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  • Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant drug that can produce intense but brief euphoric effects. However, the drug causes changes in the brain that encourage frequent and heavy use. 

    Meth use and withdrawal can cause dangerous health effects, including anxiety and paranoia. 

    Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in the United States. Untreated anxiety disorders can lead to substance use to cope with uncomfortable symptoms. Conversely, untreated addiction can lead to substance-induced anxiety disorders. 

    Anxiety Disorders 

    Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, yet only a small percentage seek treatment. Unfortunately, many people seek relief from symptoms through drugs or alcohol.

    Common anxiety disorders include:

    Risk Factors & Symptoms

    There are several risk factors for anxiety disorders, including family history, trauma, environment, and co-occurring substance use disorders. Stimulants like meth can cause or worsen existing anxiety symptoms because of its effect on the central nervous system.

    Anxiety can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

    • fears
    • racing thoughts
    • decreased concentration
    • increased heart rate
    • rapid breathing
    • chest pain

    Anxiety & Meth Dual Diagnosis

    Studies on anxiety and methamphetamine abuse have found meth caused anxiety symptoms in 76% of the participants. Nearly 40% of that group reported a history of a co-occurring anxiety disorder. 

    When someone has a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental illness, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis

    How Can Meth Cause Anxiety?

    Meth’s effects can happen almost immediately and may consist of increased energy, wakefulness, and euphoria. The euphoric effects are caused by a significant increase in the production of dopamine in the central nervous system (CNS). 

    This can cause several physical side-effects, including:

    • faster breathing
    • rapid heartbeat
    • high blood pressure 
    • increased body temperature

    These side-effects are also symptoms of anxiety disorders and a response by the body’s fight-or-flight system. 

    Changes In Mood & Behavior

    Meth causes changes in the similar areas of the brain that are affected when someone experiences an anxiety disorder. Chronic drug abuse can lead to changes in mood and behavior, often resulting in increased anxiety, paranoia, or psychotic symptoms

    Long-term effects of meth include:

    • severe anxiety
    • confusion
    • insomnia
    • mood changes
    • violent behavior
    • hallucinations
    • delusions

    Methamphetamine Withdrawal & Anxiety

    In addition to causing anxiety while intoxicated, meth can also cause anxiety once someone stops using the drug. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance. Crystal meth, a smokable and more potent form of meth, is even more dangerous. 

    The short-lived effects of the drug can lead to a cycle of frequent binge and crash periods. During a crash, the brain has lost the excess dopamine produced when someone is using meth. This can cause a person to feel low, depressed, and anxious. 

    If someone doesn’t continue to use meth during a crash period, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of meth withdrawal

    Along with anxiety, other meth withdrawal symptoms may include:

    • fatigue
    • depression
    • intense cravings
    • increased appetite
    • sleep problems

    Lasting Anxiety

    Studies on rats found that the animals showed significant anxiety symptoms for at least the first two weeks of withdrawal. Other studies have found humans experienced anxiety symptoms for several weeks after stopping meth. 

    A study reported in the National Library of Medicine found the following facts on meth withdrawal:

    • rate of anxiety in the general population is 4%
    • rate of anxiety among meth dependent individuals was 34.3%
    • 20% experienced mild anxiety
    • 2.4% experienced severe anxiety 

    Severe Anxiety

    Frequent and heavy methamphetamine use is also associated with more severe anxiety withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety can persist during withdrawal for several weeks or longer, depending on how long and how often someone used meth. 

    Medical detox can help manage symptoms of anxiety during withdrawal. Detoxes provide 24/7 care and may provide medications to help comfort severe symptoms. 

    Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Meth Addiction & Anxiety Disorders

    If someone has substance-induced anxiety, it is likely that anxiety symptoms will fade over time. Although anxiety can be difficult to cope with, a comprehensive treatment program can improve anxiety while treating addiction. 

    Addiction treatment options may include:

    Most of these services are usually available in both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs. After being assessed by a specialist, you will take part in creating a personalized treatment plan. 

    Doctors, nurses, and addiction specialists will collaborate to help treat the co-occurring disorders in a safe and supportive setting. 

    If you or a loved one would like more information on methamphetamine addiction and co-occurring disorders, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Anxiety And Depression Association Of America (ADAA) - Facts And Statistics
    National Center For Biotechnology Information (NCBI) - Anxiety
    National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) - What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Methamphetamine Misuse?
    National Library Of Medicine - Anxiety Disorders Among Methamphetamine Dependent Adults: Association With Posttreatment Functioning
    National Library Of Medicine - Anxiety Level And Correlates In Methamphetamine-Dependent Patients During Acute Withdrawal

    Medically Reviewed by
    Davis Sugar, M.D.
    on June 26, 2022
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