Why is Crystal Meth So Addictive?

Attachment Large Size Large Wp Image 3138

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Woman in hoodie on beach“The darkness set in,” says Lisa H. of Heroes in Recovery about her life with crystal meth. “The darkness of depression and addiction together is what I call my darkness. It was like there was no light at all. It was so lonely and so dark inside that I didn’t want to deal with the world. I didn’t want the world to see me, because I knew I was dark too, if that makes sense. What happened was I realized that I was addicted to crystal meth.”

Yes, crystal meth is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic (man-made) stimulant. Classified as a Schedule II substance for its high potential for abuse, this drug can snatch first-time users with its ability to elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and boost energy and alertness.1

Because the “high” from this pipe-smoked pill or shiny rock both starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern.2 In some cases, people take crystal meth in a form of binging known as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.3

“I told my husband that he needed to give me the last $10 we had,” Lisa H, continues. “We were pretty poor at the time, because I couldn’t work, and we were trying to live off of his income with three boys. I told him he needed to give me his last $10. He told me, if he gives it to me, then he would have to change the locks and I couldn’t come home. That money was for the kids, for food. I told him that money came from mom, so you need to give it to me. This is the insanity of the disease. All I can think about is my drugs, not about my kids. It’s very hard for me to admit, but it’s the truth. That’s where I get to in my disease. I pray I never forget about it. If I do, I’m at risk to go back there. I don’t ever want to.”

How the Brain and Body Are Affected by Crystal Meth

Normally, when a person does fun, drug-free things (like listen to music, play video games or eat tasty food), the brain naturally releases small amounts of dopamine.

Brain XraysCrystal meth causes a quick release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. With high amounts of dopamine circulating, a flood of good feelings is experienced. This sensation of extreme pleasure derived from crystal meth is sometimes referred to as a “rush” or “flash.”

The first time an individual uses meth, they experience a very significant “high” off of the drug. This experience becomes hard-coded into the individual’s memory. Now, for the remainder of an individual’s addiction, the brain will be trying to capture the same positive feelings of the first use.

The problem is, NO experience is ever as intense as that first use. The brain adapts to the drug almost immediately. This means that more and more meth must be used each time in pursuit of the initial high. These vain attempts lead to severe meth addiction, as the body tries to adapt to this foreign influence.4

The Slippery Slope of Crystal Meth Use

Once the supply of dopamine in the body runs out from using crystal meth, the brain will no longer send out small amounts of this pleasure-producing chemical when ordinary fun activities are experienced.

This can lead to depression or emotional numbness, which is exactly where Lisa H. was before getting clean. Little else begins to matter in the life of the addict except meth. The joy and satisfaction found in family, friends, work, and hobbies all fall short of the experience the drug provides.

This is the nature of meth addiction.4

What Might Happen if an Overdose of Crystal Meth Occurs?

First of all, an overdose may occur with any use of crystal meth. This substance can raise body temperature so much that the user passes out. If not treated right away, this can cause death. Death can also occur from heart attack or stroke caused by the drug’s effects on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. As a result, heart beat may speed up, blood pressure may rise and blood vessels may constrict.4

If Crystal Meth Use Is Stopped, Withdrawal Symptoms Are Unpleasant

People who try to quit using crystal meth might experience very uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal.

The user may:

  • Get really tired but have trouble sleeping.
  • Feel angry or nervous.
  • Feel depressed.
  • Feel a very strong craving to use the drug again.4


What Does Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction Look Like?

The most effective treatments for crystal meth addiction are behavioral therapies. Such services may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – This approach helps patients recognize, avoid and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs.
  • Motivational incentives – With this approach, vouchers or small cash rewards are awarded as a means of encouraging patients to remain drug-free.

While research continues, no government-approved medications currently exist for effectively treating crystal meth addiction.3

Michael’s House has considerable experience in treating crystal meth abuse and drug addiction. First of all, we can help patients work through their physical dependence. We can also help heal emotional and psychological conditions that can lead to despair, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. We are here to help you. We are experts. And we care. Call us anytime – day or night – for help.

Call Us

Speak with an Admissions Coordinator at 760.548.4032


1Crystal Methamphetamine Fast Facts – Questions and Answers.” National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice.NDIC. N.d. Web. Accessed 15 August 2017.

2Methamphetamine.” MedlinePlus. 6 June 2017. Web. Accessed 15 August 2017.

3Methamphetamine.” DrugFacts, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). February 2017. Web. Accessed 15 August 2017.

4Methamphetamine (Meth).” NIDA for Teens, National Institute on Drug Abuse. 4 August 2017. Web. Accessed 15 August 2017.