People who struggle with meth addiction chase euphoric highs that help them avoid negative feelings and suffer withdrawal symptoms that can drastically change their behavior.
Article at a Glance:
- People who abuse methamphetamine or “meth” seek its intense rush that produces high energy, focus and euphoria.
- They may be driven by intense cravings for meth or want an escape from worry, stress or negative feelings.
- A person addicted to meth may lie, steal or manipulate others to get more meth and avoid difficult withdrawal symptoms from a meth crash.
- Often, people who use meth are unaware of the negative impact meth has on themselves or the people they love. Entering treatment and recovery is an important step to thinking outside the drug’s influence.
Understanding How A Meth Addict Thinks and Feels
Understanding how a meth addict thinks and feels can be valuable if you have a loved one dealing with meth addiction. You might not necessarily understand what it feels like to be addicted to meth, but you can glean some insight into the nature of addiction. It can help you see that when the person lashes out, lies or steals, it’s not a personal attack against you. Instead, it’s a symptom of their disease.
What It’s Like to Be High on Meth
When someone is high on meth, there are physical and physiological changes that occur. Many of the changes that happen regarding how the person feels and behaves result from how the drug impacts the brain and the nervous system.
The Initial Rush
When people take meth, they may initially experience euphoria because meth stimulates the brain’s reward system. It’s that stimulation of reward centers that motivates people to continue using meth.
Along with euphoric brain stimulation, there’s also a sense of blunted emotions when you take meth. People on meth may not experience feelings as they would ordinarily, so they may actually like this feeling because it can help them escape from bad memories or emotional pain they experience when they’re sober. Meth can become not just a way to get high, but a way to escape from worry, stress, and negative feelings.
In a recent survey of meth users, the high was ranked the number one reason people used meth, and coping with mental health symptoms ranked in the top three.
During the high, which can last anywhere from 4–16 hours, the user will start to feel a sense of power or that they’re capable of more than they really are. That can manifest in sociability as an example, but also as delusional aggression.
Often users lack any sense of self-awareness. It’s not usually until a person is in the recovery phase of their addiction that they’re even able to recognize their behaviors and the effects on the people around them.
Meth use can lead to tweaking, which is very fidgety behaviors and sensations such as bugs crawling on the skin. That’s why people addicted to meth often have scabs and sores on their faces and areas of their bodies.
At this level of use, people may report extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and delusional thinking. They may become violently aggressive due to their psychotic symptoms.
In a recent study, 15.7% of meth users reported experiencing hallucinations long-term, even if they stopped use, and heavy meth users increased their odds of experiencing hallucinations by 50%.
Understanding the Effects of Withdrawal on a Meth Addict’s Behavior
People addicted to drugs often think only about their next fix of the drug. They have tunnel vision because of how their brain reacts to the drug, and they crave it. Their thoughts and actions are often solely dedicated to obtaining more of the drug, and they will do anything necessary.
When people no longer have the ability to get more meth or the energy to use more meth, the crash occurs, marking the onset of methamphetamine withdrawal.
The symptoms of meth crashing include:
- Low energy and extreme fatigue
- Long periods of sleep or inability to sleep
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Intense depression and anxiety
- Increased appetite and thirst, usually due to limited eating and drinking during a “run”
- Intense cravings for more meth
Some withdrawal symptoms are more common than others: current and former meth users reported fatigue (57%) and sleep problems (52%) most often, followed by increased depression and anxiety (both 41%) and appetite issues (36%).
These unwanted effects are why addicted people often lie, cheat and steal. They may engage in illegal behaviors outside of drug use as a means to get more. They’re usually unable to recognize the pain and harm they’re causing themselves and the people around them because of their addiction.
Someone addicted to meth or other drugs will not only lie and mislead people, but they may manipulate them. Someone who was once loving and caring may start to manipulate the people closest to them to facilitate their continued drug use. They’ll feed on the concern and love of their family members. They may even beg and try to plead with loved ones and make promises they have no intention of keeping. It can take a long time before their loved ones accept that this is, in fact, manipulation.
Change Starts With Treatment and Recovery
In many cases, it’s nearly impossible for a person struggling with meth addiction to think outside of the drug and their addiction until they receive help and are in treatment or recovery. If you have a loved one who’s struggling with meth addiction, help is here. Our addiction experts offer evidence-based medical care that can help them start the road to recovery. Contact us today to discuss how our personalized treatment programs can meet your needs.
American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition.” 2013. Accessed April 11, 2021.
Department of Justice/ Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drug Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine.” April 2020. Accessed April 11, 2021
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Research Report Series: Methamphetamine.” October 2019. Accessed April 11, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine DrugFacts.” May 2019. Accessed April 11, 2021.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” October 2015. Accessed April 11, 2021.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.