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.
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.
Verywell / Joshua Seong
If you know someone who uses methamphetamine, understanding how it makes them feel may help you approach and communicate with them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Getting high on meth can alter your perceptions and feelings making you feel powerful and energized, but the effects can quickly take a turn.
First, people who use both drugs simultaneously may drink more alcohol in order to feel more inebriated or feel its accustomed effects—thus leading to alcohol toxicity. Second, people who end up drinking more while high on meth may underestimate cognitive impairment and get behind the wheel of a car thus putting others at risk.
Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, is a medical writer and editor covering new treatments and trending health news.
In 2008, 24% of methamphetamine-related emergency department visits involved alcohol intoxication.
The prospect of mixing meth (methamphetamine) and alcohol probably seems foreign to most of us. However, certain similar combinations do pop up more frequently in daily life. For example, this combination is akin—but more dangerous—to smoking while drinking, or cutting hard liquor with Coca-Cola or Red Bull.
Participants were monitored and tested in a variety of ways including breath alcohol concentrations; cardiovascular, subjective, and cognitive/psychomotor performance; and objective sleep measures.
The distinct combined effects of meth and alcohol should serve as an ominous reminder to health-care professionals that various permutations of polysubstance misuse are distinct entities. With this knowledge in mind, physicians can better assess inebriated or impaired patients rushed to the ER. Mixing certain drugs (illicit, prescription, and non-prescription) can result in distinct adverse effects that may be dangerous—especially if you have other psychiatric or medical conditions.
Here are some findings from the study:
This study had definite limitations. First, the administration of the meth-alcohol combination in no way mimics real-world scenarios. Specifically, most people drink alcohol and either smoke or snort meth in an unregulated manner. Second, the study includes only nine participants. Third, people in the study were allowed to smoke cigarettes, introducing nicotine as a confounding variable. (Participants actually smoked more when taking the drug combo.)
In other words, in a legal and more restrained manner, mixing a stimulant (nicotine or caffeine) with alcohol (a depressant) is similar to mixing meth (a stimulant) with alcohol. (Technically, nicotine has both stimulant and depressant properties, but you get the picture.)
Learn what research has shown about why mixing methamphetamine with alcohol can be an extremely dangerous combo.