What Does a Meth High Feel Like?

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Methamphetamine, also referred to as meth, is a strong and powerful stimulant substance. Meth, and other stimulants, speed up the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. Meth is illegal for recreational purposes but it can be used for medical purposes, making it a Schedule II substance. (1) Meth is extremely addictive and can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Approximately 2.5 million individuals reported that they engaged in meth use in 2021. (2) Approximately 1.6 million individuals were diagnosed with methamphetamine use disorder the same year. (3)

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How Methamphetamine Affect the Brain & Body

The way that meth interacts with the brain and body helps maintain the cycle of addiction. Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally found in the brain involved in rewarding behaviors and the brain’s reward system. (4) Over time, meth use can cause the brain to no longer produce dopamine on its own, solely relying on the meth high for the neurotransmitter. This leads to an individual engaging in meth use in order to experience rapid releases of dopamine. (5) This leads to an individual developing a physical and psychological dependence on meth.

Stages of a Meth High

What does meth feel like? Well this depends on the current stage that a user is experiencing. A meth high can be separated into 4 different stages.

The stages of a meth high include: (6)

  • Rush stage.
  • High stage.
  • Binge stage.
  • Crash stage.

Rush Stage

The rush stage is the body’s initial response to smoking or injecting methamphetamine. This  stage can last for up to 30 minutes, though it can last for as little as 5. This stage is caused by the flooding of dopamine in the brain. This is the stage where the pupils begin to dilate and blood pressure elevates.

High Stage

The high stage begins after the rush stage. This stage can last for 4 to 16 hours. An individual in this stage of a meth high is often hyperactive, argumentative, aggressive, and may engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Binge Stage

The binge stage consists of an individual engaging in uncontrollable meth use. In order to maintain the high sensation, meth is injected and smoked continuously during this stage. Each time that more meth is ingested, a small rush is experienced. This is continued until the rush and high ceases. This stage can last 3 to 15 days. Hyperactivity is present during this stage.

Crash Stage

The crash stage occurs once the body shuts down. Sleep is increased heavily during this stage. This stage can last 1 to 3 days.

Following the crash, a meth hangover can occur. (7) A meth hangover is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion. The meth hangover often reinforces addiction as an individual may feel the only way to relieve the negative feelings is to continue using.

Psychological & Emotional Effects of a Meth High

What does a meth high feel like psychologically? Psychologically and emotionally, an individual experiences temporary feelings of euphoria following a meth high. Using meth chronically or for extended periods of time can lead to changes in the brain involved with emotions. (8)

Psychological and emotional effects of meth include: (9)

  • Psychotic behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression

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Physical Effects That Are Commonly Felt From Being High on Meth

In addition to psychological effects, a meth high can produce physical effects. The way that meth impacts the brain’s reward system can lead to reduced coordination and difficulties with verbal learning. (10)

Physical effects associated from meth use include: (11)

  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Breathing faster than usual
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Meth mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Increased blood pressure

Meth use has also been found to impact the transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDs.

Duration of Sensations & Effects of a Meth High

The temporary effects of meth, such as the high sensation and feelings of euphoria, can  typically last for 6 to 12 hours. Additional short-term symptoms, such as dilated pupils, decreased appetite, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure can range in duration from several hours to a few days following last use. Long-term effects of meth use can last for days to years following last use. Long-term symptoms are often unpleasant and can lead to serious health complications. Due to it being a chronic condition, the symptoms of addiction to methamphetamine can last for years.

Do Methods of Use Affect What Meth Use Feels Like?

Meth can be ingested in different ways. It can be smoked, snorted, swallowed as a pill, and injected intravenously. When injected, meth powder is dissolved in water or alcohol. Smoking or injecting meth causes an immediate rush that only lasts for a few minutes. (12) Swallowing meth as a pill or snorting it produces a high or euphoric feeling. Swallowing or snorting meth does not result in one experiencing the rush stage and it can take several minutes before the effects are felt. (13)

Long-term Effects of Using Methamphetamines

Using meth over extended periods of time can lead to various long-term effects. Meth use can cause long lasting alterations to one’s judgment, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. (14) Tolerance, or the need to take larger amounts of a substance in order to reach the desired high can also develop due to chronic meth use. Using meth over a long period of time can also increase one’s chances of experiencing a stroke, or a meth overdose. (15) Approximately 32,537 individuals experienced a fatal overdose due to meth use and other stimulant drugs. (16)

Additional long-term effects associated with meth use include: (17)

  • Anxiety development
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Extreme dental problems
  • Extreme itchiness
  • Sores on the skin
  • Memory impairments
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Extreme distrust of others
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in brain structure
  • Changes in how the brain functions
  • Development of addiction

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  1. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  4. https://www.britannica.com/science/dopamine
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  6. https://www.dentalcare.com/en-us/ce-courses/ce332/stages-of-meth-use
  7. https://www.dentalcare.com/en-us/ce-courses/ce332/stages-of-meth-use
  8. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  9. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  10. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  11. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  12. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-misused
  13. https://www.dentalcare.com/en-us/ce-courses/ce332/stages-of-meth-use
  14. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  15. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse
  16. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
  17. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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