth lab have no idea what has been going on behind closed doors. It is important to recognize the signs of a meth lab in order to put a stop to this activity and prevent events like explosions and contaminations.

How to recognize a methamphetamine lab, according to the U.S. Forestry Service:

  • Unusual, strong odors like cat urine, ether, ammonia, acetone or other chemicals.
  • Coffee filters containing a white pasty substance, a dark red paste, or small amounts of shiny white crystals.
  • Glass cookware or stove pans containing a powdery residue.
  • Shacks or cabins with windows blacked out.
  • Open windows vented with fans during the winter.
  • Excessive trash including large amounts of items such as antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, engine starting fluid cans, HEET cans, lithium batteries, and empty battery packages, wrappers, red chemically stained coffee filters, drain cleaner and duct tape.
  • Unusual amounts of clear glass containers.

The good news is there is treatment for meth addiction. The Ridge can help, call us today!

With a compassionate staff and clear, understandable treatment methods and goals, drug treatment is nothing to be afraid of, but instead an invaluable asset for an addicted person to get healthy again.

Get Help Today! 513.804.2204

Meth Overdose

Meth is a drug that can cause a fatal overdose if taken in large amounts. Using too much of this drug can cause stroke, heart attack, and a dangerous rise in body temperature that leads to organ failure. The result of this type of damage to the body is often long term organ damage or death.

Signs of meth overdose:

  • Enlarged pupils
  • Stomach aches
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid, slowed, or irregular heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Coma
  • Seizure


Immediate medical attention is the only way to treat a meth overdose. First responders will try to save the person by lowering their body temperature through IV fluids, restarting the heart, and restoring blood flow to the brain. In many cases, by the time the person who has overdosed is found, it is too late to reverse the effects of the drug.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA):

  • More than 3,200 poisoning exposures have been reported to poison control due to methamphetamine.
  • At its peak in 2005, methamphetamine was responsible for almost 4,500 deaths in the US alone.
Methamphtamine Picture

Methamphetamine Addiction

While users who first try meth might believe the drug offers a welcome break from the real world and they enjoy the high they feel, even from the start meth is a dangerous substance that quickly destroys lives. Just like with many other drugs, when a person stops using meth, they begin to feel withdrawal symptoms and begin to crave the substance. This leads to an endless cycle of drug use.

When a person stops using meth, they begin to feel withdrawal symptoms within the first 24 hours. These symptoms are not generally physically dangerous, but can be uncomfortable and can lead to dangerous complications.

Meth withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Intense cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Headache


Usually, these withdrawal symptoms are enough to drive the person right back to their addiction. Most people who are addicted to meth try desperately to hide their problem. They know the substance is ruining their lives, but can’t get themselves to stop. This is actually normal because the addictive properties of this drug cause it to control a person so that no amount of willpower can get the person to stop. The best way to finally become free from meth addiction is to seek professional treatment and rehab.

Loved ones of meth addicts often notice a change in the individual’s personality and emotional state first, but the warning signs of meth addiction are numerous. Most people who are high on meth will obviously be intoxicated and will talk with slurred speech, be less aware of their actions and surroundings, and will have an abnormally high amount of energy. Meth users are usually hyperactive, with lots of excessive movement and much talking.

Over time, the loved ones of meth users will notice a change in the person’s attitude and behavior, even when not on the drug. The person will demand more privacy and be protective of their personal space. They will spend large amounts of time talking about or thinking about meth or other drugs. They will stop spending time engaging in activities that once were important to them because they are too busy getting high, and they will neglect normal responsibilities. A drop in grades, poor work performance, and absence from work and family gatherings are all common warning signs of meth users.

Family and friends that are concerned about an addicted loved one should contact a professional treatment facility to learn about their loved one’s options and the programs offered for their needs.

Meth Detox 

Meth addiction is a condition that can successfully be treated, but it takes time, hard work, and dedication to getting and remaining sober. It also takes the expertise of trained professionals who know how to effectively interact with the meth addict and help them overcome their cravings and build the foundation for a drug-free life.

The first step in meth addiction treatment is detox. This is when the person will go through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, but doing so with the help and encouragement of professionals and peers will make it much easier. Detoxing from meth causes side effects such as mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, psychosis, and intense cravings. These symptoms are not life threatening, and don’t usually cause problems. However, if the individual becomes dehydrated or acutely confused or disoriented, they can experience more serious complications. For this reason, detoxing from meth at home is not recommended. Instead, going through detox under the watchful eye of professional treatment staff that has access to medications that can help eases symptoms is the best way to detox from meth.

Crash. Acute meth withdrawal under the supervision of a treatment team usually lasts from a few days to a week or longer. The first phase of meth withdrawal is called the crash, and it is when the body is most aware of the sudden changes it faces without meth. The symptoms begin around 24 hours after the last dose of the drug and include fatigue, depression, insomnia, headache, and sometimes hallucinations and paranoia. These side effects of detox are related to the dopamine levels in the person’s brain, which while addicted have been regulated by the methamphetamine. When the person stops using meth, their pleasure center is confused and they feel an overwhelming low, as the body is not accustomed to releasing dopamine on its own yet.

While the body and brain adjust to the absence of the drug, the person will feel overwhelmingly tired and will spend much time sleeping and eating, both of which were suppressed while on meth. As their metabolism returns to normal levels, the person will gradually become more active.

Cravings. The second phase of meth withdrawal is called the cravings, and it is when the person once again begins to crave the high they had while on meth. Without proper help, this is the time most recovering meth addicts will return to their drug. This phase of meth withdrawal can last up to 10 weeks and is often categorized by depression and trouble sleeping. Again, with help, these symptoms can be minimized and the person can refocus on sobriety.

Recovery. The final stage of meth detox is after the cravings have become less intense and the individual is ready and able to maintain their sober environment. This is the time that therapy and counseling are best received by the person in recovery.

Everyone who goes through withdrawal has their own unique experiences, based on their history, physical make up, and drug use. For some, the process of detoxing from meth is relatively short and painless. For others, it can last for months. With the right kind of help, however, meth withdrawal should not be feared. 

Treatment for Meth Addiction

No recovery from meth would be complete without treatment in the form of rehab and therapy. If a person is able to successfully detox on their own, they still face an extremely high rate of relapse if they try to end their recovery there and do not go on to participate in therapy.

Inpatient Therapy. Treatment for methamphetamine addiction can take several different forms. The most structured form of rehab and usually the first step for individuals after detox is inpatient treatment. Also called residential treatment, this form of rehab provides intensive therapeutic therapy sessions throughout the day, and just as importantly, it provides a drug-free living environment. Part of the success of inpatient rehab is due to the fact that residents do not have access to drugs, nor do they have interactions with negative influences that would tempt them to use again.

This positive, controlled environment is perfect for those who are newly sober and facing cravings to use, but who are willing to participate in therapy sessions that will help them manage cravings and triggers to use. Behavioral therapies that are commonly used in meth treatment include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the 12-Steps, and other therapies such as art and music therapy, motivational interviewing, and family therapy also have benefits during recovery.

Another benefit to residential rehab is the ability to form positive peer relationships. Individuals in this setting interact with one another throughout the day and in group counseling sessions, building relationships and providing encouragement. Long after rehab is done, alumni groups find it beneficial to remain in contact with each other for support and relapse prevention.

During residential rehab, the individual is supervised around the clock and is provided with healthy meals and the opportunity for exercise and recreation. Healthy nutrition and exercise are important because they help replenish nutrients that were lost to addiction, and help rebuild strength and energy to the healing body.

Outpatient Therapy. A step down from residential treatment is outpatient therapy. During this time, the individual still participates in intensive therapy and counseling but does so while living at home and traveling to the rehab facility for sessions. Outpatient therapy provides a good connection with the treatment facility as the individual slowly gets back to real life and the responsibilities they once had. Each person is different, but many can return to work at this time, or back to living with their family and interacting with loved ones.

Some people are able to begin their therapy on an outpatient basis, but for most, this step in recovery occurs after graduating from residential treatment. It is important that the person who enrolls in outpatient therapy is able to remain sober while living away from the facility, and is committed enough to the program to attend all sessions as recommended. Because these individuals face more temptations and triggers to use, they need to be more solid in their sobriety than someone enrolled in inpatient therapy.

After care. Because methamphetamine is such a controlling substance, it is recommended that those going through treatment for it participate in long term after care. This final phase of treatment is a safety net, providing long term support and encouragement, as well as immediate treatment if relapse is about to occur.

As the person gets back to life after meth rehab, they will still face temptations and cravings to use. These can be minimized if the person eliminates contact with negative influences and people that they once got high with or who supplied their drugs, but cravings will still occur at times. When a newly recovered individual feels weak and is tempted to use again, the best thing they can do is contact a treatment provider or fellow support group member, to hear encouragement to remain sober. Regular participation in therapy sessions and support group meetings helps keep the lines of communication open so those in recovery feel comfortable contacting others when they need help.

As an individual finishes up therapy and rehab, they should create a long term plan they can follow to remain sober after they return to their normal lives. This relapse prevention plan should include activities such as ongoing therapy sessions, support group meetings, and participation in alumni activities.

Remaining sober after meth addiction and recovery involves dedication and positive interactions with others. Sober living does not have to be dull or boring; many people have found that with the right group of friends and positive influences, they are able to go on to live healthy, rewarding lives. Living free from meth addiction is worth the journey.

Methamphetamine Statistics


Emergency room visits. According to the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • Overall, the number of methamphetamine-related emergency department (ED) visits rose from 67,954 in 2007 to 102,961 in 2011, with similar patterns seen for males and females.
  • In 2011, a majority (62 percent) of ED visits involving methamphetamine also involved other drugs; about one quarter (29 percent) of visits involved combinations with one other drug, and one third (33 percent) involved combinations with two or more other drugs.
  • In 2011, about one fifth (22 percent) of methamphetamine-related visits involved combinations with marijuana, and one-sixth (16 percent) involved combinations with alcohol; these were the same top two drug combinations found in 2008.
  • Of all methamphetamine-related ED visits in 2011, about 6 in 10 (64 percent) resulted in patients being treated and released.


Meth use among adults and teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

  • In 2008 approximately 13 million people over the age of 12 have used methamphetamine—and 529,000 of those are regular users.
  • In 2007, 4.5% of American high-school seniors and 4.1% of tenth-grade students reported using methamphetamine at least once in their life.
  • In the United States, the percentage of drug treatment admissions due to methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse tripled from 3% in 1996 to 9% in 2006.
  • In 2013 about 12.3 million people over 12 years of age report using methamphetamine at some point during their lifetime. This number is only a slight decrease from 2012. The same decline is not shown when looking at the last year and last month non-medical use, as these numbers saw an increase.
  • In 2013, about 30,000 more people admitted to using methamphetamine non-medically in the last year than in 2012.
  • In 2013, about 15,000 more people admitted to using methamphetamine non-medically in the last month than in 2012.
  • Of the 12.3 million users, about 530,000 of them are thought to be regular users.


Legal methamphetamine prescriptions. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):

  • Only 16,000 prescriptions for methamphetamine were given in 2012.
  • About 4,000 prescriptions were written in the first quarter of 2013 – maintaining the expected rate.
  • The total legal production quota of methamphetamine in the U.S. for the year 2013 was less than 4,000 kilograms (less than 4 metric tons).


Meth production. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

  • Methamphetamine has been a billion-dollar industry in the US for a number of years including an estimated $13 billion in 2010, down from a high of $23 billion in 2005.
  • The most money was made from meth when it was the cheapest in 2005. Since then, the drug recovered in price then dropped to $328 per one-quarter of a gram in 2010.
  • An estimated the worldwide production of amphetamine-type stimulants, which includes methamphetamine, at nearly 500 metric tons a year, with 24.7 million abusers.


Cost of meth use. According to a RAND Corporation study:

  • 70% of the overall cost of meth addiction on the intangible costs related to using meth.
  • Of these costs, dependent users make up about $16.6 billion.
  • Many expenses emerge from the lower quality of life and premature mortality of meth users ($4 billion).
  • Crime and criminal justice costs related to methamphetamine, on the other hand, account for 18% of the overall cost.


Finding the Right Treatment 

Meth users who want to get sober should do their research and find the rehab facility that is right for them. Some treatment centers specialize in certain types of drug addiction or only serve a specific population. Others lack experience and accreditation or only provide one or two treatment modalities. For the best chance at success, an individual and their family should ask questions about the rehab center before enrolling, to be sure the program is the right fit and can serve the individual’s specific needs.

The Ridge is a residential addiction treatment center that specializes in individualized care. Our team of treatment professionals assesses each individual before they enroll in our program, in order to determine their needs and connect them with a program that can assist them. If it is determined that detox and residential treatment are the best first steps for the person, our staff will work with the individual to create a treatment plan that will work for them. If the individual needs medical detox, we can refer them to a hospital setting where they will be cared for by a medical team.

The important thing is to understand the person’s needs and tailor the program around those needs. The Ridge offers a variety of therapy methods, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 12-Steps, Art and Music Therapy, and Family Therapy. When used in combination, these therapies help our clients understand their addiction and address the factors that have contributed to the addiction. By helping individuals improve their thought processes, increase motivation, and restore positive family dynamics, we can help them establish the foundation for a sober life.

The Ridge offers all the comforts of home in a beautiful and modern facility. Our meals are chef prepared and clients have the opportunity to enjoy exercise facilities as well as recreation on our 51 acres of land.

Client safety is our number one concern, and we are proud to be Joint Commission accredited, holding us to the highest expectations for safety and services offered. Our program is physician-directed, meaning our team is experienced in offering medication-assisted treatment, and we use therapies that have been clinically proven to work.

Ready to get help for meth addiction? The Ridge can help, call us today!

With a compassionate staff and clear, understandable treatment methods and goals, drug treatment is nothing to be afraid of, but instead an invaluable asset for an addicted person to get healthy again.

Get Help Today! 513.804.2204

Get Help Today!
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