Use, Abuse, and Dependence on Meth Explained

Is There a Difference Between Use, Abuse, and Dependence on Meth?

Meth is among the physically addictive substances that are commonly abused. A national survey conducted in 2012 showed that 440,000 people reported abusing meth within the last 30 days. When an individual has formed a dependence on meth, every aspect of their life can be transformed into a negative situation, including their health, mental well-being, their family, work and the social elements of their life. Without treatment, crystal meth dependence is expected to become progressively worse.

The terms use, abuse and dependence are often used to describe the way a person uses a drug such as meth, but what exactly is the difference between these commonly used terms? In this article, we will define the terms in order to better understand the differences and when meth addiction treatment is necessary.

Meth Use

Amphetamine was first introduced as a way to increase alertness, decrease apatite and widen airways, enabling it to treat colds, allergies and asthma. Due to the addictive properties, amphetamines were categorized as a controlled substance to prevent abuse. Subsequently, methamphetamines came onto the market, which was derived from amphetamines. People began using and abusing it for the same reasons and it too became a controlled substance.

Meth is a type of drug that a person can become dependent on quickly if used outside of the very limited medical use for which a prescription is required. Therefore, no amount of non-medical use of meth is considered to be safe.

Meth Abuse

If a person uses crystal meth recreationally or in a way that isn’t according to a physician’s prescription, then it is considered to be abuse of meth. Such abuse, especially if done in an attempt to cope with problems in a person’s life, can become an addiction and dependence on meth in a very short time.

Dependence on Meth and Addiction

Abuse, dependence and addiction are all categorized under the same term known as a substance use disorder (SUD). Dependence on meth is a condition that forms when an individual repeatedly abuses meth. As they abuse the drug, their body changes to cope with the ever-present drug in their system. Eventually, without the presence of meth, the body is left in this altered state and withdrawal symptoms occur. Crystal meth dependence then causes the person to crave more of the drug in order to deal with the intense withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction on the other hand is a condition that can form even with a substance that isn’t physically addictive. One of the most common causes of addiction is a person who uses a drug for psychological reason, such as using meth to deal with stress and escape problems. Dependence and addiction often go hand-in-hand.

Meth Addiction Treatment

Regardless of whether a person abuses meth or has formed an addiction or dependence on the drug, addiction treatment is often the most effective way to deal with the problem.

The initial help that a rehab can provide comes in the form of a medical detox – a detoxification where medications are used to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. A medical detox can make the process of withdrawal far easier and it can also help to prevent relapse. However, detox is just a first step in the process of recovery because addiction is a relapsing disease. In order to prevent relapse, an addict must go through therapy, addiction education and be taught the skills they need to prevent a relapse from happening.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.