Determining whether someone you know is using drugs can sometimes be quite difficult, especially if the drug user is taking steps to hide or cover up the obvious signs of their use. However, if an individual is using drugs, there will be evident signs of the use that – if spotted – can prove the use of drugs, and allow family members to intervene and convince the user to seek addiction treatment that works for them.
Before one starts to investigate suspected drug use, you need to know the specific side effects and symptoms associated with the various drugs that users abuse. In this article, we will touch on some of the most obvious signs of use for the specific drugs themselves.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that excites the mind and body, and – by increasing heart rate – causes the user to have massive amounts of excess, uncontrollable energy. With this additional energy, many meth users develop obsessive and sometimes fidgety behavior. This may materialize in the user cleaning obsessively, or repeating the same task over and over again – not realizing they have already completed that task, or not satisfied with the outcome of the task. This obsessive behavior also tends to spill over into tasks of the mind as well, and users often become loquacious, intensely engaging in a conversation
that is incoherent or rambling. While this mumbling conversation continues, the meth user’s eyes may rapidly shift and dart around the room and their hands fidget.
While it is almost common knowledge that meth users often see drastic weight loss, this is not always the case, especially in users that are actively attempting to cover up the drug abuse. Inpatient recovery treatment centers are seeing more and more meth users that have developed regimes for curbing the obvious weight loss. These users will use meth in extended time periods, or binges; the binges may last several days, and during that time the user will not eat or sleep. After the several day binge, the user will eat massive amounts of food, equaling the total calorie intake of the “missed” days. Once the user has binged on food, they will often sleep for 4 – 5 days, allowing the food to be metabolized into fat. This process can not only impede the weight loss that is common, but can actually result in the individual gaining weight from fat.
One of the most obvious signs of meth use – especially in acute, severely addicted users – is the formation of blisters between the upper and lower lips; this results from the user “pushing the pipe.” A meth addict will try to get every last bit out of the meth they are smoking, so the user will scrape the burned drug residue, allowing it to collect into a ball which they burn again to produce more smoke. This residue takes much higher temperatures for it to smoke, so the user will put high and intense flames to the pipe, while simultaneously stoking it with deep breaths. This process causes the pipe to heat up to extremely high temperatures and cause burns on the lips where the pipe is touching flesh. The user often doesn’t feel the pain of these burns, because of the numbing effects of the drugs, leaving clean, blistering burns.
In addition to the lips, the teeth also can be a dead giveaway of a meth user, as their tooth and gum health severely decline rapidly with the use of meth. Often called “meth teeth,” users’ teeth rot away quite quickly due to the caustic chemical ingredients of meth, in addition to the lack of protective saliva, and overall bad hygiene of users during a several-day binge. Within just six months of extensive meth use, a perfect set of teeth can become damaged enough that extraction of the teeth is the only option.
While these are just a few examples of how to spot meth use, they are the most telling of the effects. Anyone exhibiting these symptoms – though these symptoms can also be attributed to other medical issues – should be considered as having an obvious problem that should be addressed immediately.
Read part II of this article by clicking HERE.