How long does meth hangover last

Crystal meth can destroy life - that's how dangerous the drug is

It's easy to make, cheap to buy, and quickly addicting: crystal meth is one of the most dangerous drugs of our time. The intoxicant increases performance for hours and days - and destroys people's health.

Crystal meth is a stimulant drug. According to the European Commission's 2018 drug report, the drug with the medical name methamphetamine with cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA is one of the "most widely used illegal stimulants".

The serious damage to health caused by crystal meth is well known, but the number of users in Germany is still increasing. One indication is the methamphetamine, which is found every year by the police and the drug search: In 2017, at 114.5 kilograms, it was the largest amount since the drug became known.

Crystal meth - what is it anyway?

Methamphetamine is one of the amphetamines, which, for example, also includes speed. Crystal meth is a chemical made from the active ingredient ephedrine. This is also added to cold and asthma medicines in low doses. The drug is available in the form of small crystals or as a powder. It is swallowed, sniffed, smoked or injected.

Crystal meth statistics: Large quantities of the drug were seized in 2017. (Source: Statista)

This is how crystal meth works in the brain

Methamphetamine is a psychoactive substance that increases attention, concentration and performance. Tiredness and hunger take a back seat, as does the sensation of pain and fears. On the other hand, self-confidence, feelings of happiness and euphoria increase.

These sensations are triggered because the substance ephedrine in crystal meth docks onto the nerve cells in the brain and stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. While norepinephrine as a stress hormone promotes concentration as well as reaction and performance, the happiness hormones dopamine and serotonin cause positive feelings in the brain.

Tremendously positive effect - then the hangover follows

Crystal meth users can go several days without sleep, according to the Center for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research (ZIS). How strong the effects occur and how long they last depends on the dose, the individual condition and the degree of habituation of the user.

When the intoxication is over, restlessness and irritability often occur, as well as listlessness, lethargy and depressive moods. With long-term and heavy consumption, personality changes, psychoses and fears can also be the consequences of metamphetamine, as well as perceptual disorders, paranoia and obsessive-compulsive thoughts.

Crystal meth: recognizing consumption

Some people only use methamphetamine in small amounts or in phases. Then they are not always clearly recognizable. However, there are some abnormalities in the behavior of those affected that can serve as clues. Several of the following symptoms could indicate a drug problem:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed pupillary response
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased need for communication
  • Strong urge to move
  • Exaggerated self-confidence
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Groundless contentiousness
  • Speech disorders, stuttering
  • Motor disorders
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness, tension, irritability, aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations, paranoia
  • Digestive problems (diarrhea and constipation usually alternating)
  • Frequent itching and scratching

Physical consequences of crystal meth

The physical consequences of crystal meth are significant. After the intoxication has subsided, severe side effects occur, some of which last for several days to weeks. These include:

  • dizziness
  • profuse sweating and overheating of the body
  • Palpitations with an increase in blood pressure
  • a headache
  • insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • severe exhaustion
  • Muscle spasms, tremors

Some of the long-term physical symptoms that consumption can bring about include:

  • Skin changes and inflammation
  • Underweight
  • Tooth damage from neglected oral hygiene
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain
  • an increased susceptibility to infection
  • an increased risk of stroke

Serious consequences for the heart
According to Fachverband Sucht e.V., the risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial diseases increases, it can lead to "chronic fatigue and shortness of breath due to the weakening and tissue enlargement of the heart muscle". Hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias could lead to aortic dissection and, in extreme cases, cardiac death. In addition, an increased risk of cerebral infarction is suspected. Because damage occurs within the nervous system, the risk of Parkinson's also increases.

The highly addictive potential of crystal meth

Methamphetamine is more likely to become dependent than many other stimulants. The reason is that the drug floods the brain very quickly and leads to a strong, intense experience of intoxication, according to the German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS). The long duration of action of several hours up to days brings the consumer a long-lasting feeling of elation.

When the drug wears off, a long and unpleasant mood ensues. As a result, the desire for more crystal meth is strong. To achieve the same stimulating effect as before, however, the dose must be increased. This quickly leads to a strong dependency and also to overdoses.

Why do people turn to crystal meth?

According to the DHS, crystal meth plays a rather minor role as a party drug. Due to its performance-enhancing and concentration-promoting effect, the drug is increasingly consumed by people with high occupational stress, for example in shift work and assembly line work. Managers, politicians, people in temporary or precarious jobs and students would also use methamphetamine. Most users take the drug for the first time around the age of 30.

The consumption of the drug is an attempt to meet the increased demands of the performance society, according to the DHS. Crystal meth is sometimes taken like a coffee substitute to counter performance drops and to remain active, alert, creative and focused. Outwardly, no methamphetamine-typical behavior is usually visible at first.

Lots of women use crystal meth

The proportion of women using them is relatively high compared to other illegal drugs. Many women report taking methamphetamine to cope with work, children, and household chores. Sometimes the appetite-suppressing and physical activity-enhancing effects of crystal meth are also used for weight loss.


A third of consumers consume almost every day. If there is a dependency, those affected can no longer cope with their tasks at a certain point, the drug dominates life. The exit is difficult: According to studies, around eleven percent of addicts can be helped.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

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