Meth and Anxiety

Meth use is linked with extremely high rates of anxiety in both active meth users and recovering addicts. For most, this anxiety subsides after six months of sobriety.

Last updated: March 19, 2019
Woman trying to not look anxious

Meth use has been on the rise in the United States over the past few years. Not only have more people started to use this drug, but it has become more dangerous and addictive because it is now more pure. While meth was only 10% pure in 2010, it was tested at 75% purity in 2014. Higher rates of people are dying from meth use, which is why it’s extremely important to get sober as early as possible. While the road to sobriety may seem daunting, there are no words to describe the rewards that sobriety brings. Those actively using meth, as well as those detoxing from the substance, likely have many questions about how meth affects their bodies. Meth has a negative impact on both physical and mental health. This article will discuss the effect that meth has on anxiety.

How does meth affect my anxiety?

There is little research that shows exactly how meth effects anxiety. However, various studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the two. Long-term meth use has been shown to both cause anxiety disorders and worsen symptoms of anxiety in those that has pre-existing anxiety conditions. This is likely due to the chemicals released in the brain during meth use. When someone uses meth, there is a surge of chemicals released in the brain, one of which is serotonin. Serotonin is directly responsible for regulating mood. This is partially why those “high” on meth experience feelings of euphoria. However, when the brain is overwhelmed by large amounts of chemicals, it finds it harder to reabsorb them later. For this reason, meth users experience low levels of serotonin when not “high” on meth. Lack of serotonin causes both anxiety and depression.

Is this different than normal anxiety? If so, how?

The feelings that someone experiences when “high” on meth are similar to those experienced when someone is having an anxiety attack. These feelings include increased heart rate and racing thoughts. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether meth brought on someone’s anxiety or whether their pre-existing anxiety was simply exacerbated by their meth use. The fact is that meth and anxiety are closely linked and few people who use meth are exempt from feelings of anxiety.

How does withdrawal from meth affect my anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most common side effects of withdrawal from meth use. The majority of people experience this. There is little research done on whether anxiety is a result of meth use or a reason that people begin to use the drug. However, it is reported that over 40% of meth users have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety levels in those detoxing from meth can range from mild to severe, with severe being quite rare. Most former meth users report that anxiety is worst in the first few weeks after quitting, with the highest levels of anxiety experienced around the 25 day mark.

Responses for anxiety

 MilestoneTotalYesPercent
 1 days108
52
48%
 2 days139
50
35%
 3 days131
40
30%
 4 days152
55
36%
 5 days176
52
29%
 6 days152
39
25%
 7 days228
68
29%
 10 days288
72
25%
 2 weeks316
79
25%
 3 weeks323
89
27%
 25 days324
87
26%

When will my anxiety start to improve in sobriety?

This question does not have an easy answer. For those without permanent anxiety disorders, feelings of anxiety in sobriety can subside within a few months. In fact, the majority of former meth users state that their anxiety significantly decreased starting at six months sober. However, keep in mind that those with anxiety disorders may experience the feelings for longer than this. If you feel as though you may suffer from an anxiety disorder, it’s best to speak with your doctor. They may prescribe therapy or mild medication.

What are ways I can improve my anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling that everyone experiences at one time or another. When they are stressed or worried about a situation, they may experience a fastened heart rate, sweaty palms, and other typical anxiety symptoms. However, for normal people, this feeling passes fairly quickly. For those who have an anxiety disorder or who are detoxing from meth use, anxiety may be a more constant feeling. With that being said, there are several tips and tricks to help alleviate anxiety. Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your anxiety:

  • Practice deep breathing: Deep diaphragmatic breathing can spark the transition from sympathetic nervous system- where feelings of anxiety sprout- to parasympathetic nervous system- where feelings are calmer.

  • Exercise: Exercising releases endorphins, which combat feelings of anxiety.

  • Avoid caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which can trigger feelings of anxiety.

  • Get enough sleep: When our bodies don’t get enough REM sleep, we can experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

  • Make time for soothing activities: Taking a walk, listening to music, or reading a good book can all help keep our bodies calm and our minds on other things. When we aren’t thinking about ourselves and our own lives, we aren’t able to overthink these details.

There’s no question about it- meth is dangerous. Not only does it have a negative physical impact by causing weight loss and impulsivity, but it also causes poor sleep quality and high levels of anxiety. Those who use meth do so because of the intense feelings of euphoria they get when it triggers a release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. However, this feeling is not worth the negative impact it can have on someone, both physically and mentally. If you or someone that you know is struggling with meth abuse, it’s not too late to get sober. Sobriety may seem like an overwhelming prospect, but we assure you that it’s rewarding. At I Am Sober, our aim is to help those struggling with addictions to seek the help that they need. Remember- you are not alone in your sobriety journey. Many people have gotten sober from meth and live happy, free lives today. You can, too!

Resources:

Count Your Days Clean From meth

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