Why Crystal Meth Is So Dangerous

Written by Steve Rose

Steve Rose, PhD, is an addiction counsellor and former academic researcher, committed to conveying complex topics in simple language.

On the go? Listen to the audio version of the article here:

During my time working in a withdrawal facility, I quickly came to realize that crystal meth is likely the most dangerous drug.

Although crystal meth is not nearly as likely to cause an overdose compared to fentanyl, and the physical withdrawal symptoms are mild in comparison, crystal meth is the most psychologically dangerous drug in widespread use.

Crystal meth is probably the drug that is most likely to destroy your life in the shortest amount of time. Although users are more likely to stay alive, compared to opioids, many people describe it as feeling like they are dead, while still being alive.

This drug has the potential to cause rapid mental and physical deterioration, turning someone into a shell of their former selves.

So why is crystal meth so dangerous?

Crystal meth provides a dopamine spike more powerful than any other drug. This initially makes a person feel invincible, seducing them into centering their life around the drug, leading to extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and an inability to function in day-to-day life.

In order to understand why crystal meth is so dangerous from a first-hand perspective, I interviewed a fellow recovery advocate named Launa. Her experience using crystal meth powerfully illustrates why this drug is so destructive.

Here’s Launa’s story of addiction to crystal meth, in her own words.

Crystal Meth Is Psychologically Dangerous 

From the first day, I smoked meth, I never went without it until the day I quit.

When I was using crack, there were days to weeks in between where I just took pills instead, but when I started using meth, it consumed my thoughts and I was just focused on getting more before it was gone. There were very few days that I didn’t have it, and nothing else appeased me.

I’m grateful that during my time using drugs, the fentanyl wasn’t popular, to my knowledge. Meth is harder to overdose on compared to other drugs, but I feel it is probably the worst drug I have done for my own safety because of the lost days and focus on things.

Crystal Meth Is Powerfully Seductive 

When I first smoked meth, I felt on top of the world. I instantly labeled it my best friend and knew I would never go without it. I felt like everything in the world made sense. All my senses were enhanced. I felt smarter, like colors were brighter, and sounds were clearer.

As crazy as it sounds, I felt prettier, and I liked the person who looked me back in the mirror—in the beginning. Every other drug I did was on a different level, and I never felt any other drug was my best friend.

The world seemed like a greater place like a fog was lifted off my eyes, and all was beautiful. I had more energy and wanted to go out and do things, whereas other drugs had me wanting to hide and not be seen.

In the beginning, I was able to maintain all my responsibilities as a single mom. I would be on the go, cleaning, cooking, dropping my daughter off at daycare, taking her out to parks, walking everywhere, and reading her books.

I attended playdates and was full of energy. I enjoyed reading on many different subjects and felt that I was gaining much knowledge. I could sit and be completely focused on the topic of interest, often reading completely through the night and was able to be awake for my daughter when she awoke.

I would help people with their yard work or house cleaning and began cooking many different foods from different countries. It felt as though I could do everything everyone wanted me to do, fulfill all my obligations, as well as have the energy to do everything I wanted to do.

The lure of this short-lived top-of-the-world experience was insane, and I still feel it to this day.

The Downward Spiral of Crystal Meth

Sadly, this top-of-the-world phase was short-lived a couple months max. My activities soon became much more self-focused but it happened in such a way that I didn’t even realize it was happening.

I still maintained taking my child to her activities; however, when she was in school, I would try and force myself to sleep, and I couldn’t because I was high, and I became nervous people knew. I spent hours trying to make myself sleep or showering trying to not look high.

All the positives quickly became very negative high anxiety, total dependency, hearing voices. I would hide on myself in the closet and actually argue with myself.

It was a very steady progression into a living hell.

I would become paranoid people knew, but when my children’s aid worker would come by and didn’t notice, I felt no one knew and would actually begin conversing with myself from both sides.

In the moment, I didn’t realize that I was so crazy. I’m so grateful nothing horrible happened to my child at that time. I would drive her in the car to activities and didn’t realize at the time that it was unsafe. After I had given my daughter to a kin program, I began smoking an obscene amount and became completely different.

At one point, when I was on meth, I stopped paying bills and became homeless. It was like I didn’t even care.

Losing Track Of Time On Crystal Meth

I would spend hours that were lost, unaware of what I was doing. Sometimes I thought I had fallen asleep, only later to hear that I was literally standing by a tree, arguing with a squirrel who had stolen my pants, and well… there were no squirrels.

I found there were many time-lapses like this.

I would sit in front of a mirror and used knives to get out blackheads that I thought I saw, and hours later, I would still be doing it. I didn’t realize I had been doing it for that long, and in the end, I would have peeled off layers of skin.

I would also pick at an ingrown toenail until I had nothing but a nub of the nail left, causing a great deal of infection.

It’s horrible—the time-lapse and total deep focus on an activity that is quite destructive.

I fell out of any form of reality and didn’t realize that it had happened. With my daughter around, I was semi-coherent, but now that was gone, and I didn’t function in any realm of normalcy at all.

I would set out to clean, pulling apart everything and not seeming to comprehend how to get it back together.

This is where all the alter egos came in. I felt that I was three people in my brain. I had one that was fearless, wanting to drive fast, and do crazy things. We’d laugh and laugh. I also had the boss personality who was very mean, and I was always fearful it would come out. I felt like I was afraid of myself and this personality that wanted to hurt me and wanted me to hurt people.

The Sexual Allure of Crystal Meth 

There was another alter personality that was childlike. As much as it was childlike, it seemed to act out inappropriate sexual activities that were done to me as a child. I wanted to reenact the traumas of my life.

I would lose hours in masturbation and would have hours-long sexual exploits with the guy I was with, and we reenacted the traumas.

In the moment, you don’t feel the time or intensity of the activity. I do know I was often frustrated that I was not reaching the ecstasy I was seeking when my partner was complete, and I would carry on until I felt complete.

The man I was with was clearly also using the drug and desired to help me reach my level of desired satisfaction with similar intensity and focused on that one outcome.

I can’t recall the exact number of hours it took; however, I recall watching the sun come up many times.

We also became crazy about having sexual experiences in public places. At night, we would smoke, have sex in parks, and in a car downtown Toronto.

Recovery From Crystal Meth Is Possible 

I didn’t want my daughters to have my legacy of a dead mom because of her addictions.

I knew I was dying, and I had a 3-year-old. I figured the only way I could help her NOT be like me was to stop. I didn’t think I could stop, and I didn’t think anything could work since I thought I was too far gone.

I decided to try stopping one last time.

Several treatment centers turned me away, but Windsor Life Centre actually gave me a chance. I graduated from their 12-month treatment program and am now four years clean. I am now working full-time within this treatment centre, helping others like myself.

I want them to know there is a person inside that craziness they see. Also, no matter how bad things get, there is always a way out.

I started drugs at 8, taking my mom’s prescription painkillers. By 14, I was on cocaine. At 21, I went back to painkillers. At 35, I was on crack, and I got into Heroin at 40.

I started doing meth at 43, and this whole crazy downward spiral only took a year and a bit. Although it ruined my life fast, it actually quickened my recovery.

I was drugging my whole life, through pregnancies, college, and great jobs. Until I Started smoking meth, I never really felt despair. Before starting meth, I had been to prison, and it didn’t affect me like the depth of self-hatred and the demonic realm I felt with meth. I was never afraid of death, but I felt dead for the first time on meth.

Yet, if any drug was to suck me back in, meth would be it. That is the messed up thing. As much as I know the craziness, I can still remember the on top of the world feeling it first gave.

I won’t go back because I am way too stubborn, but sometimes the mind wants to remember and glorify that small window of time in the beginning.

Adjusting To Life After Crystal Meth 

Sobriety is not exciting like drug life. I don’t have to live in constant high alert. I’m not chasing after a high or experiencing the thrill of the adrenaline rush of getting caught.

But now, I get to experience love and true joys. I find my own happiness, and I can look into my children’s eyes and love what I see looking back at me.

I laugh now and feel things that aren’t just negative feelings. I do miss the rush and the craziness at times, but I am experiencing many new and wonderful things now. I still love speed now, I just get it in a go-cart or as a passenger in a car.

It is hard to not live in chaos when that is all you have ever known. The excitement is definitely a hard thing to let go of. You just have to find within yourself ways to find the joys and embrace the change. Life is not meant to be a heartbeat away from a heart attack, and constant chaos, and turmoil.

My best comparison for someone who has never used drugs would be the COVID-19 lockdown. You go from the hustle and bustle to nothing. It’s quiet days at home, no traffic, no hustle, no bustle, and no excitement… just quiet.

You can sit in the quietness and feel sorry for yourself, or you can paint the house, learn to cook, and find enjoyment.

I love to tell women who feel hopeless that there is hope. Life is now what I make of it, and I don’t have to hate myself anymore.

If you want to reach out, you can connect with me on Instagram here, or on Facebook here.


Fascinated by ideas? Check out my podcast:

Struggling with an addiction?

If you’re struggling with an addiction, it can be difficult to stop. Gaining short-term relief, at a long-term cost, you may start to wonder if it’s even worth it anymore. If you’re looking to make some changes, feel free to reach out. I offer individual addiction counselling to clients in the US and Canada. If you’re interested in learning more, you can send me a message here.

Other Mental Health Resources

If you are struggling with other mental health issues or are looking for a specialist near you, use the Psychology Today therapist directory here to find a practitioner who specializes in your area of concern.

If you require a lower-cost option, you can check out BetterHelp.com. It is one of the most flexible forms of online counseling. Their main benefit is lower costs, high accessibility through their mobile app, and the ability to switch counselors quickly and easily, until you find the right fit.

*As an affiliate partner with Better Help, I receive a referral fee if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

As always, it is important to be critical when seeking help, since the quality of counselors are not consistent. If you are not feeling supported, it may be helpful to seek out another practitioner. I wrote an article on things to consider here.

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  1. Brandy duhon

    I am in active addiction. I too want out. I am currnetly making the changes in my life to walk away from this monster. I know life is out there waiting for me and I cant wait to get back to it.

    • Steve Rose

      Hi Brandy, thank you for reaching out. Feel free to ask me any questions, if I could be of support. You can also reach out to Launa on Instagram or Facebook if you want to talk to someone who is in recovery. I wish you all the best and hope that perhaps some of the other articles on this site can be helpful.

  2. Mackenzie M.

    I’m 19 and in active addiction. I know this disease is turning me into someone I hate, but I feel powerless to fight it. I lie to myself about the manageability of my problem, but I know what the ultimate outcome is. Institutions, hospitals, and death. Using is the only thing that has ever made me feel alive and normal. I suffer from bipolar depression and have had this weight on my chest since I was eight years old. I don’t understand why using is the only thing that has ever worked and is simultaneously destroying my life. Recovery is something I desperately want, but I’m exhausted. It scares me honestly. I’m a person who is used to misery and whenever I come out of it, I anticipate it happening again and sabotage myself. I’m very self aware, but I still make the wrong decisions. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching myself ruin my life, my relationships, and my future from outside of myself. Like I’m a passenger in the car I’m supposed to be driving. I’ve done horrible things that i despise myself for, and I know I seem villainous to the people in my life who have been hurt by me. The thing is, I feel deeply and I love and care and empathize with most people. I feel like a scared child pretending to be brave. I wonder sometimes if I am beyond help, and beyond redemption. You can never make people forget what you’ve done, even if they forgive you. How do I live with myself when I will always have a past I am ashamed of? Recovery will ultimately save my life, but it may not fix it. I know it’s idiotic to expect a miracle cure, but the instant gratification of drugs is so tempting. I know that to experience pain serves a purpose, but it gets to be too much and too constant for me. Before I started using, my solution was suicidal ideation. I am so sad and angry that mental illness and addiction where the cards I was dealt in life, and although I may learn how to manage them, ultimately they never go away completely. It’s overwhelming to imagine a life long battle. I know NA emphasizes “just for today” but lately my todays don’t even feel like they belong to me anymore. I’m hanging on for dear life, but I long for rest, for peace. I wonder sometimes if I will only find that in death and drugs. I don’t know why I wrote all this. I guess I’m so lost I’m just hoping that someone can give me some answers.

    • Steve Rose

      Hi Mackenzie, it looks like you’re in a very tough spot and are highly self aware. If you’re interested, we can do a video call someone to discuss some options, if you’re interested. I’ll send a message to your email with some more information.


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