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Signs You Live With A Meth User

Signs You Live With A Meth User

I originally wrote a similar article detailing my 15-year life with a meth user. I have yet to post it. While I still plan to post that at some point, I found it too difficult to publish at this point. If you’ve lived with a meth user, you know how emotionally, physically, and mentally draining it can be. So for the time being, I will compromise with myself and post a more objective description of meth use.I’ve read other sites, and sometimes I get the idea these “experts” have never lived with a meth user through the worst of it. I don’t write this with the expertise of a doctor who has studied patients and run tests.

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I lived with a user. For well over a decade. I was married into a family of them. I saw her family and friends all doing it. Through my ordeal I learned to hate the drug, but I also became quite familiar with the signs and the cycle that follows meth use. I may not be an expert at treating it, but I am definitely an expert at spotting it.

If you feel like someone you love may be using meth, I will describe what you might be seeing.

One common denominator of meth use is secrecy. If you’re not a fellow user or supplier, you won’t be privy to the truth of their world. They’ll lie to your face and assume you believe everything they say. Users hide their addictions, deny it, and sometimes even ridicule others for doing it (perhaps to throw us off the scent?).

Just before using, you might sense something is going on. You’ll see unusual behavior, such as disappearing into another room to take a call, going into the bathroom for 20 minutes, running a sudden “errand” that would normally wait (such as running out for milk at 1am when you still have half a gallon in the fridge). You might also see certain “friends” show up for very brief visits, sometimes not even getting out of their car.

If you haven’t been able to translate the above issues – wow you’re slow! No, just kidding. Haha.. They simply mean the meth user is looking for some drugs.

The Deal
A meth user will often go on the hunt for their drug. They’ll disappear to make phone calls, or even drive to their dealer’s house if the can’t contact him. Those are the “errands” they usually run. Or sometimes their dealer might even show up, either having been called or maybe just making a courtesy call to see if the user needs anything.

How thoughtful.

After the deal, the meth user will then go do the deed. It could be in the bathroom or in their car in a nearby field. They might also do it somewhere that is more “meth friendly” than around you, such as at another user’s house. The actual use is very brief – only a few moments.

You might see remnants of the use, such as straws, pieces of tin foil, small bags or pieces of plastic wrap, razor blades, lighters – you get the idea. These things are all standard meth-related items. If the user snorted it, he could be touching his nose often because of the sensation/irritation of sucking it up his nose.

Hey we’re just getting started. This is where you enter the picture and start to see things.

The High
After doing meth, the user will display some very obvious and animated signs. The pupils will be dilated. To me that was always the tip-off. Dilated eyes, even in a bright room, were always immediate and obvious. The skin is warm to the touch and heart is pounding. You will see a mood that is a little bit too happy. And lots of energy. Meth users often get little or no sleep for days after using. They will also display exaggerated or semi-uncontrolled mannerisms, such as constant cleaning, preening, talking, etc., along with uncontrolled twitching or facial tics. During the high, the meth user often lacks an appetite and may go an entire day eating virtually nothing. It’s not uncommon to see them overly productive, such as cleaning or doing repetitive tasks, even in the middle of the night. They might pick at their hair or skin repeatedly. Almost obsessively. When they do sleep, it might be agitated and filled with movement, sweating, talking, laughing, or gibberish. The user may exhibit a heightened sexual arousal. You may even notice that the person has an unusual odor.

So why do meth users want to be this way? They don’t. Those are only the things being externalized. Inside, they are experiencing a sense of euphoria, confidence, and well-being that is far beyond what they feel when sober. They live for the high, and deal with everything else.

Those of us on the outside can’t imagine how it becomes worth it. But it does.

The Plateau
There is a brief period between the high and the crash in which the user begins to shift behavior patters. I call this the Plateau. The high is coming to and end and the user begins to display new symptoms. He begins to slow down. He might still be animated, but in a less energetic state. If he can’t get more meth, he will start to head quickly into the crash.

The Crash (aka “Coming Down”)
When a meth user has exhausted his supply and what he ingested has worked its way through his system, we have the crash. A crashing user might spend several days in bed. He might be asleep the entire time, or is awake but lethargic. He might only getting up to use the restroom or have a quick snack. The worst part of the crash is that it’s typically accompanied by a very agitated and foul demeanor. The user can get violent and display psychotic traits and huge mood swings. Lethargic, irrational, angry, moody, and confused – these are all signs of the crash.

From my perspective, this was by far the worst part. Whereas the user is mostly irritating during the high, he is more likely to focus his crashing ire directly at you. You will likely get sucked into absurd arguments or even find yourself dodging violent behavior.

It can last a few days. A few days of hell.

The Recovery
As the crash wears off, the meth user begins to revert back to his pre-high self. He might even exhibit better than normal behavior.

And just when you think life is back to normal, the cycle soon repeats and the roller coaster ride begins again. It is exhausting and frustrating for the loved ones enduring it.

Though I’ve focused on the short-term signs of meth use, I should point out that there are long-term signs of meth use as well. Weight loss, tooth decay, poor hygiene, increased acne, dry skin, hair loss, mental illness, memory loss, paranoia, depression, and psychosis are all possible. Not all of these are necessarily reversible.

If you suspect someone you love is using meth, you need to get help. If you can’t get help, you need to get out.

Note: in 2011 I posted a follow-up to this article, about avoiding your own addiction to the addict.

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  • Laura Jean Hoeffner

    My roommates son thinks his mom is using meth but all the signs I just read I have never seen with her, so is it wrong for me just to stay out of it?

  • no name

    My mother in law is a user and she has used for at least 10 years. My father in law has been in recovery for 14 yesrs and also works for a clean and sober house’s. It bothers me that they just play blind and ignore the fact that she is using. Shes a good grandma to my kids. But I cant stand they allow her to just continue using and just turn a blind eye. Can anyone help me understand why they just let this happen?

    • waffles

      While everyone is different, my opinion is that some people just don’t want to deal with it and face the problem. It’s easier to just act like everything is normal rather than “rock the boat” and confront such a problem.

  • Anonymous1

    You’ve all made this so much clearer for me all the signs I saw were real and not me just imagining them I’m so happy I made the choice to leave now I just have to figure everything else out thank you all soo much

  • anonymous

    When I met my friend he was my dream come true. He told me about his past and he would take me everywhere he would go. Now he seldomly ask me to go with him. I’ve noticed that he does a lot of twitching while asleep, he has varies of sores on his stomach, arms and I’m concern about this. Can this be signs of him still on Meth?

  • jackie

    My 53 year old daughter has been acting strangely for some time, A lot of the same things you wrote about. We tried to talk to her about it but she becomes very angry. She lives by her self, pays her own bills doesn’t ask for a thing from me. But is making very dangerous decision. How can I help her?

    • waffles

      It is hard to help someone who doesn’t want to get help. You can distance yourself from the problem, avoid enabling/supporting her, and be honest to her about your concerns. Most of all, keep yourself at a safe distance. Good luck.

  • brad

    I have been with my partner for a year. When I first met him he was upfront about his past and that he’s been clean for 8 years. he proposed to me on my bday 2 weeks ago. Everything was fine until 5 days ago he spent almost an hour in the bathroom. I went in after he came out and found a meth pipe wrapped in a towel. I confronted him and he lied 3 times. by the 4th time asking he finally admitted using. he said he would stop, then today another meth pipe hidden in the closet. I’m so frustrated, depressed, terrified and feel betrayed. I love to death and I don’t want to give up. I just want him to get help before things get worse.

    • waffles

      Giving up is easier said than done. The betrayal you feel is all too familiar, and it was hard to get past. Even years later, I don’t think I ever did. Good luck, and keep us updated.

  • hopeful

    Hi there!

    Like many of you I have someone in my life that has fallen victim of this terrible poison. As I read the actual article I honestly didn’t learn to much about item simply because I already knew it. It was a bit comforting to not have that alone feeling.

    The problemi

  • Sarah

    Paula, I would like some advice from you. It sounds like you went through exactly what I am going through right now. I am not ready to give up on my marriage but I don’t know how else to convince him to get help. How do I get him to quit without getting him to admit it first? Where did you send your husbands hair off to get tested? Was it expensive? I have found meth in the house once and saw a couple incriminating text messages but somehow he has an explanation for everything. I feel the same way about his habit. I would rather he had an affair than developed a drug addiction because at least then he would be a healthy liar instead of a liar who is slowly killing himself and setting a bad example for our kids.

  • waffles

    It can be hard to tell sometimes. Besides the eyes, look for other symptoms such as too much or too little sleep, dental or skin problems, odd mannerisms, etc. Do you have another trusted adult with whom you can speak? An aunt, older sibling, or grandparent for example? Or perhaps you could approach your dad and tell him your concerns, if you feel it is safe to do so. Good luck, and please check back with us again soon.

    • trishafaye

      Uh, well his jobs always allowed him too little of sleep, and I don’t know if his teeth or skin would start showing to where anyone would notice would it? like this has gone on for like maybe 3 to 4 months now. And he’s normally a goofy guy but idk how to explain how he acts different like you have to know him cause my best friend noticed he’s been acting strange lately. And I can’t really talk to anyone about it cause my siblings are all younger, and I’m currently trying to live with my dad most of the time so I don’t have to be around my mother… So if anything were to happen I really can’t lose my dad cause then I’d be going through hell all the time with my mother… If he leaves again tonight I could possibly call him out on it. But thanks for some help, I really appreciate it.

      • waffles

        Good luck again, and check back again soon to let us know how it’s going.

  • Cheri


    I feel for you. Trust your instincts and find the courage to go. That being said if you are anything like me you probably won’t. I was given the same advice and is stayed. I don’t want to be negative but the verbal abuse will probably escalate. Several months ago I had posted here and did not think things could really get worse until I was thrown through a wall in October. I filed for a restraining order but they could not find him to serve him. He did get arrested last month for it and has to pay fines, go to counseling and is on probation. I should be done with him but instead am trying yet again to give him another chance hoping this time he can stay clean. It’s a horrible cycle and even if they admit they have a problem it won’t mean it will go away. It’s so hard to love someone with this addiction and watch what it does to them. Please remember to take care of yourself first. My thoughts are with you.

  • Christina

    I’m having a hard time believing my ex of nine years when he tells me he’s not smoking meth. I moved out about a year ago so we can work on things and about two months ago I read a text in his phone saying his buddy was coming over with some spoof. First red flag. Then I went snooping one day in the garage and found six different pipes. Second red flag. I knew that once in a blue moon him and his buddies would get some cocaine or meth to party with, but I found three light bulbs and three pipes. He said his friends were doing stuff a while back and said I was lying about finding six of them. Then I get an email from our landlord telling me she was concerned because rent has not been paid in four months. Third red flag. I don’t love there so I don’t pay rent. We had our car repossessed back in Sept and cost us a lot of money to get back. He said he got behind because of the car. Then said it was none of my business because I don’t live there. He stopped drinking beer and has lost a ton of weight but his face looks sunken in. Fourth red flag. He put cameras up because the house is not in the best neighborhood. I don’t known that’s the reason or he’s becoming paranoid. When I come over we’ll go out to eat, his eyes don’t look dilated, he seems to be acting normal. I think he’s smoking method a few times a week. I don’t know. If I bring it up we just argue. Any ideas?

    • waffles

      Only you know what’s best, but based on my experiences…

      He will probably not admit it, so bringing it up may not do much good, unless you think he will respond to you calling him out on it. You probably never be able to “prove” his meth use, even if you found some on him. I found meth in our apartment once – and she still denied it! You just have to follow your instincts and do what’s in your best interest. He may or may not be doing meth, but the red flags are there, and it doesn’t sound like he’s in a good place.

      Since he is your ex, is it possible to put some distance between the two of you for a while?

      • Christina

        Yeah, it’s possible. I’m trying really hard to finish this semester strong and this is such a distraction. I love him to death but I know letting him go is best. At least for now. Thanks

  • Crystal

    I came across this site and its nice to no I am not the only one who has been deeply hurt by having a loved one addicted to Meth!I have been with my husband for 8 yrs. I think he has used off and on the whole time we have been together but I was to naïve in the beginning to see it. now after yrs of being with him I have the routine down like the back of my hand!! I thought leaving this last time would wake him up but no I came back to only live through it again! I am fed up but I love him but so sick of hurting and seeing my kids hurt I could scream!!!!

  • Kay

    What do you do when you feel like your parents have ruined your life because of their addictions to meth? I love my parents but, I also hate them because, I have to struggle in life because they can’t stop with their addictions. I always want to just disappear and not care about my family but it is so hard when they are the only ones you’ve got & then you have this guilty conscience killing you because you have to help them get help or they will never change but they are my PARENTS! Why do I have to make a move, why did I have to teach myself what is wrong from right. How to get a job, do things on my own, while my grandparents pay for all their stuff in denial and take care of them but, I’m the grandchild and have to do everything on my own! It’s not FAIR! I didn’t ask for this! My parents are so selfish… I wish I wasn’t even born at times because I feel like my mother may have been high while pregnant with me because, I am emotionally messed up, like I was born depressed.

  • Confused

    My husband only has few signs everything else he seems to do the opposite. For example he’ll be put all night but sleep like a regular person during the day. If he doesn’t go out he sleeps fine through the night. He doesn’t have bad skin or a loss of appetite. Usually he’ll have the drippy runny nose and he hasn’t had one sniffle. His boogers are filmy an crystally though. No cold sweats but he does twitch in his sleep but he doesn’t yell or scream or talk. Last week I found out he was looking on Craig’s list for escorts, but I think he was just looking at pics. Sex is the same we hardly have it, but when we do we have a good connection usually when he’s high it’s like I’m not there and he’s just trying to get off. His pupils were dilated, but when I turned on a light the adjusted. I’m not sure what to think I want to believe him, but I’m just not sure….your thoughts please :0)

    • waffles

      It will always be difficult to prove meth use unless you catch him in the act. It seems that – based on my experience – the meth user’s pupils remain large even in a well-lit room. From what you have written above, it doesn’t seem that your husband completely matches the description of most meth users I’ve encountered. Then again, not everyone reacts the same. You may try bringing up the topic of meth or drugs – even in a general sense – and see how he reacts to the topic.

  • Hopeless

    My husband has been an on and off again addict for 13 years. The first time he got out of control he kicked me and the kids out when I caught him cheating on me. He literally threw our stuff out of the house. Of course he said he was sorry after losing us (he hates being alone) he came back. That was the worst, his mood swings were out of control. He slept all the time and when he wasn’t sleeping he was out all night. He hit me and put a gun to my head and threatened to kill me and my nephew. I kept telling myself that he was sick and needed and mad it through it. The second time was about 4 years later. I suspected he was cheating (he wasn’t screwing her he was getting high with her) and left. We still saw each other and that’s when I realized that he was using again. He was talking to girls, looking at singles websites, drippy runny nose and very moody. We’re talking one second he loved me and the next he couldn’t stand me. Well we got back together and now just a few months layer I feel that he’s using again. He’s becoming secretive, he stays put all night and when he comes home he’s either very happy or very mad or he sleeps all weekend and his stomach hurts. And it’s always my fault no matter what. The thing is he doesn’t have any normal signs of use. His pupils are only dilated when it’s dark and compared to my kids they look the same. He’s a big guys and eats. He showers and shaves. And the nights that he’s home he sleeps and wakes up like normal. The reason I think he’s using is he’ll sleep on and off all weekend, he’s moody, his boogers are sparkle, and he twitches when he sleeps. I do make comments and he just denies it. I don’t want to keep harping on it, but damn.

  • Shelly

    I agree my meth user, used for better part of 20 years! Lost his wife, his kids, his home, his family, EVERYTHING. He didn’t get “clean” till he spent 6 months in jail for child support. When he got out he had learned to control his addiction to the point if inly getting high occasionally! Then he met his second wife (also an addict) and they started family number two. When his son was 6 months old just started crawling, they had left him with a “friend” and he crawled into a room and ate a “Baggie” of meth. Nearly 6 days later and an obvious near death experience of his son, is what made him finally go through rehab and kick the addiction. 13 years later he hasn’t touched it but will still tell you if someone offered it he couldn’t say no! He moved, left everything he knew behind and started over with a clean slate. Knowing that was his ONLY option of staying of meth. However, he has replaced the meth with alcohol. One addiction for another smh!!!

  • Tim

    My wife of 18 years started staying gone from the house for 7 to 8 hours a day for a wal mart trip, lost about 30 lbs in 30 days, she was in high gear all the time. She did quit her job this was 9 months ago, she moved back in and I noticed last night she left the house at 12 midnight to get cigs and had a half pack, she was gone for 2 hours, she came back and I smelled a somewhat sweet smell on her, and again she was washing clothes and stuff, this was 3 in the morning.. She is verbally abusive, attacks me for anything, I am a disabled Veteran who she is suppose to care for, That smell (Sweet like) is in her clothes and she denied it the last time. What does it look like?

  • mary

    Wow reading your reply was like reading my life! My husband is 41and took off last dec. 7th. He left me and his four boys at the hospital where his 7 year old just had a small bowel transplant. He has taken everything and we are still at thr hospital He got a gf and used openly with her. sad that I am not the only person going through this!

  • waffles

    Great tips, thank you so much for your input – and good luck!

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