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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402 Comments on Signs You Live With A Meth User

  1. 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

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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?

    • 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.

  4. all the signs you stated I see everyday. 2 nights ago his eyes were dilated bad. his eyes are blue, but 2 nights ago they were completely black. it was light I was with the devil. since confronting him and him admitting it after lying so many times my life has change for the worse. I’m always stressed out, when I try to talk to him he immediately gets angry. drinking helps keep me calm, without drinking I’d be miserable. now am going to a group for myself because I can’t take the stress of finding meth evidence in my apartment anymore.

  5. I thought i was going crazy till i read all of this. I have asked him time and time again with him making me feel im insane but in my heart i know he is a liar and what is sad is ive never lied to him and i love him so much. I know now I must let him go it is not healthy for me or my children. He can lie to himself but I wont live this way anymore. Thanks for this sight it helped.

  6. Anonymous. // March 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm // Reply

    My boyfriends mom and I are really close, I tell her everything and she tells me everything. She told me she recently relapsed. It was hard considering the fact my bf couldn’t know and she is definitely in danger. I dont want to see her get hurt as well as her kids. And myself. What is the best way to help. I will not let her struggle alone, im not going anywhere. but I need to now how I can help.

    • She will have to want to get help for any assistance to be effective. But you can tell her you’ll be there for her, whether to talk or to attending counseling or meetings.

  7. 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?

    • definitely sounds like meth addiction, seek help yourself before you confront your friend. Stay supported.

  8. I’ve recently left my bf we have 2 kids together and he’s just changed so much lately and I just couldn’t take the lies and sneaking around any longer I know he has struggled with addiction most of his life and I started searching about meth and found this blog and everyone’s story’s sound like I wrote them it’s exactly how he acts. The problem I face is he wants to see our kids and now seeing this I’m sure he is using and I don’t want my kids around him if that’s the case is it fine to just not allow him to have them even without proof??? All this is so much harder with kids it’s easier for me to move on and take him out of my life but my kids put a whole new spin on things any thoughts or advice would be so appreciated

    • Yes, it is tricky when you have kids. There are things you can do, like try to gauge how good or bad of a day he’s having before letting him see them. Or moving to a location that isn’t as convenient for him. If he gets into any legal trouble, you may want to consult a lawyer and use that as an opportunity to limit his custody or visitation. Your kids and your safety are your top priorities.

  9. 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

  10. 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?

    • 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.

  11. My bf was using for years, he had all of these signs. He constantly betrayed my trust, lied to me and becasme abusive. He hit ‘rock bottom’ a few times, lost everything. By being true to myself and having the strength to leave him, he has come back to me in recovery. Addiction is an illness. My advice is No.1 support yourself, as hard as it is don’t get sucked into their behaviour and lies, keep in check of reality by listening to your friends and family or getting involved in a group that supports ‘families of meth users’, No2. when the user is ready to change, as hard as it it will be given all of the pain they have caused try to give them all of the unconditional love and support they need. Lastly, until they admit they are an addict and are ready to change, be strong- give yourself all of the love and support you can by distancing yourself from their destruction.

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