Understanding the Feelings Associated with a Meth High

Meth Effects Change Your Perceptions, Feelings, and Sensations

effects of being high on meth
Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

The meth high, also known as "methamphetamine intoxication," is one of the most widely recognized effects among meth users. It is often the main reason for taking meth for people who are experimenting with meth use, binge meth users, and people in the early stages of meth addiction.

The Meth High

Like any addictive substance, getting high on meth can give the user feelings of pleasure, confidence, and energy beyond what they normally experience. On the flip side, it can also have very unpleasant and even harmful short-term and long-term effects.

The meth high involves physical changes and psychological changes to how the person thinks and feels. Some of these changes are caused by the effects of meth on the brain and nervous system, and some are due to personal feelings that the meth user brings to the experience. This is why, although there are similarities among meth users' experiences of meth effects, the effect meth has on each person is different.

Although aspects of meth intoxication are common among meth users, they may experience some, but not all, of these effects.

Euphoria or Emotional Blunting

The effect that meth users are looking for is a kind of intense pleasure called euphoria. Euphoria is the enticing feeling that underlies the development of addictions for most people who experience them, and is typically the reason that most recreational drug users take these substances. Meth stimulates the brain in the same way that a real accomplishment does, creating a rewarding feeling that motivates people who get addicted to meth to want to do it again and again.

In contrast, some meth users find that their emotions are "blunted." This means that they become less aware of their feelings. This can sometimes be a motivating factor for meth users who want to escape from painful memories or difficult life circumstances. although, of course, the escape is temporary, and frequently problems are worsened by substance use.

Research shows that many people who become addicted to meth suffered from childhood abuse. One of the ironies of meth addiction is the tendency for meth addicts to seek out more meth to escape the negative emotions about problems resulting from their meth use. The feeling of not caring anymore can provide temporary relief for someone burdened by stress and worries.

Disorganization and even chaos can quickly escalate in the lives of meth users, as they are becoming addicted. Over time, meth use can get in the way of people taking proper care of themselves. They may not be aware of how they appear to others, and may stop doing basic self care activities, such as brushing their teeth. Severe tooth decay, commonly called "meth mouth" in such individuals, can result. This emotional blunting, or not caring, can interfere with caring about and for many things that matter to healthy adults, sometimes even including taking care of kids, going to work or school, and paying the bills.

Sense of Empowerment Which Can Lead to Aggression

While under the influence of meth, users can have the illusion of being more powerful and productive than usual, and, than they actually are. Although this can feel good to the meth user, it can cause real  problems. Meth can make people feel more socially outgoing, talkative and self-confident. But equally, they can behave bizarrely and become distant from positive social relationships, and not realize they may appear ridiculous to others. Many meth users become surrounded by other meth users and lose contact with outside supports.

Meth can have the effect of making people delusional. Their grasp on reality changes and can become damaged or eroded. Sometimes they might feel superior to or better than other people (sometimes called grandiosity), but they can also become anxious, paranoid and aggressive.

One of the problems with being high on meth is the lack of awareness of how you actually appear and how you are behaving, something that meth users in recovery are able to reflect on after the fact.

Physical Stimulation or Tweaking

Being high on meth also makes people feel different physically. Physical meth effects include a general feeling of stimulation. Meth can cause changes to heart rhythm or breathing, sweating, feelings of being very hot or cold, or nausea and vomiting.

Although some of these physical symptoms of meth intoxication can be quite unpleasant, with repeated meth use, the brain can start to associate these physical symptoms with the pleasurable feelings of the meth high. So, as people become addicted to meth, they may be surprisingly tolerant of these unpleasant meth effects.

Stimulation comes with a price. It is difficult to sleep on meth, and sleep deprivation can worsen mental health problems such as anxiety, delusions, and hallucinations. People on meth can get very fidgety, known as "tweaking," and have a tendency to imagine bugs crawling on their skin, which they repetitively pick at. This leads to open wounds that later scar, known as "meth sores," which are a characteristic of severe meth abusers.

If meth intoxication is taken to the extreme, the experience can be dangerous as well as unpleasant. In particular, there is a risk of heart problems, seizures, and even death.

Women on Meth

Meth is unusual among illicit drugs in that almost as many women as men use it; most drugs and alcohol are taken by many times more men than women. One of the reasons women are attracted to meth is that it releases extra energy and suppresses appetite Initially, women can feel more attractive as they lose weight. This can make women feel better about themselves, as there is so much pressure on women both to look attractive, and to be thin.

Although people's physical appearance deteriorates when they become addicted to meth (along with their health), the initial feeling of being in control and losing weight can make people feel good. And because meth users lack awareness of changes to their physical appearance, they may not realize when they start looking worse. Although women might initially feel they appear better because they lose some weight and gain energy, especially if others comment on their weight loss, their self awareness may be seriously deteriorated by the time they lose so much weight that is makes them look worse, and they may even overlook their own scabby skin and missing teeth, instead focusing on the lack of fat on their bodies.

Sexual Effects of Meth

Meth is also sexually stimulating, although it can also lead to sexual dysfunction and a loss of sexual libido. The sexual effects of meth can be attractive to people who have sex addictions, or who are involved in sex work. Considerable attention has been paid to use of meth in the gay community, commonly known as party and play or PnP, particularly in relation to sexual enhancement effects, with particular concern to the implications for HIV and other STD risks.

Dosage Problems

Because meth is produced in clandestine or home labs, there is no way to predict how toxic it is or how strong it is going to be. This can sometimes lead to meth users taking more than they intended, and the meth high taking a turn for the worst. A stronger dose can also increase tolerance so that next time more of the drug is needed to get the same high, and if you stop, withdrawal is more intense, which is the physical side of the addiction.

Avoiding Problems

If you're aware of the risks of meth use, you may be wondering why anyone would use such a dangerous drug. If you feel peer pressure to try meth, you may want to know what your friends aren't telling you about meth effects. If you know someone who uses meth, understanding how it feels may help you to approach and communicate effectively with that person.

Many meth users are reluctant to stop doing something that feels good, even when they know it's bad for them. The best way to stay out of that trap of addiction is to avoid drug use altogether. If someone you know has become addicted to meth, there are some ways to help them.

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