Detecting Methamphetamine Use that Someone Wants to Keep Hidden

The stereotypical image of a methamphetamine user is someone who is agitated, nervous, paranoid and artificially energetic, always moving from place to place in a manic manner. But that may not be what you see when someone you love is using or even addicted to methamphetamine. There’s a simple reason for this: they don’t want anyone to interfere with their drug use so while they are high, they will avoid anyone who might disapprove.

Drug user is miserable and isolated while using drugs.

In other words, they will inject or smoke the drug away from their parents or sober spouses and friends. They might do their bingeing on this powerful stimulant away from home so no one will try to make them stop.

It’s very possible that you might have to zero in on their drug use by looking for secondary symptoms of drug use—what happens to their health, life, relationships and mental stability.

Meth Can Rapidly Take Over a Person’s Life

For some people, only one use of meth is all it takes to hook them. Many people quickly become daily users while others may only use methamphetamine when they urgently feel the need to escape their problems.

Obviously, a daily user will suffer the most adverse effects from the use of this drug. If a person does his (or her) best to conceal his use of the drug by staying away from those who might object, it can be harder to see those effects.

If a family does see their loved one while he is high on meth, here’s some of the signs that they are likely to see:

  • Sleeplessness, especially if the person has the money to binge on meth for days, followed by a severe crash
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excitement and talkativeness
  • Delusional sense of power and confidence
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Violence
  • Mental confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation

The indirect effects of methamphetamine use may be observed even from a distance.

  • Loss of jobs or abandonment of educational goals
  • Weight loss that may be severe
  • Accidents
  • Repeated health problems
  • Infections
  • Missing funds, lost possessions
  • Severe financial problems, bankruptcy
  • Funds or possessions missing from the person’s place of employment or the homes of friends or relatives
  • Homelessness
  • Broken relationships
  • Isolation, refusal to answer phone calls, text messages or emails
  • Legal problems, incarceration
  • Anger, aggression, creating arguments or fights out of nothing

Of course, these problems will start off small and escalate as drug use develops into addiction. When you see these signs beginning to show up, it would be wise to look a little deeper to determine if drugs are at the core of these problems. You could just notice that a person doesn’t seem as healthy, and gets fired from a job and breaks up with a girlfriend or boyfriend in quick succession. And then there start being requests for money and you notice the person has lost a lot of weight. That’s when you might look a little closer.

This is a time when it might be smart to be a little suspicious rather than trusting. If someone always has excuses and explanations for you, but if you add everything up and it’s obvious that there’s a whole-life decline going on, then you might be looking at drug use.

Happiness is possible when drug rehabilitation is effective.

If you do find drugs involved in this person’s problems, the faster you can help that person arrive at an effective rehabilitation program, the better. The faster rehab starts, the less physical, emotional and mental damage will be created. To get help for a loved one who is struggling with methamphetamine, call us at 1-800-775-8750. We can help you understand the challenge you and your loved one are facing and how that person can overcome addiction for good. We hope to hear from you soon.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.