and Anxiety

Are meth and anxiety connected? Let’s dig into that question.

Meth use and abuse is a major health problem in the United States. A 2017 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that:1

More tha 14 million people ages 12 and older reported use of methamphetamine at some point in their lives

Approximately 1.6 million people reported using meth in 2017

Approximately 774,000 people reported using meth the prior month

What is Meth?

What is Fake Meth?

Fake crystal meth, known on the street as flakka, is an illegal synthetic stimulant drug. Flakka is a white or pink crystalline powder that looks similar to crystal meth. When it is taken, it’s possible to display superhuman strength, experience permanent neurological damage, and psychosis.

Can Meth Cause Anxiety?

Research studies has shown that anxiety is one of the leading psychiatric symptoms of people who use meth.3 Signs of anxiety can occur during meth use and also when meth is leaving a system.

Meth and Anxiety by the Numbers:3, 4

  • More than 75% of people who use amphetamine report anxiety 75% 75%
  • Almost 40% of people seeking treatment for meth use have a history of anxiety disorders 40% 40%
  • Approximately 39% of people who have an anxiety disorder along with a stimulant use disorder have a lifetime history of anxiety disorders 39% 39%
  • In 2017, approximately 15% of all drug overdose deaths in the US involved methamphetamine 15% 15%

What is Meth Psychosis?

Psychosis is a term used to describe conditions where a person’s mind experiences a disconnect with reality5 A psychotic episode is defined as an incident when someone experiences disturbing thoughts and perceptions that make it hard for the individual to know what is real and what is not. It can look like speaking incoherently, and other behaviors that are not inappropriate for the situation. Other signs of a psychotic episode may include anxiety, depression, insomnia, isolation, lack of motivation and having problems with overall functioning.

Meth-associated psychosis is a disorder where a person experiences delusion of persecution and auditory hallucinations from taking meth.5

Unfortunately, meth-associated psychosis can still occur in people who formerly used meth, even without a relapse. This is more in those who suffer from severe insomnia or who consume large amounts of alcohol.6

Why Might a Person Turn to Meth When Anxious?

When someone takes meth, the drug floods the brain with dopamine, a brain chemical that’s associated with pleasure and rewards. This surge of pleasurable dopamine creates a motivation to want to take more meth to repeat the sensations that are caused by the dopamine release.

When someone suffers from anxiety, a dopamine release via meth will bring feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and wakefulness while tamping down anxious feelings. Despite the dangers of taking meth, individuals may turn to the drug for relief from anxiety.

How Could Meth Make an Anxious Person Feel Better?

Meth can make an anxious person feel better because it can produce a sense of euphoria, well-being and energy. The “coming down” or crash that happens as meth wears off can cause severe depression, irritability and fatigue. Drug cravings coupled with these distressing symptoms may motivate a person to use more meth, which can lead to addiction.

Can You Become Addicted to Meth?

Yes, meth is highly addictive. When you stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms that can occur include:4



Severe depression 

Intense drug cravings 


Treatment for Meth and Anxiety

Currently, there are no medications approved for the treatment of meth abuse and addiction. Behavioral therapies are mainly used to treat meth abuse. One such therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).


CBT is a type of “talk therapy” based on teaching, encouraging, and supporting participants on how to stop their harmful use of meth

CBT provides valuable skills that help people initially gain sobriety from meth and also offers skills to help you stay sober (relapse prevention) 

In cases of anxiety issues, CBT can be adapted to also treat anxious thoughts and feelings 

It’s important to keep in mind that for someone who has both a meth use disorder and anxiety, simultaneous treatment for the anxiety disorder and the co-occurring substance use disorder needs professional treatment 

CBT therapists help people in recovery identify negative, automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts come from impulses originating from feelings of self-doubt, fear and also from misconceptions. Many people may attempt to self-medicate these painful thoughts and feelings by abusing drugs or drinking alcohol. Once these painful thoughts and feelings are identified, you can learn how to avoid triggering situations and how to use coping skills to alleviate distress and pain.

Once these skills are learned, you can practice them in and out of therapy sessions. CBT can be conducted in group or individual counseling sessions.

Final Thoughts

The following are important relevant facts to keep in mind regarding meth and anxiety:

Long-term meth use can cause serious and lasting physical and mental side effects 

An anxiety disorder and co-occurring meth use disorder requires professional treatment, regardless of which disorder came first 

People with a meth use disorder are at higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder 

Anxiety is a common short-term side effect of meth use

Meth can make pre-existing anxiety worsen 

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction and anxiety, help is available at treatment centers across the United States. A program that offers comprehensive treatment for meth abuse and anxiety disorders can help make recovery possible. Talk with your doctor or a reputable treatment center today as a first step to a revitalized and healthy drug-free life.


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