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Parents: What you need to know...Meth 101, The Basics

Meth is an attractive drug for many teens, and it is extremely addictive.  Whether you live on a farm, in a small town, or a larger city, Meth is easily available all across South Dakota.  And the impact of Meth can last a lifetime. 

Most parents think their children would never try a drug as dangerous as Meth.  But the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national high school survey conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the state and local schools, reveals that 2.8% of South Dakota high school students admit to having used Meth at least once in their lives.  The percentage of teen males is higher at 3.6% with 12 grade males use rate at 5%.  You might be thinking, “In South Dakota kids are safer, right?” Wrong!!!!

Comparing South Dakota teens with the rate of meth use across the United States show our teens have a slightly higher use rate.














While the majority of Meth users are in early adulthood (18-30 years old), youth as young as 14 years old have admitted to regular Meth use.  Others have become addicted to Meth, causing them to turn to criminal activity to support their addictions.  

Meth is a strongly attractive drug for many teens, and it is extremely addictive.  It is readily available across South Dakota, whether you live in a rural community or a city.  And the impact of Meth use can last a lifetime.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of Meth use in teens include:

  • Dilated pupils, dark circles or bags under their eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to noise and light
  • Increased level of self confidence and euphoria
  • "Wired" - Restless, excitable and anxious
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patterns
  • Weight loss (rapid, extreme)
  • Irritability or aggressiveness
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Dizziness or confusion, disconnected chatter
  • Complaints of chest pain, rapid breathing
  • Excessive sweating and body odor
  • Bad breath, poor dental hygiene and tooth grinding
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Hanging out with a different group of friends
  • Subtle changes in conversations and behavior with friends (use coded language, more secretive about possessions or activities)
  • Negative change in appearance, greasy hair, skin sores
  • Change in attire, clothes that highlight drug use
  • Noticeable change in values, lying, stealing, etc.
  • Increase in borrowing money or trading of possessions
  • Presence of paraphernalia

If you notice one or two of these signs, it does not necessarily mean your teen is using Meth.  But these are red flags of a serious issue.  And the more symptoms you notice, the more danger your teen is facing. 

Please note, too, that if teens use marijuana before trying Meth, the changes you observe might (at first) seem positive.  They may go from being negative and unmotivated to self-confident, energetic and positive.  They may begin to complete schoolwork and chores without their previous habit of complaining. 

It’s important to try to talk with your kids about Meth, but it’s neither enjoyable nor effective to sit them down and read a list of reasons they shouldn’t use.  Children, especially teens, tend to resist formal discussions, considering them to be just another lecture from mom and dad.  Instead, they will be a lot less likely to tune you out if you use “teachable moments” or opportunities that arise in everyday life as discussion starters.  For instance, a newspaper story about “meth mouth” can help you start a discussion on how meth damages the body.  Or, a public service TV commercial can give you an opportunity to talk about the impact of Meth use on family members. 

Whether you are watching TV or waiting in a line somewhere, seize the moment to share an important fact.  Say, “People make a lot of stupid choices when they use drugs like Meth,” or “That house is where they busted those people using meth.”

For more ideas and facts you can use to get the talk going, see “Starting the conversation…” on the back of this page.  More tips can also be found at

Information for this section was drawn from The Anti-Drug; Parenting Teens​ and "Walking the Talk" from Central CAPT