What a Meth High Feels Like

effects of being high on meth

Verywell / Joshua Seong

The high that methamphetamine users experience, also known as "methamphetamine intoxication," is often the main reason people take this dangerous drug. Those who are experimenting with meth use, regular methamphetamine users, and people in the early stages of methamphetamine addiction all crave the good feelings the drug imparts.

The Meth High

Like any addictive substance, methamphetamine 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 harmful short-term and long-term effects. The "meth high" involves both physical and psychological changes, many of which are caused by the effects of methamphetamine on the brain and nervous system. Individuals who use methamphetamine may experience some, but not necessarily all, of these effects.

Euphoria or Emotional Blunting

Euphoria is the enticing feeling that most people who are using methamphetamine come to crave. Methamphetamine stimulates the brain, creating a rewarding feeling that motivates people to want to do it again and again.

In contrast, some meth users find that their emotions are "blunted," so 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.

Research shows that many people who become addicted to methamphetamine suffered from childhood abuse. One of the ironies of methamphetamine addiction is the tendency for people with addiction to seek out more of the drug to escape their negative emotions. 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 methamphetamine users as they become addicted. Over time, meth usage 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 performing basic self-care activities, such as brushing their teeth. Severe tooth decay, commonly called "meth mouth" in people who regularly use meth is common. This emotional blunting, or not caring, can interfere with the relationships that healthy adults cherish, such as those with their spouses and children. Additionally, methamphetamine users may simply stop going to work or school, or paying the bills.

A Misplaced Sense of Empowerment

While under the influence of meth, users can have the illusion of being more powerful and productive 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 they can simultaneously behave bizarrely and become distant from positive social relationships. Unaware that they may appear ridiculous to others, many users lose contact with anyone besides other methamphetamine users.

Methamphetamine also can make people delusional. Their grasp on reality changes and can become eroded, and while they might feel superior to or better than other people (sometimes called grandiosity), 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 people in recovery from meth addiction are able to reflect on after the fact.

Physical Stimulation or Tweaking

Being high on meth also makes people feel different physically. In addition to a general feeling of stimulation, methamphetamine 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 side effects.

The sleep deprivation common among users of methamphetamine can worsen mental health problems such as anxiety, delusions, and hallucinations. Users can get very fidgety, known as "tweaking," and may experience formication, or the sensation of insects crawling underneath their skin. Repetitively picking at their skin leads to open wounds that later scar, known as "meth sores," a characteristic of regular meth users.

If methamphetamine 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.

Weight Loss

One of the reasons many people are attracted to methamphetamine is that it can be an appetite suppressant, and users may perceive themselves as more attractive when they lose weight.

Meth is unusual among illicit drugs in that almost as many women as men use it; most drugs and alcohol are taken by more men than women.

While a person's physical appearance often deteriorates as they continue to use methamphetamine, the initial feeling of being in control and losing weight can create a sense of well-being. And because users lack awareness of the changes in their physical appearance, they may not realize when they begin to show the adverse effects of the drug such as a frail or gaunt appearance.

Sexual Effects

The sexual effects of meth can be attractive to people who have sex addictions. While methamphetamine can be sexually stimulating, it can also lead to sexual dysfunction and a loss of libido. Considerable attention has been given to the use of meth in the gay community, commonly known as party and play or PnP, particularly in relation to concern about HIV and other STI risk.

Dosage Problems

Because methamphetamine is produced in clandestine or home labs, there is no way to predict how toxic or strong it's going to be, which can lead to users taking more than they intended, with potentially devastating results. Taking a stronger dose can also increase a user's tolerance so that the next time, more of the drug is needed to get the same high. If the drug is stopped, withdrawal is more intense, which is the physical side of the addiction.

Getting Help

Methamphetamine can be highly addictive and when users stop taking it, their symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, depression, psychosis, and intense cravings for the drug. While there are currently no government-approved medications to treat methamphetamine addition, behavioral therapies can be effective.

If you know someone who uses methamphetamine, understanding how it makes them feel may help you approach and communicate with them.

People who use meth are often reluctant to stop doing it when it feels good, even when they know it's bad for them. And those who have developed a physical dependence on the drug can experience severe withdrawal effects when they stop.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Prakash MD, Tangalakis K, Antonipillai J, Stojanovska L, Nurgali K, Apostolopoulos V. Methamphetamine: Effects on the brain, gut and immune system. Pharmacol Res. 2017;120:60-67. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2017.03.009

  2. Kiyatkin EA, Sharma HS. Acute methamphetamine intoxication: brain hyperthermia, blood-brain barrier, brain edema, and morphological cell abnormalities. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;88:65-100. doi:10.1016/S0074-7742(09)88004-5

  3. Radfar SR, Rawson RA. Current research on methamphetamine: epidemiology, medical and psychiatric effects, treatment, and harm reduction efforts. Addict Health. 2014;6(3-4):146-54.

  4. Meade CS, Watt MH, Sikkema KJ, et al. Methamphetamine use is associated with childhood sexual abuse and HIV sexual risk behaviors among patrons of alcohol-serving venues in Cape Town, South Africa. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012;126(1-2):232-9. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.05.024

  5. Pabst A, Castillo-duque JC, Mayer A, Klinghuber M, Werkmeister R. Meth Mouth-A Growing Epidemic in Dentistry? Dent J (Basel). 2017;5(4):29. doi:10.3390/dj5040029

  6. Zarrabi H, Khalkhali M, Hamidi A, Ahmadi R, Zavarmousavi M. Clinical features, course and treatment of methamphetamine-induced psychosis in psychiatric inpatients. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16:44. doi:10.1186/s12888-016-0745-5

  7. Hassan SF, Wearne TA, Cornish JL, Goodchild AK. Effects of acute and chronic systemic methamphetamine on respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic function, and cardiorespiratory reflexes. J Physiol (Lond). 2016;594(3):763-80. doi:10.1113/JP271257

  8. Reeve S, Sheaves B, Freeman D. The role of sleep dysfunction in the occurrence of delusions and hallucinations: A systematic review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2015;42:96-115. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.09.001

  9. Salamanca SA, Sorrentino EE, Nosanchuk JD, Martinez LR. Impact of methamphetamine on infection and immunity. Front Neurosci. 2014;8:445. doi:10.3389/fnins.2014.00445

  10. Palamar JJ, Kiang MV, Storholm ED, Halkitis PN. A Qualitative Descriptive Study of Perceived Sexual Effects of Club Drug Use in Gay and Bisexual Men. Psychol Sex. 2014;5(2):143-160. doi:10.1080/19419899.2012.679363

  11. Lea T, Kolstee J, Lambert S, Ness R, Hannan S, Holt M. Methamphetamine treatment outcomes among gay men attending a LGBTI-specific treatment service in Sydney, Australia. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(2):e0172560. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172560

Additional Reading
  • "What Is Methamphetamine?" National Institute on Drug Abuse. Revised May 2019.

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.
  • Newton T, De La Garza R, Kalechstein A, Tziortzis D, Jacobsen C. "Theories of Addiction: Methamphetamine Users’ Explanations for Continuing Drug Use and Relapse." American Journal on Addictions 18:294–300. 2009.
  • O'Brien A, Brecht M, Casey C. "Narratives of Methamphetamine Abuse: A Qualitative Exploration of Social, Psychological, and Emotional Experiences." Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 8(3): 343-366. 2008.
  • Semple S, Zians J, Strathdee S, Patterson T. "Sexual Marathons and Methamphetamine Use Among HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men." Arch Sex Behav 38:583–590. 2009.
  • Taylor N, Covey H. Helping People Addicted to Methamphetamine: A Creative New Approach. Praegar, Westport CT. 2008.