Also known as meth, ice, or crystal meth, methamphetamine is a stimulant that targets a person’s central nervous system.
It works by increasing the amount of a natural chemical or neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine plays a role in the movement, motivation, and reward or reinforcement of behaviors. When someone smokes, snorts, swallows, or injects meth, they may experience a spike in dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria and confidence. However, as with many other drugs, meth users often experience a crash after using. But what is a meth high like? And how long does a meth high last? Below, Banyan Boca Raton looks to answer these questions.
What Does Meth Look Like?
Depending on its production process and purity, methamphetamine can take on a variety of shapes and hues. A powdery substance that resembles tiny crystals or shards of crystal is the most popular form of meth. These crystals might be transparent, white, off-white, or yellowish in hue. Meth's hue can vary depending on its purity, with higher purity often producing clearer crystals.
Meth, however, can also be obtained in other ways. Small tablets of compacted "ice," which can be colored or clear, can be made from it. The term "crystal meth," which describes larger, chunkier crystals that can resemble bits of glass or rock candy, is another term for the substance. Crystal meth has a bluish tinge or can be translucent. It is important to remember that meth can be cut or contaminated with other chemicals, changing its color and texture, which can cause a wide range in appearance.
How Does Meth Make You Feel?
This substance is known to make users feel energetic, euphoric, and extremely confident, which results from meth’s impact on a person’s senses and ability to interpret thoughts, memory, and focus. Physical aspects like breathing, body temperature, movement, and balance are also affected by this form of drug use.
Similarly, crystal meth is the most potent and purest form of methamphetamine out there. Many people suffer from physical and psychological damage with chronic use, leading to addictions that are usually too difficult to recover from without the help of methamphetamine detox or treatment programs.
The immediate effects of meth use include:
- Wakefulness or alertness
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Elevated body temperature (hyperthermia)
Along with euphoria, methamphetamine releases an elevated level of dopamine in the brain's reward circuit, teaching the brain to repeat the “pleasurable” activity of drug use. The elevated levels of dopamine that are activated also contribute to the drug’s adverse effects on nerve terminals in the brain.
How Long Is a Meth High?
How long a meth high lasts can depend on a variety of factors. It will typically last for 4 to 16 hours. However, this depends on what stage of the high the user is in. Usually, methamphetamine’s duration of effects depends on when and how the individual took the drug. Meth highs also occur in stages, starting with an initial rush and ending with a crash.
The beginning of being high on meth consists of a rush of dopamine that is instant and powerful. Meth users may experience a burst of energy or rush of euphoria that makes their hearts race, increases their confidence, boosts their metabolism, spikes their blood pressure, and leads to rapid speech. The initial rush of meth lasts about 14 hours.
A more prolonged high follows the initial rush, also referred to as “the shoulder.” Typically, this period lasts anywhere between 4 to 15 hours. During this phase, users may be more outspoken and more prone to arguing to make their point. Ice users in the high phase often fixate on one activity, like staring at a flame or an appliance or repeating tasks like snapping their fingers.
Repeat (The Binge)
During the binge phase, users may attempt to maintain their high by using more of the drug. A binge can last anywhere between 3 and 15 days, during which the person becomes more hyperactive. However, while users may inject, snort, or smoke more ice during the binge phase, they may experience a similar but shorter-lasting rush until there is no rush or high. An increase in physical tolerance makes it more difficult for users to experience the rush of crystal meth, contributing to the use of higher doses and an increased risk of overdose.
Tweaking (Shutdown Phase)
Methamphetamine users are most dangerous when they are tweaking, a condition that occurs when a person reaches the end of a drug binge and can no longer experience a rush or high. When the binging phase is over, the psychological effects of meth take over due to exhaustion, lack of eating, and an inability to experience a high again. Most meth users describe the period after a high to be empty, lonely, and depressing. While tweaking, people may also experience intense cravings for meth and a fog of sensations.
This phase is particularly dangerous for the individual and the people around them due to their increased hostility, irritability, and desire to harm themselves. Intense itching is also common in this stage because users might be convinced that bugs are crawling under their skin, a condition also referred to as meth mites. Additionally, because crystal meth users cannot sleep for days at a time while binging, they may be in a completely psychotic state in which they see and hear things that are not real.
Following binging and tweaking, a crystal meth user may eventually crash or fall into a period where they sleep for as long as three days. At this point, their body is unable to cope with the overwhelming side effects of meth on the brain and the high doses they have taken. Even the most severe, long-term users become lifeless during the meth crash phase.
After the crash, the user returns to a deteriorated state, during which they may experience meth hangover symptoms like severe hunger or dehydration, plus mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. The meth hangover can last anywhere from 2 to 14 days. Because most users figure that using more meth will eliminate these symptoms, this leads to enforcing their addiction, which requires meth addiction treatment to recover from.
What Affects How Long the Effects of Meth Last?
How long a crystal meth high lasts depends on a variety of factors. It can be different from user to user as well. Some factors that impact the length of a meth high include:
- The potency of the drug (meth vs crystal meth)
- How the drug was used
- Whether the person used more than one kind of drug
- User’s medical history and underlying health conditions
- The body’s ability to metabolize meth
When asking, “How long does a meth high last?” It should be considered that even feeling the need to inquire could lead a person down a dangerous path. It is also not the only question asked regarding this destructive substance.
How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?
Several factors influence how long methamphetamine (meth) remains in your system. The amount of time it takes for half of a drug to be cleared from the body is known as the half-life, and the meth half-life is particularly long. The half-life of meth lasts roughly 10 to 12 hours on average. This indicates that it takes meth about two to three days to completely leave your system.
It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that individual characteristics can affect timing. The amount of meth consumed, how frequently it was consumed, how quickly it was metabolized, general health, and kidney function can all impact how quickly the drug leaves the body. Meth can occasionally be found in urine tests up to 3 days following use. Meth can be found in hair follicle samples for substantially longer periods of time, frequently up to 90 days.
It is important to keep in mind that even after a person stops using meth, its effects might linger in the body. Abuse of methamphetamine can have long-term effects on one's physical and emotional well-being, including harm to the heart, brain, and other organs.
No matter what the causes of addiction are, leaving it unaddressed can spell serious trouble for one suffering. For someone struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, inpatient drug treatment might be necessary. Although the initial effects of ice are euphoric, the use of this drug only leads to short and long-term problems.
Considering meth can have a significant impact on a person’s mental well-being, we also encourage those struggling to consider seeking out treatment from our Boca Raton mental health facilities. This center is a leading provider in Boca behavioral health care, while our nearby Banyan drug rehab can aid patients in addressing the complex issues of substance abuse and addiction.
If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to meth, Banyan Treatment Centers can help. Call our Palm Beach rehab today at 888-280-4763 for more information.