What Does Meth Look Like?

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What Is Meth?

Meth is short for methamphetamine, a powerful central nervous system stimulant. It’s usually used recreationally for its euphoric effects, but it also has a high potential for abuse and dependence. The drug is often smoked, injected, or snorted by the user. 

Some slang terms for meth include:

  • Speed
  • Crank
  • Ice
  • Chalk
  • Wash
  • Trash
  • Dunk
  • Gak
  • Pookie
  • Cookies
  • Christina
  • No doze
  • White cross
  • Cotton candy
  • Rocket fuel
  • Scooby Snax

Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and motor function. This leads to an intense rush of pleasure (or euphoria) but can also lead to harmful effects like severe dental problems, skin sores, heart problems, and even alterations in brain structure and function over time.

Due to the high potential for abuse and addiction, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. New forms of meth have also emerged in recent years which signals the need for treatment options.  In this article, we’ll talk about meth addiction symptoms, the difference between methamphetamines and amphetamines, and what to do about meth addiction.

Methamphetamine vs Amphetamines

Methamphetamine is a derivative of amphetamine. However, it has a slightly different chemical structure. This difference makes methamphetamine more potent and allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily, leading to more significant effects on the central nervous system.

Another difference from amphetamines: amphetamines have more accepted medical uses, such as the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Meth is approved for ADHD, but its use is extremely limited, and the dose is much lower than what is typically abused.

It’s important to note that these figures are estimates and they only apply when meth is used alone. Combining meth with other drugs – for example, alcohol – will delay your body’s metabolism of meth. That could lead to meth appearing on drug tests longer than usual after consumption.

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What Does Meth Look Like?

Methamphetamine can come in several forms, but it’s most often seen as a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It can also come in clear, chunky crystals resembling ice, which is why one common street name for methamphetamine is “ice” or “crystal meth.”

The “crystal” or “ice” form of methamphetamine typically resembles large, clear crystals or small, bluish-white rocks. This form is often associated with a higher purity level and longer-lasting, more intense effects.

Methamphetamine can also be found as a pill or in a liquid form, but this is much less common than the powdered or crystalline forms.

The exact appearance of methamphetamine can vary, as impurities or cutting agents used in the production process can alter its appearance. Therefore, it is difficult to definitively identify a substance based on appearance alone.

If you or a loved one is suffering from meth addiction, contact us here.

Is Breaking Bad Blue Meth Real?

Blue meth is not common but has been reported by authorities before. Drug dealers were trying to capitalize off the success of the hit AMC series Breaking Bad, with blue meth being seized by DEA agents in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The drug has also been reported in Colorado, Utah, Missouri, and other states as well as in Canada.

What Are the Signs of Meth Addiction?

Meth addiction can lead to a lot of noticeable changes to a person’s behavior and appearance.

Here are some common signs of meth addiction that you might notice in a person:

  • Behavioral changes — Dramatic changes in behavior such as increased aggressiveness, irritability, mood swings, paranoia, and hyperactivity are common. People abusing meth may also exhibit secretive or deceitful behavior to hide their addiction.
  • Changes to physical appearance —  There might be a noticeable and rapid weight loss due to decreased appetite. Those who abuse meth often have poor oral health, sometimes referred to as “meth mouth,” characterized by tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. You might also see skin sores or frequent skin picking, which can result from the hallucination of bugs crawling under the skin (“meth mites”).
  • Sleep disturbances —  Meth can cause severe insomnia or significant alterations to a person’s sleep schedule. The person might stay awake for several days at a time.
  • Intense focus on a task —  Meth can cause hyperfocus, leading to a person spending an excessive amount of time on a task, such as cleaning or assembling and disassembling objects.
  • Psychosis —  In severe cases, meth can cause hallucinations and delusions, which can lead to psychotic behavior.
  • Withdrawal symptoms —  If a person tries to stop using meth, they may experience depression, fatigue, increased appetite, excessive sleeping, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drug.
  • Financial and legal problems —  Those struggling with meth addiction may also encounter issues such as legal problems due to drug-related offenses or financial difficulties as resources are directed towards sustaining the addiction.
  • Neglect of responsibilities and relationships —  People addicted to meth often neglect personal responsibilities, work, school, and relationships.

Meth addiction can also lead to numerous health and social problems such as cognitive decline, heart issues, increased risk of infectious diseases, and severe dental problems known as “meth mouth.” The psychological and physical dependence on the drug can make quitting extremely difficult and often requires professional substance abuse help, including medical detox and long-term therapy.

How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?

Methamphetamine withdrawal can vary significantly from person to person. Factors that may influence a meth withdrawal timeline include length of use, frequency and amount used, overall health, individual metabolism, and the use of other substances.

However, a general timeline for meth withdrawal might look something like this:

  • 24-72 hours —  The initial crash that follows discontinuation of meth can include symptoms like extreme fatigue, increased appetite, anxiety, and depression.
  • Week 1 —  During the first week, physical symptoms will generally be at their peak. These might include intense drug cravings, sleep problems, and continuing depression and anxiety. Physical symptoms like tremors, headaches, and fever may also occur.
  • Week 2 —  Symptoms will often continue into the second week, though they may begin to lessen in intensity. Depression, cravings, and sleeping problems are still common.
  • Weeks 3-4 —  By this point, the acute physical symptoms will usually have resolved, but psychological symptoms like cravings, depression, and anxiety may persist.

Methamphetamine withdrawal can be severe and even dangerous, so it’s essential to seek professional medical help when attempting to quit. Detoxing in a medically supervised setting can provide the necessary support and care to manage withdrawal symptoms effectively and safely.


After a month, most of the immediate withdrawal symptoms will have subsided. However, some people may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can cause withdrawal symptoms to come and go for several months. Symptoms of PAWS can include depression, anxiety, irritability, and occasional cravings.

Additionally, some psychological effects, such as cravings or depression, may persist for several months to a year. Long-term psychological support and treatment are often necessary for recovery from meth addiction.

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Meth Addiction Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health

If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help.

At South Coast, we seek to be a beacon, resource, and partner for those struggling with meth addiction. We offer affordable and compassionate treatment for meth addiction, with meth treatment centers all over the country.

Before starting treatment with us, you’ll go through our medical detox program. Our certified detox professionals will provide you research-backed medical support as you rid your body of meth and other toxins.

After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.

There are several different approaches to treating meth addiction, including:

Residential Treatment

After successfully completing medical detox, you’ll transition to residential treatment, also known as inpatient treatment. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, a partial hospitalization program offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for a number of hours each day, returning back to their homes in the evening.

This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, and medication management as necessary.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Clients undergoing this program participate in intensive therapy sessions, meeting three to five days a week, with each session lasting three hours. This level of care is a step down from partial hospitalization, requiring less time commitment.

IOPs offer participants the ability to continue their employment or academic obligations, receiving support and therapy as needed as they prepare to reenter society.

Outpatient Care

Finally, there’s outpatient care. Outpatient care allows clients to receive care without neglecting their responsibilities at home. It also tends to be significantly more affordable than higher levels of care.

Start Your Meth Recovery Journey Today

People use meth to escape from things in life. If you or a loved one are thinking of seeking treatment for substance abuse such as meth addiction but have questions, call us at 866-881-1184. Methamphetamine abusers are putting themselves at risk for meth use disorder. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to assist you with addiction treatment for crystal meth. You can stop using meth, we can help. 

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
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