Methamphetamine (Meth)

Methamphetamine is illegal, addictive, and dangerous. It is often manufactured as a white, bitter-tasting powder or pill or fragments that look like glass or bluish-white rocks. It can be injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally.

What you should know

Northwest Wisconsin experienced a surge in methamphetamine use and addiction in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

State laws enacted in the mid-2000s restricted access to substances used to produce methamphetamine in home labs. Yet, in recent years, Wisconsin has seen a new surge in methamphetamine use and addiction. Abuse of this drug has spread to the southern and eastern parts of the state.

It is growing in popularity because it is less expensive and it has a longer euphoric effect than other illegal stimulants. Today, the majority of the methamphetamine available in Wisconsin is produced in Mexico and transported here by drug-trafficking organizations.

If you see methamphetamine use, report it to law enforcement. Call 800-622-3784.

The truth about methamphetamine

Methamphetamine affects your brain. Meth causes changes in the brain circuits that control reward, stress, decision-making, and impulse control, making it more and more difficult to stop using even when it is having negative effects on your life and health. Frequent use also can lead to tolerance and withdrawal, so you need more of the drug to feel normal. Additional effects of using meth can include anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue, paranoid or delusional thinking, and serious psychological issues.

Methamphetamine affects your body. Meth use increases heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. Other negative consequences of long-term meth use are extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, and skin sores caused by scratching. Meth use affects the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It affects, among other things, movement, motivation, emotions, and feelings of pleasure. Because meth causes a flood of dopamine to the brain, the natural supply gets depleted. Thus, activities that would increase pleasure may no longer do so. This can lead to depression.

Methamphetamine affects your self-control. Meth can cause aggression, violent behavior, and loss of contact with reality.

Methamphetamine affects more than the user. Meth use impacts the user's family and friends. Children found in meth labs may experience emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. The chemicals used to produce meth can cause fires and explosions, produce toxic vapors, and damage the environment.

Visit the KNOW METH website for more information about the health and safety risks of manufacturing and using methamphetamine. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is a sponsor of the KNOW METH campaign.

Know Meth Logo



Signs of methamphetamine use

It is not easy to tell if someone is using methamphetamine, but symptoms may include:

  • Inability to sleep or unusual sleep patterns
  • Psychotic behaviors such as paranoia and hallucinations
  • Mood swings or increased aggression
  • Nervous obsessive activities, such as scratching
  • Irritability, anxiety, or confusion
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Changes in physical appearance, including deteriorating skin and teeth

Buying meds to make meth? Know the consequences.

Retailers of cold and allergy medications containing ingredients used to make meth record information on each sale. This helps police identify suspicious purchases. Purchasing these medicines for someone who is using these medicines to make meth is a felony. You can be arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to prison. 

Find help

Treatment can help someone stop using methamphetamine and recover from addiction. If this is an emergency and you need help now, call 911. Pregnant women are given priority in treatment admissions.

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline logo without 211 number

Free and confidential service available 24/7. 

Regional treatment centers

Hope Consortium
Call 844-305-4673

Ladysmith Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center
Call 715-532-2373 

Lake Superior Community Health Center
Call 715-395-5380

HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and Libertas Treatment Center
Call 715-735-0095

NorthLakes Community Clinic
Call 888-834-4551

Methamphetamine laboratories: Human health hazards and cleanup

Do not enter an active methamphetamine lab. Contact local law enforcement immediately. Learn more about the human health hazards of manufacturing methamphetamine and the cleanup of these labs.

Last Revised: November 25, 2020