A drug addict closing a bag of meth.

How Meth Affects the Immune System

It is no great surprise that methamphetamine is bad for your health. Multiple studies have shown that the drug attacks the body in a number of ways: from destroying organ performance to eroding dental hygiene to deteriorating neurological functioning, meth assaults the human body in a variety of extremely effective manners.

But even with all of this existing knowledge, it appears that recent studies have indicated yet another way in which meth is detrimental to those abusing the substance. There is mounting evidence that methamphetamine increases a person’s susceptibility to infection by crippling immune system functioning and facilitating disease transmission.

While the physical dangers of meth have been shown for decades, understanding how the drug negatively impacts the immune system is newer to researchers, but quickly proving to be just as detrimental as all previous knowledge concerning the illicit substance.1

The Negative Effects of Meth

Habitual meth use has a wide variety of negative effects on the human body. This is due to the drug’s ability to destroy human tissue and blood vessels, completely inhibiting the body’s ability to naturally repair itself. In the short-term, this results in:

  • Erratic sleep patterns and extreme bouts of insomnia
  • Complete loss of appetite resulting in severe nutrition deficiencies
  • Bizarre and sometimes violent behaviors
  • Hallucinations, excessive amounts of panic, and potential psychosis
  • Seizures and even death from overdose

While these typical symptoms associated with the use of meth can seem terrifying to most, to a meth addict, they quickly become a normal part of their daily lives. And although the short-term effects are so obviously destructive, the long-term effects carry even more impactful and alarming consequences.

They include:

  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels within the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, stroke and death
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Psychological dependence on the substance
  • Damage to the brain, similar to Alzheimer’s disease 2

Meth and the Immune System

With the recent resurgence of meth use around the country, researchers have begun to focus on the effects methamphetamine has on the immune system and how habitual use dramatically effects the body’s ability to fend off disease causing bacteria and viruses.

In particular, recent studies have shown methamphetamine to suppress killer T-cells, a type of white blood cell that fights off pathogens. This negative impact on T-cell memory population and T-cell activation has the ability to leave a meth addict unable to initiate a sufficient immune response to a number of infectious diseases.

Additionally, meth’s ability to dry out mucosal membranes and cause abrasions in the mouth and rectum might increase an addict’s vulnerability to debilitating infections without the ability to naturally fend off the experienced illness.

This is directly related to a meth addict’s increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne pathogens due to their addictive behaviors and drug administration routes.3

Skin Infections from Meth Use

In addition to the identified physical toll that meth use can have on various organs, teeth and immune system, habitual meth use can also deteriorate an addict’s skin and overall complexion. This is due in part to the toxic chemical compounds found in the substance as well as the compulsive behaviors habitual use induces in an addict.

Both short-term and long-term meth use can lead an individual to pick at their skin due to experienced compulsions often associated with delusions, psychosis, and even the feeling that bugs are crawling under the skin.

This picking and scratching can lead to infected wounds and sores, exacerbated by both the addiction and physical deterioration caused by the substance. Factor in decreased skin elasticity and excessive acne associated with meth addiction and an addict can fully expect to experience unhealthy skin texture and a deteriorating overall complexion.

The fact of the matter is that meth use has an extensive history of negative effects on the human body and an even longer saga of destroying the lives of those habitually using the toxic substance. Whether a person is casually abusing the drug or experiencing a full-blown addiction, the consequences associated with meth use can destroy them both mentally and physically.

Life-Changing, Holistic Meth Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Undoing the damage of meth addiction can be messy, extremely uncomfortable and some of the hardest work you do in your life. But, in order to have a life worth living, your addiction must end.

Your mind and body need significant attention and care during meth addiction treatment.

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your successful recovery and sober re-entry into society is our utmost mission.

At our holistic recovery center, our meth treatment program delivers all-encompassing methodologies of medical and physical treatment, psychology, holistic and experiential therapies, and preparation to forge the drug free future you desire.

Learn more about our meth addiction treatment program to start your journey toward detox and recovery.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.


1 The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunity. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290678/.

2 PBS Frontline. How Meth Destroys the Body. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/.

3 PLOS ONE. Methamphetamine Administration Targets Multiple Immune Subsets and Induces Phenotypic Alterations Suggestive of Immunosuppression. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049897.

A businessman sits on the curb with his head and arms resting on his knees.

How Do I Know If My Loved One is Addicted to Meth?

The act of Googling, “What are meth addiction signs?” probably has you feeling sick to your stomach, sending an all-consuming wave of nausea through your body.

The disease of addiction is a cold-hearted monster that destroys goals and dreams, tears apart families, and fundamentally changes the physical and chemical makeup of an addict’s mind and body.

Meth – one of the most volatile illicit drugs on the black market – is a cataclysm in and of itself. When a loved one begins to behave and look differently, and your mind worries drugs are to blame, the time is now to get to the bottom of what’s really going on.

Helping a meth addict starts by understanding the signs and symptoms of meth addiction and knowing where to turn to get your loved one the life-changing and life-saving help they need.

What is Meth Addiction?

When an individual becomes addicted to methamphetamine, their entire life is seemingly flipped on its head. Meth – also known as crystal, ice, glass, or crank – chemically alters the brain’s processes and fundamentally seizes control over every action, mood and behavior.

Meth addicts typically begin to neglect personal, familial and professional responsibilities, as they begin to spend most of their time obsessing over the substance and working hard to keep an optimal supply.

  • Individuals who are addicted to meth will more than likely find themselves in financial, health or legal troubles because of their addiction.
  • Individuals who are addicted to meth will develop a chemical dependency that inhibits them from ending all meth use on their own.
  • Individuals who are addicted to meth tend to act irresponsibly and do whatever it takes to get their next fix.
  • Individuals who are addicted to meth can make loved ones feel as if everything is alright by denying they have a problem or downplaying the extent of their substance use.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

It’s important to note that meth affects every individual in different ways. For the most part, however, the following meth addiction signs and symptoms will help you make sense of your loved one’s physical, mental and behavioral states.

Early detection of any drug use, abuse, or addiction plays a vital role in stopping the damage before it inflicts real impairment on your loved one’s mind and body, or, worse, claims their life altogether.

Meth Addiction Signs: Paraphernalia Used by Meth Addicts

Meth is made from all kinds of deadly chemicals, with the most popular being from fertilizer, batteries, and engine starter fluid. Meth can be smoked, injected or snorted and is most commonly known as a “cheap party drug.”

For consumption, several tools are used among meth users. It’s common for users and addicts to hide their equipment and thoroughly clean up after themselves to hide any evidence of their substance problem.

If you find any of the following tools or equipment, it’s time to talk with your loved one about their meth (or other drug) use:

  • Cut straws and empty ink pens – These tools are used to snort or smoke meth.
  • Tin foil and aluminum cans – These tools are used to smoke meth. Take special note if you find blackened tin foil and pin-sized holes in aluminum cans.
  • Glass and home-made pipes – These tools are used to smoke meth. Look for long, glass cylinders with bulbous ends. A used meth pipe will have black burn marks on the underside of the end. Additionally, once smoked, meth will leave a waxy, yellowish residue in the pipe.
  • Needles and syringes – These tools are used to inject meth. *This method of consumption has the highest risk of overdose and contracting HIV or hepatitis if needles are shared.
  • Small sandwich bags with residue – These are used to store meth. Meth residue will look like a crystalline powder with an off-white or light brown coloring, or it may appear as chunky pieces of clear, broken glass.

Physical, Mental & Behavioral Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Meth promises a high unlike any other, but what addicts truly get from meth use is a dependent mind and body that is crumbling from the inside-out and the outside-in.

Here are the most prominent symptoms of meth addiction:

Physical & Mental Meth Addiction Signs

• Dilated pupils
• Increased breathing rate
• Chest pain
• Flushed or itchy skin
• Changes in physical appearance
• Unhealthy & drastic weight loss
• Rapidly aged physical appearance
• Loss of teeth
• Severe tooth decay and gum disease
• Damage to blood vessels
• Irregular heartbeat

Long-term use can lead to:

• Lung disease
• Brain disease
• Heart attacks
• Heart disease
• Strokes
• Coma
• Death

Behavioral Meth Addiction Signs

• Confusion
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Picking at skin or hair
• Rapid eye movement
• Decreased appetite
• Anger and aggression
• Hyperactivity
• Overly talkative
• Increased distractibility
• Grandiose behavior
• Twitching
• Loss of consciousness
• Hallucinations and paranoia
• Depression and suicide attempts

What to Do When Your Loved One is Addicted to Meth

An addiction develops from continued meth use at increasingly higher doses. This builds an individual’s tolerance level and, in turn, gives rise to dependency.

Because of the severity and dangers associated with the detox and withdrawal process, meth addiction treatment should always come from medical and addiction experts in a well-established and clinically sound rehab facility.

But helping an addict is never as easy as signing them up for treatment and meeting them at the end when they are sober. Unfortunately, it’s much harder and more painful than that – for the addict and loved one.

The hard part about being a support person in the addiction process is your loved one must acknowledge their addiction and want to get help before any rehab process can start.

Helping an addict starts with a calm, well-composed conversation about their drug use and your continued support for them. Always remember that with the right support, there is hope and your loved one can return to the clean, thriving individual they were before meth entered their life.

Life-Changing, Holistic Meth Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

As your loved one’s biggest advocate, we understand how crucial it is for you to help your loved one get clean and stay sober. If they are ready to get help, or you are seeking insights from addiction recovery experts, Ranch Creek Recovery can help.

We go beyond the normal twelve-step program and focus on tailor-fitting each treatment program to address each patient’s unique needs. It’s about individualization and holistic treatment at Ranch Creek, and your loved one can discover a new beginning here.

Learn more about our meth addiction treatment program.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

Examining the Impacts of Opiates on the Brain

Opiates are extremely addictive substances that can have a lasting impact on your brain chemistry. This video from HBO can help you achieve a better understanding of how opiates affect the brain.

The video starts with an explanation of how opiates change your brain’s natural chemistry. Though opiates are powerful pain relievers, those who take prescription opiates can become addicted and eventually experience the numerous physical and emotional effects that come with opiate abuse.


Ranch Creek Recovery can help your loved one on the path to a full recovery from opiate abuse. Contact us at (951) 795-4326 if you notice the symptoms of opiate addiction in a friend or family member. Professional addiction treatment is just a phone call away.