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How does meth work?

Meth is a highly addictive substance that affects both the body and the brain.  In fact, meth addictive properties make it one of the most targeted drugs in the U.S. today.  We explain how meth works below and what some of its effects can be in both the short-term and the long-term. Then, we welcome any questions or comments you may have about meth in the comments section below.

How does meth work in the body?

Meth is a stimulant that affects the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. Meth changes the way the body processes certain chemicals that act as communicators between nerve cells and brain cells, which are called “neurotransmitters.” The neurotransmitter most affected by meth use is dopamine. Dopamine, in particular, gets released in large quantities when you use meth. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, and creates a sense of euphoria in the user known as a “rush.” During this rush, heart rate, blood pressure, and libido increase an intense feeling of well-being.

How long amphetamines in the system depend on what it is you’re taking.   But, effects of meth usually wear out within a day, or so.  During a meth binge, a post-rush phase known as “tweaking” can occur. When you tweak on meth, euphoria is replaced with possible paranoia, irritability, hallucination, and delusion. Since meth quickly depletes the body’s dopamine supply, users can experience a period of depression or “crash.” During a crash, meth users experience depression and fatigue.

How does meth affect the brain and nervous system?

Meth can have many long-lasting effects on the brain. In fact, chronic use of meth can permanently alter how the brain processes memories and emotions, leading to mood disturbances, paranoia, violent behavior, and symptoms consistent with psychosis. Long-term abuse can also damage motor skills.

How fast or quickly does meth work?

Meth works very quickly when smoked or injected, with effects felt almost immediately. After oral ingestion, meth effects occur more slowly but last longer.

How long does meth work?

How long meth works varies depending on method of administration. The effects of meth can last between four and eight hours, and residual effects may last as long as twelve hours. After effects of binge meth use can last for several days and can lead to meth cravings.

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What makes meth work better?

Meth creates a pretty long lasting and intense high on its own. As tolerance develops, users may seek ways to intensify their high. Because meth already puts great strain on the heart and circulatory system, mixing meth with other drugs is dangerous and can lead to overdose.

Does meth work for everyone?

Like any substance, not all who use meth recreationally become addicted to it. However, meth has a high addictive potential. The crash after a meth binge causes the user to seek more meth to offset those negative effects. As tolerance to meth increases, users take more and take it more often.

Furthermore, long term abuse of meth can take a great toll on the body, leading to skin lesions, tooth decay, and sometimes stroke or heart attack. Because meth also increases sex drive and decreases inhibition, it can also lead to sexually transmitted diseases.

How does meth work questions

If you have any questions about how meth works, or would like to share any feedback, please do so in the comments section below. We will try to get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NHTSA: Methamphetamine
CDC Fact Sheets: Meth
NIDA: Drug Facts: Methamphetamine
NIDA: Drugs of Abuse: Methamphetamine
State of Utah Department of Health: Meth Abuse

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30 Responses to “How does meth work?
melissa
10:07 pm March 15th, 2014

How many days to give a clean drug test

Jose m medina jr
4:19 am May 25th, 2014

Been wondering are there permanent damage side affects?

8:02 am May 27th, 2014

Hello Jose. Yes, meth can cause long term, permanent damage to the body, brain, behavior, and psychology of a user. You can check out more about the long term effects of meth here: http://addictionblog.org/infographics/long-term-effects-of-meth-on-the-body-infographic/

subhan
5:52 pm June 26th, 2014

Hi, I started using meth a week ago and I am afraid that I’ll get addicted to it. I just inhale 2-4 fat lines of it. Will I get affected or addicted? …when it’s over i feel like using more of it, but I control myself, and I can be without it.

8:05 am June 27th, 2014

Hi Subhan. Crystal methamphetamine is a dangerous and powerful drug. At first it acts as a stimulant to the brain, but destroys the body and is associated with many serious health conditions.

It’s highly addictive and many users report being hooked on meth from the first use. So you might want to seriously consider NEVER using it again. Science shows it’s develops one of the hardest drug addictions, has many psychological and physical side effects, and in many cases, unfortunately, meth use has fatal consequences.

Kooper
6:40 pm July 14th, 2014

My boyfriend has been using since before we’ve got together. I came from a family who abused the drug and swore to myself I wouldn’t ever be with someone who used. I’ve cried to him countless times. He refuses to seek help but wants to overcome this by himself after using for 3 years. His bursts of outrage, paranoia, false accusations, and inability to trust me are ruining the relationship, not just between he and I but both of our families. I’ve seen him crash for a whole day. Told him I’d stick by his side through it and he couldn’t handle the withdraws so he went back. He wakes up in the morning hits a fat line, then another around noon. Before he comes to bed he takes a zanex to be able sleep with me. I need to know the affects the dope and bar could have on him. Especially considering one is an up and the other is a downer.

richard
4:42 am October 9th, 2014

no meth is that great cause normal a,fetame can’t cross the brainbarrier easily, meth can walk through, that’s the difference, so the high is highhh, more effective and well , ain’t shit to f*ck with. And the list of teethproblems comes from poor hygiene, not the meth. Never cleaning youself on a propably poor sugarfree dieet and too few calcium etc intake , makes your teeth , well fall out?… But the meth ain’t doing it, besides destroying live, brain , life. and fast. Heroine ain’t toxic at all, they have or had teethproblems, but they nearly feed themselves and hygiene is low. But the heroine nearly damages cells, coke and alcohol are way more toxic.

timmy
7:38 am November 13th, 2014

ADHD is real and something ive struggled with forever. Have been diagnosed with ADD since I was a little kid. I have been Taking Adderall for years and without it I wouldn’t have been able to focus enough to pass high school (manly math). My doctor is very open minded and understanding and we need more people like this to treat people with true ADD/ADHD. Have been going to the same psychiatrist for years and he’s absolutely awesome! I’m currently enrolled in full time school (never thought I could be) and I’m perfectly fine. ADHD is real. Anyone who disagrees needs to read up on their scientific psychiatric literature and studies!

crystal g
5:44 am December 21st, 2014

I have not read yet the many other ways illegal method use destroys us. I am a second generation drug addict. While I have been clean for almost 8 years after using method among other narcotics for 8 years, my mother and sister still use method. My mother was very absent from our lives due to her method use, and it continue to rob families, destroying logical thinking, reasoning beyong primitive thought as expressed in on of the previous comments, and currently my 56 year old mother has begun to show strong consistent signs of scitizophrenia from long term use. Her actions have lead to permenant damage and I will be forced to experience it and watch her suffer. The use of meth is nothing to play with and should be handeled as if the devil is trying to destroy your life. Get away, get help, take it seriously.

help
4:09 am January 13th, 2015

how much meth does it take to injest and test positive the next day

Starr
8:49 am February 24th, 2015

My fiance swallowed a gram of meth never done it before in his life it’s a long story on why he did this but what signs do I need to look for? What can I do for him at home please email me back hope u have a blessed day

4:20 pm March 2nd, 2015

Hello Starr. Call the Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222 to talk to a poison expert, get advise on what to do next and what are the possible risks.

Kelleigh
6:00 am April 2nd, 2015

I am a recovering, and sadly relapsing, addict of meth. I was strung out bad on it about 2 years ago, and up until a couple weeks ago I was clean and sober. I was recently asked if I could pass a drug test if asked to take one for personal family reasons. I was an avid shooter before, but only snort it now. I’m just wondering if anyone knows about how long the drug will stay in my system if I only snort at most 3 small lines a day. I’ve only had 1 today and it was about 4pm. I’m not sure when my drug test will be, if I actually have one, but I’m not doing any more for now, at least until I have the drug test. Can anyone help me out with some answers please?

Isabella
11:15 am May 19th, 2015

How could methamphetamine use possibly lead to any sexually transmitted disease?

3:50 pm May 19th, 2015

Hi Isabella. You can read more about your question in this medical study: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/pdf/meth.pdf and if you are looking for more info, you can find many more scientific studies in medical journals on the internet.

manni
9:51 pm July 20th, 2015

Last week my friend told me a magical drug …. I snoted 4-5 line … ate nothing for 3 days … drank liters of water …… no sleep …. I got so frustrated … now I m neva gonna do meth again … good news is I’ll never do chemical in my life again … bcoz meth is soooo bad .. pls dont do it … only a man who have done it can tell u … pls dont do it even once ….

Jay
6:46 am December 11th, 2015

Hello , this is a little confusing but I was smoking on Monday with a couple of friends and I asked them what is it there like its crAck ok anyways I do it but it kept me up all night till Tuesday night at midnight around 2 so wenesday I tired to sleep and I did I got up around 9 in the moring on wenesday and took a shower and couldn’t eat for none I’m like what’s wrong with me, anyways I push my self to eat and drink water , so called friends calls me like u trying to chill so I went and we do the same and I Asked them again they said its the same crack, ok so we smoke wenesday after noon till Thursday like 12
After noon so I pushed my self I was like Ima go
Sleep, so I called one of my other buddy’s and I’m telling him so
Around 2 I fall asleep and I get up around 4 and this girl call me to
Go to the store with her I’m like ok let’s go
We go , and we talking she goes I gotta ask u sum I’m like what ? She goes do u know what u smoked ? I’m like yah crack right she
Goes no u smoked meth I’m like nah u playing she swear watever .. So now I’m all stressd and scared so we go back I go to the bathroom and and go on google and see what’s up so it tells to take
Showers and to eat more and drink.a lot of water so I am !! So
I take a shower and everything , I eat I push my self to
Eat and drink water so it’s going good..BUT SINCE ITS MY FIRST LIKE I DIDNT HAVE THE FEELING TO
DO IT ANYMORE I WAS DONE MY BIGGEST MISTSKE SINCE I
NOW EITHER WAY CRACK
STILL BAD FOR YOU AND TEETH.. But I need help now…!

What is going to happen ? Like is my face going to brake out or teeth or anything !! Please comment and tell me !! Thank u

Chrystal (yeah like Crystal meth..haha)
7:09 am December 14th, 2015

Ok I’m no hypocrite but one drug is DEFINATELY no different than the other, but I’m telling you now I’ve been on meth since I was 16 ((was the head cheerleader prom queen nominee & did good in school)). One day I had to move down to a small town in the middle of nowhere outside Houston to go see my father.
I started hanging out with these new people, my new ‘friends’ I had met at the small high school -they introduced me to all kinds of drugs from Coke to ecstacy acid pills crack even shrooms and angel dust, I had gotten “wet” from a sweet dipped in embalming fluid.. None really turned me on -/-Besides weed-/- once I tried meth I got hooked.. I fell I love with my own personal monster with the similar name ~~”friends”then started to call me CrystalMeth as a nickname~cause my initials were the same)
I started light ..doing lines,eating it, then started hot railing it and shooting it into my ass with a baby meds cyringe and FINALLY shooting up (IV Use).. But that didn’t last long EVEN THO IT WAS MY FAVORITE WAY TO GET HIGH AFTER JUST DOING IT 1 time.. I could not conflict pain on myself, EVERYTIME ID go to push the needle in I’d shake so bad! So I had to have a guy with me at all times we became the best of friends cause he used cause it helped him with PTSD & he had then became my new bff cause he was my pusher.
ANYWAYS!!

ALL THE HORROR STORIES YOU HEAR ABOUT MAKING YOUR TEETH FALL OUT & SHRUG OFF THINKIN “yeah that shit happens to other people but I brush my teeth all the time & can eat on it”.. DONT DO IT!! My teeth are rotten at the bottom and I brushed and garbled EVERYTIME I used (smoked snorted etc) it don’t matter! You tend to lose track of time on this drug, causing dry mouth, tongue liaisons ulcers on side of cheek and terrible chapped lips..(Yeah the damage woulda been more rapidly deteriorating if you don’t brush or drink water) my gums are gone from under my tongue.. Dentures DONT fix the gum problem!! **gonna interrupt a minute cause it made me think of s commercial I saw when I was younger.. The kids would say :
“I want to be a astronaut when I grow up” & “I want to be a ballet dancer when I grow up” (girls voice).. Then a cut away to some very unhealthy skinny nasty teeth woman & she says “No one ever says I want to be a Junky when I grow up”!! Drugs are bad! Point blank period! Straight up!
IVE DONE EM ALL!! Even was in a 2 week Coma from an accidental overdose of Tylenol and methadone. My own dad was going to pull the plug until my husband prayed over my bed that night. Turns out I woke up that same am which was EASTER Sunday! God raised me from my slumber, leaving me with major nerve damage in my left leg & epilepsy.
I wish I could tell you it’s not addicting that I’m not still addicted and I can stop when ever, but this is worse than any drug out there cause once u r all out of meth you age backwards and you have EVEN LESS energy than before you started. When I was using I could not stop didn’t want to and didn’t care, he’ll the people I was hanging out with didn’t have their teeth ALREADY so I figured I was still good. All this shit can’t be good,.
~Meth Mouth ~Lock Jaw ~Grinding Teeth ~chapped lips and tounge (from smacking or taking all night), picking at your face/body .. My thing was I had to clean my house while ideas on it, so I made THAT my excuse to use!! I didn’t have any my house was a WRECK! Gimmie a few hours and a few grams and it’d be spotless.
This is my fate my choice I played the hand I was dealt and I made the worst decision
.. Meth is NOT a good drug HAVE YOU ever seen a sexy ass lady meth addict who’s been up for a few days her eyes popped out of her head?
It’s NOT a pretty picture. It’s like the febreeze commercials where the house smells like a big fish & the announcer says “you just had a fish dinner, you think it smells fine but your friends smell THIS! & it’s something Totally opposite of what u thought it was!! Haha! I’ve seen bathtub crank -an EVEN WORSE drug– being made, its just a bunch of household chemicals mixed together with some pills for allergies or coughs mixed together. So yeah want to try meth?
lick the inside of your toilet first ((better yet the inner rim of a public restroom or urinal.. ))GROSS HUH?
That’s what everyone else sees when you tell them what your into… That’s actually a lot healthier habit than meth!
but I’m just a ex cheerleader/model/Dancer/wife/daughter/mom/teacher/author/ but MOST OF ALL..
I’m Chrystal and IM AN ADDICT (sadly been in and out of rehab so I get high with a head ful of NA) it’s just NOT WORTH IT, I’m serious my teeth are falling out but fuck my teeth they have to do a skin graph to regrow all my gums under my tongue and behind my front BOTTOM teeth!! BRUSH BRUSH BRUSH BRUSH & BRUSH SOME MORE!! I WaS ANAL ABOUT IT BUT ONE NIGHT AFTER SHOOTING UP ALL DAY MY TONGUE STARTED PULLING AWAY FROM MY TEETH,LITERALLY my gums were peeling away from my teeth..So fuckin painful & PHYSCHOLOGICALly damaging.. Zero TEETH EQUALS ZERO SELF ESTEEM!!
BUT As long as I GOT MY METH I’ll be fine.. I’m STILL the sexiest one out of my group of no teeth having friends of mine! But THATS WHAT THE MONSTER WANTS!! Just you and the drug. He makes everything better UNTIL you run out! Then your in an even WORSE frame of mind and body then before!
Just LET IT GO!! Don’t Put nothing in!! JUST SAY NO! Or say yes & get ready for one hell of a ride & jail time and loneliness! I’m still working on my addiction but I’m doing a lot better (I’m now on the methadone program-for pain pill addiction- but they Piss test me EVERY MONTH RANDOMLY so as long as I got this As a leash I’ll be ok!
If you get approached just turn the other way and if it’s UOUR “friends” offering it! They aren’t your true friends!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:58 am December 14th, 2015

Hi, Crystal. Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope our readers will get the message. Good luck!

Dawn
4:26 pm January 17th, 2016

My son of 35 died December 8 2015 of a meth. overdose. My son had done pain pills off and on sinse he was a teenager . He lived with me off and on. I’m his mom. Never saw him act like a meth. addict. He also had alprazalam in his system. It was a shock to everyone. I wish they could get this stuff off the street; by the way they said it was pure. I had to look that up because I didn’t know what that meant. I pray for everyone addicted! My son left a 10 year old son.:( I muss him so much. I feel so helpless

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:02 pm January 23rd, 2016

Hi, Dawn. I’m really sorry for your loss… Hope others will read your post, and get the message…

Jay
11:03 pm January 31st, 2016

It’s Sunday afternoon yesterday I smoked meth from 4 in the afternoon till 3 this morning then did Coke till 7 this morning then also Wednesday I smoked meth from 4 in afternoon till 10 in morning Thursday, and the Sunday before late at night till 1 in the afternoon Monday I have a drug test in about a week when will it be out of my urine and how can I help get it out faster I am 21 180 lbs 6″1

Jessica
11:33 pm March 15th, 2016

If I was smoking meth for over a week straight every day less than a quarter gram a day , how long do you think it will take to get out of my system ? I have a very fast metabolism and I’m 17 years old weigh 117 5’6

12:55 pm March 23rd, 2016

Hi Jessica. Smoked crystal meth can take anywhere from 3-5 days to clear from your urine. The detection period for blood and saliva is about 12 hours since your last use. Meth can stay detectable in your hair the longest – up to 90 days after use or longer.

Frsnk
4:53 am April 18th, 2016

My friend is on Meth. I’m so worried about him . He’s lost so much weight . He was 185 and all muscle. Now he’s really skinny.. he won’t stop. I promise not to tell him family. What do I need to do.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:11 pm April 22nd, 2016

Hi Frsnk. I suggest that you look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help:
http://alliesinrecovery.net/about-craft/

Angela
1:57 pm May 1st, 2016

I wondering if there is a way I can know more detail or if you knew of a site resource online for more detailed temanology… To doctors status on that. Thank you so much!!!

Bobbie
4:32 am May 4th, 2016

If i smoked meth a small amount,like a 20 a day,but i did it for over a year,when will i be able to pass urine drug test? I am done OMG AM I DONE but it has been a month and the tests i have bought are showing up positive. of course they are positive for a bunch of stuff Ive NEVER done. But my doc is goin g to test me and i totally havt touched it. Does this make sense? I know i am and need to pay for my past ways. I dont expect sympathy, just should I expect many more months of positives

Sam
9:23 pm June 18th, 2016

I really want to get off this before I die I don’t do it every day but it seems like every other day I’m getting high please someone help

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:08 pm June 22nd, 2016

Hi Sam. If you are looking for addiction treatment, call our trusted treatment hotline, our consultants can help you make the best decision for you.

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