What Does Meth Feel Like?
Methamphetamine (meth) use in the Washington state area has been increasing over the past ten years. According to recent data, most counties in the state have seen significant increases in deaths related to meth. Additionally, meth remains the most commonly found drug submitted for testing by law enforcement officials. Before 2021, it was found in more than 60% of drug repossession cases.
Meth, also known as crystal meth, is a powerful stimulant that can impact people’s thinking, behavior, and physical and mental health. Understanding how a person who is addicted to meth thinks and feels can be a good starting point for helping them get treatment.
How Meth Addicts Think and Feel
It’s important to understand how meth affects how a person thinks and feels. When they are “high”, a person addicted to meth may feel:
- Euphoria (an elevated sense of pleasure)
- High energy levels
- Increased confidence
- Increased productivity
- Sense of power
- Paranoia (suspicion and anxiety about people trusting people around them)
What Does Meth Do to You?
Meth increases the amount of dopamine, a chemical messenger, in the brain. Dopamine affects body movement, motivation and pleasure and reward areas of the brain. The large increase of dopamine in the reward areas of the brain along with the stimulant effects of meth can make a person who uses meth want to repeat their “high” over and over again.
Even small doses can have an effect on a person’s health. Short-term meth effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Elevated body temperature
- Faster breathing
- Feeling awake
- High blood pressure
- Increased attention
- Increased physical activity
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
The continued use of meth can have serious long-term effects, such as:
- Dental problems (“meth mouth”)
- Itching and skin sores from scratching
- Memory loss
- Violent behavior
What Does a Meth High Feel Like?
People who are high on meth might feel extremely alert and aroused. Some people will feel confused or paranoid, and they may also experience disinhibition. Physically, since it’s a stimulant, meth causes your body’s systems to be more active. How someone uses meth can affect how fast and intense the high is. Smoking meth or injecting it immediately leads to a rapid, intense high, for example.
The Initial Rush
The initial rush of meth is what occurs almost right away. During this rush, physical and mental changes occur. While some people might feel euphoric, other people experience emotional blunting. Emotional blunting is when a person is less aware of their feelings. The initial rush occurs immediately and can last up to 20 minutes after use. If someone swallows or snorts meth, they will experience a high, but not the intense initial rush that comes with smoking or injecting it.
The high is when someone using meth might feel like they’re smarter, better or more powerful than other people. The high a person experiences when they use meth lasts about 18 to 24 hours. Often a person who uses meth will keep using meth over and over for a short period of time to maintain a high. This leads to a binge phase. A meth binge can last a few days or extend over a couple of weeks. When someone develops a physical tolerance, it becomes harder and harder to experience the rush phase of using meth. Each meth use causes a smaller rush and a smaller high until eventually the person who is using meth feels no rush or high.
After a person who uses meth no longer experiences the rush and high from meth use, tweaking may occur. Tweaking is a period of extreme discomfort. During the tweaking phase, people who use meth may experience nervousness and irritability. They may become paranoid and have hallucinations. A feeling like insects under the skin often leads to scratching, a well-recognized sign of tweaking. Obsessive scratching leads to the sores that people who use meth may have on their skin. During the tweaking phase, some people may become obsessed with a thought or activity. Tweaking lasts until a person becomes so exhausted they can not stay awake and they crash. During the crash, a person may sleep for 1 to 3 days.
How Long Does a Meth High Last?
Different factors, such as, how and when someone uses meth play a role in how long a meth high lasts. For example, the person that injects or snorts meth will experience a faster high than someone who smokes meth. In general, the high from smoking meth can last 18 to 24 hours.
What Do Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Feel Like?
The meth withdrawal process can start as soon as someone stops using the drug. On average, 50% of meth is removed from the body in 6 to 15 hours. With any substance, withdrawal symptoms occur as the body tries to adjust to no longer having it present. Physical symptoms may last for a shorter period than psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, paranoia and aggression, which can last for weeks or months.
There are two phases of withdrawal from meth. The initial phase occurs within 24 hours after the last use. This is the most intense period of withdrawal. During the peak withdrawal phase, withdrawal symptoms might include fatigue and increased appetite as well as irritability, depression and anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms during this phase of withdrawal decrease over a period of 7 to 10 days.
Following the acute phase, there is a period of less intense withdrawal symptoms referred to as the subacute phase. The subacute phase typically lasts for at least another 2 weeks.
Meth Addiction Treatment in Ridgefield, WA
When someone struggles with meth addiction, it can take over their entire life. Meth is a powerful drug with potentially long-lasting mental and physical health effects. But, recovery is possible with meth addiction treatment.
The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers an onsite detox center for those experiencing meth withdrawal symptoms. After detox, our facility offers a full range of care options to meet your individual needs. Care at The Recovery Village Ridgefield may include inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, contact an intake specialist at The Recovery Village Ridgefield to learn more about our programs and how you can start the recovery process.
- University of Washington Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute. “Methamphetamine trends across Washington state.” 2021. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine misuse?” October 2019. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine DrugFacts.” May 2019. Accessed July 25, 2022.
- Illinois Department of Human Services. “Facts You Should Know About Methamphetamines (METH).” Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Know the Risks of Meth.” July 6, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- McGregor, Catherine; et al. “The nature, time course and severity of methamphetamine withdrawal.” Addiction, July 15, 2005. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Richards, JR; et al. “Methamphetamine Toxicity.” StatPearls, May 1, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.