Meth is extremely addictive because it enhances a person’s mood and physical energy by releasing high levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in the brain. It also raises a person’s adrenaline levels, which increases energy. Meth can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed in pill form. The way it is ingested affects how quickly it takes effect and the length of the high it produces. Smoking or injecting meth causes an immediate euphoric “rush” that is followed by an intense “high,” where a person feels confident and energetic for four to sixteen hours. Snorting meth produces a more mellow high that has a slower onset but can last for up to twelve hours. Swallowing meth pills leads to a high in fifteen to twenty-five minutes, but generally, people who swallow or snort meth don’t experience the euphoric rush; they use it to stay awake or suppress their appetite.
Because meth is so addictive, it takes over people’s lives as they pursue incredible highs that are followed by overwhelming crashes—and then they desperately attempt to recapture the high. Experts say it’s not uncommon for people who use meth to commit crimes that are out of character, such as stealing from family and friends, to obtain money for meth.