How does methamphetamine make you feel?
The way methamphetamine — or any other drug — affects you
depends on many factors, including:
- your age and your body weight
- how much you take and how often you take it
- how long you’ve been taking it
- the method you use to take the drug
- the environment you’re in
- whether or not you have certain pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions
- if you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illicit, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal).
Immediately after smoking methamphetamine or injecting it
into a vein, the user experiences an intense surge of euphoria, called a “rush”
or “flash.” Snorting methamphetamine produces effects within three to five
minutes; swallowing in about 15–20 minutes.
Methamphetamine makes people feel alert and energetic,
confident and talkative. They feel little need for food or sleep. On the other
hand, users are also likely to feel the many unwanted effects of the drug,
including racing of the heart, chest pain, dryness of the mouth, nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea and physical tension. Many report an anxious “wired”
feeling of restlessness and irritability. The negative effects of
methamphetamine can be extreme and alarming, including paranoid delusions,
hallucinations, aggressive behaviour and impulsive violence.
How long does the feeling last?
When methamphetamine is injected or taken by mouth, the
effects of the drug last about six to eight hours. Smoking methamphetamine may
produce effects that last from 10–12 hours. After the effects of the drug have
worn off, users are left feeling tired and depressed. Some use the drug
continuously over a period of days or weeks in a “binge and crash” pattern,
inviting serious health risks and leading to drug addiction.
Is methamphetamine addictive?
Yes. Tolerance to the effects of methamphetamine builds up
quickly in regular users, meaning they need more and more of the drug to
achieve the desired effect. When addicted users stop taking methamphetamine,
they have strong cravings for the drug, and within a few days will experience
withdrawal symptoms, including stomach pain, hunger, headaches, shortness of
breath, tiredness and depression.
Is methamphetamine dangerous?
Yes. Methamphetamine causes the heart to beat faster and
blood pressure to rise. Since what is sold as methamphetamine varies widely in
terms of content and purity, users can’t know how much they are taking. An overdose of methamphetamine can result in
seizures, high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke and
death. The risk of overdose is highest when the drug is injected.
Injecting methamphetamine also puts the user at risk of
infections from used needles or impurities in the drug, and of hepatitis or HIV
if they share needles with others.
Using methamphetamine during pregnancy can cause the baby to
be born prematurely and to have a low birth weight.
Driving or operating machinery while under the influence of
methamphetamine, or any drug, increases the risk of physical injury to the user,
and increases the risk of injury to others.
What are the long-term effects of using methamphetamine?
When methamphetamine is used regularly over a long period of
time, people can develop amphetamine psychosis. The symptoms of amphetamine
psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and bizarre and violent
Regular use of methamphetamine can also result in:
- severe tooth decay (meth mouth)
- meth “bugs,” or the feeling of bugs under the skin, leading
to skin-picking and sores
- loss of appetite, weight loss
- difficulty sleeping
- increased risk of heart disease and stroke
- increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Research in animals and humans suggests that
methamphetamine may cause long-term damage to cells in those areas of the brain
associated with thinking, memory and movement. Further research is needed to
determine if these effects are permanent.
Copyright © 2003, 2012 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health