What Parents Should Know About Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine, or ‘meth,’ is a highly addictive drug that causes severe physical and psychological damage. Meth is often an attractive option for teens to use because it is often easier to obtain and much cheaper than cocaine. In fact, a recent survey of California students revealed that 17 percent of eleventh graders say it’s easy for them to obtain meth. By learning what parents should know about methamphetamine use — including the signs, dangers and facts — you can help prevent your teen from abusing meth.

What are some signs my child is using methamphetamine?

* Staying awake for days, and then crashing and sleeping for days
* Excessive talking
* Dry, itchy skin
* Skin sores from scratching
* Hallucinations
* Uncontrollable anxiety
* Hyperactivity
* Panic attacks
* Rapid weight loss/malnutrition
* ‘Meth jaw,’ named for the collapsed appearance caused by rotting teeth and gums
* Needle and track marks, if the person is injecting meth
* Mood swings ranging from extreme euphoria to aggression
* Nervous, fidgety behavior
* Depression
* Violent behavior
* Homicidal or suicidal thoughts
* Changes in friends
* Poor performance in school
* Increased absenteeism or truancy
* Loss of interest in favorite activities

How is methamphetamine used?

Meth is a powerful and addictive synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth comes in two forms: a white, odorless powdered form that resembles granulated crystals, and in a rock form known as ‘ice.’ Meth can be snorted, taken orally, injected or smoked.

What are the street names for methamphetamine?

* Meth
* Crystal meth
* Ice
* Speed, speedball
* Crank
* Glass
* Crystal
* Tweak

What are some of the dangers of methamphetamine use?

Meth use results in severe physical, psychological and behavioral effects. Short-term meth use can lead to depression, violent behavior, sleep deprivation, hallucinations, skin sores, and homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Long-term meth use can lead to uncontrollable anxiety, panic attacks, malnutrition, brain damage (similar to the effects of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease), memory problems, severe dental problems, stroke or death.

What are some facts and statistics on teens and methamphetamine use?

* 2.8 percent of high school seniors, 2.4 percent of tenth graders, and 2.3 percent of eighth graders have abused methamphetamine at least once. (MTFS, 2008)

* 1.3 million people aged 12 years or older have tried methamphetamine. (MTFS, 2008)

* 17 percent of eleventh graders say it is very easy to obtain meth. (2006 California Student Survey)

What can I do to prevent methamphetamine use in my teen?

* Be alert about warning signs.

* Discuss the dangers of drug use with your child. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs if they learn the risks of drug use from their parents.

* Monitor your teen’s whereabouts and get to know their friends and their friends’ parents.

* Take action if you see any signs of abuse or sense that something is wrong. Don’t wait or the abuse could turn into an addiction.

How do I choose a teen methamphetamine rehab?

Methamphetamine is a very addictive drug. When deciding on a rehab, you should focus on which types of treatment they offer, staff credentials, if they have the proper licensing, and what types of aftercare programs they offer to prevent relapse. You’ll want to decide if your teen needs residential or out-patient rehab, assisted detox, or treatment for a dual diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder. Talking to a medical doctor about your teen’s symptoms can help you determine what type of treatment you should seek.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.