What can methamphetamine feel like?

Methamphetamine can make you feel hyperactive, paranoid, euphoric and aggressive. The effects of meth can be unpredictable and can change depending on how much you use, how often you use and for how long. The effects of meth usually last 4–12 hours. Remember, a low dose for one person can be a high dose for another as people’s bodies process drugs differently. 

Keep in mind that, when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, meth can have different effects to those listed below.

Pleasant effects

Unpleasant effects

Not feeling hungry

Feeling wide awake and hyper

Sexually aroused

Socially confident

Euphoria

 

Not feeling hungry

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding

Sweaty or very hot or very cold

Headaches

Increased heartrate

Irritable and agitated

Aggressive

Confused

Disoriented

Mood swings

Nauseous

Anxious

Insomnia

Pleasant effects

Unpleasant effects

Increased hyperactivity

Increased euphoria

 

Unpredictable behaviour

Making risky decisions or judgements

Irregular or fast heartbeat

Crawling sensation on your skin

Increasingly anxious

More aggressive or violent

Severe stomach-aches

Severely nauseous

Vomiting

Paranoid

Hallucinations

Pleasant effects

Unpleasant effects

Intense hyperactivity

Intense euphoria

 

Sudden personality changes

Chest pain

Difficulty breathing

Severely anxious

Having serious disturbances in mental abilities (delirium)

Violent

Psychosis

Seizures

Losing consciousness

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How can you be safer when using methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is used in many ways and can affect people differently at different doses. It is always a good idea to think about how you can be safer when using meth. 

Consider swallowing meth and waiting an hour before redosing. 
Swallowing meth or mixing it into a drink can help avoid the damage that some other methods of using can have on your body. Using meth this way delivers the drug to your body more slowly, so wait for 1 hour before re-dosing as you may not feel the effects straight away. If you re-dose too quickly, you can increase your chance of overdose.

If you are injecting meth, use clean equipment every time. 
Use clean and new needles, filters and butterflies and sterile water every time you inject meth. You can get these from needle exchanges across New Zealand. This helps to reduce skin infections and the transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis that you can get from sharing needles.

Use a glass shatterproof pipe if you are smoking meth. 
These pipes will prevent you from getting cuts or burns when using. If you have a pipe that has a broken edge it is best to avoid using it.  If you can, use a mouthpiece so you don't burn your lips on the pipe. Avoid sharing pipes with others as this can spread disease and infection. 

Test your meth to make sure it isn't mixed with other drugs. 
Meth can be tested at a drug checking clinic with a spectrometer. If you plan on injecting meth, a drug checking clinic may also test it for fentanyl with a testing strip, You can also test meth yourself with reagent tests that you can buy from places like Cosmic and The Hemp Store in New Zealand. You can also buy fentanyl test strips from these stores.

Common doses for meth can be different depending on how you are taking them (orally, injecting, smoking). Visit tripsit for more information on dosing meth. 

For more information on how to be safer when using drugs and alcohol, see Safer using.

To order MethHelp workbooks that support people to make changes to their methamphetamine use and other free resources for safer use, see Resources.

 

 

 

 

 

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What can a bad experience on methamphetamine feel like?

Overdoses on meth are not uncommon in New Zealand, especially if you use often or in large amounts. If you are using meth, it is helpful to be aware of what an overdose or a bad trip looks like so you or the people around you can act quickly.

If you experience unexpected or concerning effects from meth you can notify High Alert to help keep others safe.

If you …

Then …

Feel agitated or irritable

Have headaches

Are breathing rapidly

Feel anxious

Feel paranoid

Feel dizzy

Have stomach-aches

Have a feeling of crawling on your skin

Feel sweaty or very hot or very cold

Are hyperactive

Feel jittery

Feel nauseous

Try these things at home:

  • Focus on breathing – try taking slow, deep breaths.
  • If you are able, call and talk to somebody you trust and ask them to help keep you calm.
  • Do not take more meth, caffeine, alcohol or other drugs, as these can make you feel worse.
  • Move to somewhere quiet – try to sit or lie down and do something relaxing.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated.

Experience bladder problems or pee dark urine

Experience changes in your personality

Have mood swings

Experience heart palpitations

Experience tremors

Feel increased agitation or aggression

Experience increased paranoia

Feel panicked or have a panic attack

Have a fever

Have severe headaches or migraines

Vomit

Have severe diarrhoea

Hallucinate

Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116)

They can talk you through the next steps.

 

Are jerking and have rigid limbs

Have trouble breathing

Experience psychosis

Experience severe emotional distress

Experience chest pain

Lose sensation on one side of your body

Have a seizure

Lose consciousness

Call 111

These are signs of a methamphetamine overdose. You or the people around you should act quickly.

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How can methamphetamine affect your work or daily activities?

Even at low doses, meth can affect your everyday activities. At a single low dose, these effects usually last 4–12 hours. If taken at a large dose, used regularly or mixed with alcohol or other drugs, some effects can last from several weeks to several months.

Methamphetamine can cause unpredictable behaviour, hallucinations and physical symptoms like extreme sweating, shaking and cramps. It can be unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery or to do tasks that need concentration. These drugs can cause personality changes, mood swings and hyperactive behaviour, which could make it difficult to interact with others.

When it comes to work, different jobs require different skills. If you are using methamphetamine, have a think about what you might need to do well at your job and what steps you could take to make sure you are not impaired.

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If you take methamphetamine, will it show up on a drug test?

At some time in your life, an employer, a family member or the government may ask you to take a drug test. It’s important to understand what drug tests can detect and what might happen if you fail one.

Methamphetamine will usually be tested for in hair, urine, saliva (spit) or blood. The timeframes in which meth can be detected in your body may vary depending on the size of dose you have taken and how long you have used methamphetamine for.

Generally, meth can be detected for 1–7 days in urine, 1–4 days in saliva, 1–3 days in blood and up to 90 days in hair.

If you fail a drug test, this may affect your employment, government support, court cases or official licences or registrations. At work, you may face legal consequences, especially if you have put the safety of others at risk.

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The short answer is yes. Drug testing is not an 100% accurate science and will sometimes give a ‘false positive’ result. This is when a drug test says that a person has a drug in their system, when they do not.  In these situations, the positive result has been caused by something else like medication or food.

You can get a false positive result for methamphetamine if you have used decongestants like pseudoephedrine, some weight loss medication, ADHD medication like Ritalin, quinolone antibiotics and antidepressants like trazodone. These are not the only medications that can show a false positive for meth, there are many. However, not everyone who takes these medications will have a false positive for meth. If you are expecting a drug test for meth and are using the medications above or other medications you are concerned about, speak with your doctor or the test provider beforehand to discuss your next steps.

What do comedowns from methamphetamine feel like, and how can you feel better?

If you …

Then…

Feel tired

Have trouble concentrating or thinking

Have cravings to use meth

Experience aches and pains

Experience memory problems

Experience mood swings

Feel nauseous

Feel anxious

Feel irritable or agitated

Experience low mood

Experience insomnia

Try these things at home:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Remember to eat and drink plenty of water.
  • Get moving to release feel-good brain chemicals.
  • Reach out and talk with friends and whānau for support.
  • Relax and do things that you enjoy to take your mind off not feeling well.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other drugs.
  • Practise mindfulness and deep breathing, and try writing down your thoughts and feelings.

Feel aggressive or severely agitated

Have intense cravings to use meth

Have an irregular heartbeat

Experience ongoing insomnia

Hallucinate

Experience severe anxiety

Experience increased low mood

Feel paranoid

Feel panicked or have a panic attack

Have suicidal thoughts

Have violent thoughts

Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116)

They can talk you through the next steps.

 

Have trouble breathing

Have severe chest pain

Experience psychosis

Act violently

Attempt suicide

Have a seizure

Lose consciousness

Call 111

These are signs that something more serious is going on. You or the people around you should act quickly.

 

 

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What happens if you use methamphetamine often?

Meth can change the way your brain works. It can cause problems for people who use it regularly and over a longer period of time, impacting impulse control, memory, concentration and sleep. It can also increase anxiety, depression and feelings of anger. Some of these effects can fade when you stop using meth, while others can be permanent.

Meth can also have effects on your appearance. People who use meth regularly may have problems such as acne, their face appearing very thin or lacking colour and blackening or rotting of teeth. Other effects include skin wounds from scratching or picking at sores and weight loss.

The more meth you use and the more often you use, the more likely you are to experience serious long-term effects.

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Thinking of taking a break from regular use?

See the 'Making changes' page for more information on how to Manage withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance, which can also mean it is difficult to cut down or stop using.

Withdrawal symptoms can start within 24 hours of when you last used meth. The most severe part of the withdrawal usually lasts 7–10 days, and symptoms start to become less unpleasant after another 2 weeks.

The long-term effects of meth use on the brain and body can last for several weeks to several years after you stop using.

If you …

Then …

Feel tired

Feel hungry or have an increased appetite

Have cravings to use meth

Have red, itchy eyes

Experience stomach-aches

Feel confused or have trouble thinking

Feel irritable or agitated

Have difficulty thinking

Have bad dreams or nightmares

Sweat or feel very hot or very cold

Feel anxious

Experience low mood

Feel flat or unmotivated

Feel jittery

Feel nauseous

Vomit

Try these things at home:

  • Follow a tapering plan from a health professional to reduce your dose slowly.
  • Consider counselling or support groups if feelings of anxiety and depression are getting worse.
  • Lean on a support network of friends, family and professionals.
  • Stick to a routine – waking up, eating well, keeping active and rewarding yourself with things that bring you joy.
  • Practise mindfulness by writing down your feelings, doing breathing exercises or meditating.

Experience severe meth cravings

Have ongoing disturbing and vivid dreams

Have a fever

Feel severely agitated or aggressive

Experience ongoing insomnia

Feel paranoid

Experience severe slowing of physical, emotional or speech reactions

Feel severely anxious

Experience increased low mood

Experience severe vomiting

Experience tremors

Have suicidal thoughts

Have violent thoughts

Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116)

You can talk to your doctor about:

  • other medicines to help you get through withdrawal
  • about rehab or withdrawal clinics in your area – visit Health Point to see what services are available.

 

Experience psychosis

Are severely emotionally distressed

Have a seizure

Act violently

Attempt suicide

Call 111

These are signs you could be experiencing severe methamphetamine withdrawal syndrome. You or the people around you should act quickly.

 For more information on getting support for drug and alcohol use, see Finding support.

Methamphetamine withdrawal. Here's what to expect when withdrawing from meth. The first three days you can experience exhaustion and low mood. The First week you can experience restlessness, irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, soreness and cravings. The following weeks you can experience mood swings, low mood, sleep problems and cravings. Things should be settling at this point. Note that it can take many months for your brain to adjust from regular meth use. During the first week you may find that you are more impulsive, have strong emotions and find it difficult to predict the consequences of your actions. Be kind to yourself and try to stay in contact with people who understand and can support you. Remember to call your doctor or the alcohol drug helpline (0800 787 797) if you experience uncommon symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea or suicidal thoughts.

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Wondering what the laws are around using methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is considered a Class A controlled drug in New Zealand. This means that possessing, buying, selling, making or giving methamphetamine to others is against the law.

You can also get in trouble with the law if you are found to be impaired by methamphetamine while driving.  

To find out more about the law around legal and controlled drugs, including methamphetamine, see Drugs and the law.

 

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