October 20, 2022

Does Meth Make You Paranoid?

Does meth make you paranoid? Yes, it does. In this resource, we dive into the scientific reasons behind meth paranoia and answer important questions.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on February 19, 2024

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Does Meth Make You Paranoid?

Does meth make you paranoid? It’s a question that many people ask when they start experiencing side effects from meth. Sometimes, the same question arises when someone else displays paranoid and suspicious behavior.  In this resource, we give you the information you need to know!
Searching for help with drug and/or alcohol addiction? Call us now at (800) 643-2108.

Meth and Paranoia

Meth affects its user’s brain chemistry, often resulting in symptoms such as psychosis or paranoia.

Paranoia is a mental health disorder where an individual is unaware of their surroundings- what is happening around them.

Meth users often fear that everyone around them is out to get them. After using, they feel they are being lied to, or even the closest people to them have malicious intentions.

Meth-induced paranoia also involves psychosis, a mental disorder that affects a person’s emotional and logical state.

The individual experiences hallucinations or delusions where they often claim to experience an event that never occurred. They will experience a lot of confusion and will be emotionally reactive.

Paranoia is often caused by psychosis, but both disorders go hand-in-hand. The Journal of Psychiatry Research found in 2018 that 36.5%1 of meth users develop psychosis. This was especially common in individuals who have been increasing their doses and using them more frequently.

Addiction is already a disease of isolation, so adding these effects can cause a meth user to burn bridges quickly.


The Dangers of Meth Paranoia

Meth-induced paranoia manifests itself with the following symptoms;

· Hallucinations
· Delusions
· Aggression and violence
· Skin sores
· Constant scratching or itching

Paranoia makes users increasingly aggressive with others and loses control over their impulses. They start hurting others and themselves by picking their skin and indulging in self-harming behavior.

In many cases, the hallucinations or delusions that the individual is experiencing are pretty scary, which can make them act hostilely.

Meth usage increases brain activity, making the individual believe that someone is trying to hurt them. In their paranoid thoughts and beliefs, their actions might hurt someone else.

Meth Paranoia-related Hallucinations

Hallucinations are not limited to just seeing or imagining events happening. They also include hearing someone or feeling strange sensations that are not occurring.

Some people feel as if bugs are crawling under their skin which is why they are constantly scratching or tearing their skin apart.

These kinds of events can further deteriorate the physical health of the individual. The lack of awareness of what they are suffering from and the consistent open wounds on their body can cause bacteria and viruses to grow.

These infections often go untreated, further worsening the life of the affected.

Meth and Delusions

Where hallucinations are described as imaginative events seen, heard, or felt, delusions can be defined as beliefs that are either not based on reality or are entirely made up.

A meth user might start believing that everyone around them is spying on or tricking them because they want to torture them. They might think the police are always following them because they are the hidden answer to a nationwide crisis.

They might also start perceiving every public message as a personal attack. A public announcement about clearing out a parking lot might be perceived as a threat to leave unless they don’t want to get hurt.

Meth Aggression and Hyperactivity

We have discussed aggression in paranoia, but hyperactivity is a common collaborator of attack. The individual might feel a boost of energy with no outlet to release it. In most cases, the only way an individual knows how to remove it is through hostile or sadistic behaviors with others.

Hence, their aggression feeds into something more significant and scarier.
The dangers of meth are not just limited to the ones who are affected but also to the family members or loved ones around the affected.

They become the target of misplaced aggression, bad decisions, and lack of knowledge on the part of the ones choosing to do drugs.

There is a higher rate of ADHD in meth users2, which is interesting, to say the least.

Why Does Meth Make You Paranoid?

When drugs are administered into your body, they integrate into the bloodstream and travel to your brain—the feeling of rush, euphoria, or calming down results from the stimulated brain.

When we use meth, we are kickstarting the same process. However, since this drug is a stimulant, it affects the release of neurotransmitters in our brains.

Norepinephrine and dopamine, the two transmitters that are responsible for creating euphoric effects, are stimulated. It increases energy and causes psychoactive effects. Meth works on both of these transmitters.3

The increased dopamine in the body gives us pleasurable feelings and energizes us enough to do all the activities we want. It also removes the body’s requirement for sleep, which helps the user stay awake longer.

Unlike other drugs, meth stays in the body for over 12 hours, so once administered, you are not likely to sleep for long periods.

It also means that the drug will remain in your brain for just as long, causing paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations from which the individual suffers.

You might believe that the meth used is pure, but loose packets sold on the streets are also mixed with toxic substances, such as battery acid or drainage cleaners.

Hence, it is not just the drug affecting your brain but also the other chemical toxins you inject yourself with.

These foreign bodies exist in your body and brain for 12 hours. With consistent use, your body does not get a break from trying to reverse the effects of meth, which is to say that your body is tirelessly trying to protect itself with no sleep and no recovery time.

All of these strange habits and stimulants cause neurological disturbances. Hence, long-term use of the drug results in paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and aggression, all of which occur because the brain no longer knows how to function normally without the drug being present.

What To Do When You’re On Meth And Feeling Paranoid?

A common symptom of paranoia is a lack of self-awareness. It is not likely for an individual to understand that they are suffering from paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions.

This is because they are no longer in touch with reality and cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagination.

However, if a case occurs where an individual understands that they are suffering from an abnormal feeling, the very first step would be to stop taking the drug and ask the nearest person for help, whether it be family, friends, or loved ones.

Once someone else knows your situation, they can jump in to help. They can take away any drugs you possess and bind you to a single room. Taking preventive measures can also ensure that you do not become a threat to yourself or those trying to help you.

The next step would be to call professionals for help. A meth user will have many episodes if they are paranoid, which is not something that can be handled without professional expertise. Hence, calling the nearest addiction center would be the best decision.

When help arrives, the professionals will be able to sedate the individual and transfer them to a recovery center. Medical professionals will understand the situation and administer the medications required to provide immediate relief.

They will question family, friends, and loved ones to better understand the case and proceed as required for the individual’s survival.

At Cornerstone Healing Center, any patient coming in for drug abuse recovery has to go through the phases of detox, in-patient therapy and counseling, and aftercare.

Detoxing the body of the damaging substance is extremely important. Any leftover drug or substance can cause a craving or worsen the individual’s condition. During this withdrawal period, there will be a lot of physical and mental pain, but being under the 24/7 supervision of professionals will prevent relapse.

Once the individual stabilizes, our highly empathetic team members will conduct individual and group therapy sessions. Their main aim is to get to the root cause of the problem- why did drug abuse begin in the first place? – and eliminate the cause.

The clients will also have a group of people who are suffering from the same issues, will be able to find their group support, and will also learn relapse prevention techniques.
After recovery, the individual will be allowed to reintegrate into society and slowly settle into a regular life routine.

Our compassionate team will continue to provide them with aftercare and will be present to help them during any difficult time of life.

How Do You Handle Someone Who Is On Meth And Paranoid?

Someone suffering from an episode of meth-induced paranoia or psychosis will be the biggest threat to those around them. During the episode, they are likely to become aggressive and attack people.

If you are around someone suffering from such an episode, the ideal way to handle the situation would be to call a crisis helpline. While help comes, try to avoid confrontation with them regarding their drug problems or faulty beliefs, and find ways of comforting them.

How To Recognize A Paranoia Episode

There are a lot of changed behaviors that make it easier to recognize a paranoia episode. Such as;

· High alertness or overactive behavior
· Talking too fast with no actual structure or understanding of what they are saying
· Aggressive behavior, such as shouting and yelling at random people without reason
· Sweating profusely or widened eyes

Asking them about drug usage in a straightforward manner might further aggravate them. They might feel you do not believe what they are saying or are trying to belittle their feelings.

However, you can find out whether they have been on drugs or not by asking indirect questions. Ask them whether they have slept lately or ask them to explain their beliefs further to figure out if they are irrational (people are trying to kill me).

Try to probe about their medical history or any sort of psychiatric diagnosis that they have to eliminate the possibility of paranoia for other reasons.

What To Do If Someone Is Showing Signs Of Methamphetamine Psychosis?

Empathy and humanity often urge us to help individuals despite the obvious threats, but it is essential to prioritize your safety before theirs.

A meth user experiencing paranoia can quickly become hostile and attack you. Their high energy levels and unpredictable behavior can be hazardous.

During this time, try to:

· Maintain distance.
· Speak softly.
· Avoid touching them.
· Avoid maintaining direct eye contact, as that can be intimidating.
· Please do not argue with them.
· Reassure them and provide them with any comfort possible.
· Avoid confrontation and show patience.

If your loved one is suddenly having an episode, it will come as a shock and will anger you. Remember, the more you react, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Where you have control over your emotions and actions, they do not.

So maintain your patience and show empathy. Wait for professional help to reach you and get them any help that can save their lives.

How long does a meth-induced paranoia episode last?

There is no dedicated timeline to how long an episode can last. It could be a few hours, a day or two, or sometimes up to a week. Often, it’s falling asleep that finally ends the episode for the user.

In some cases, the attack subsides when proper medication is given and the individual receives help.

What kind of treatment options are available?

Cornerstone Healing Center offers rehabilitation programs to help individuals overcome their meth addiction with proper guidance and therapy.

What is the first thing I should do when discovering a loved one in a paranoid state?

Maintain your calm. The more you react, the worse the situation becomes. Call for assistance and try to calm the individual down in the meantime. The next thing to do is reach out and discuss available treatment options for your loved one.

If you’re in danger, you should immediately dial 911.

However, if not, we’d love to be able to help you by providing treatment for your loved one if we can. Give us a call at (800) 643-2108.


[1] A Comparison of Methamphetamine-Induced Psychosis and Schizophrenia: A Review of Positive, Negative, and Cognitive Symptomatology

[2] Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults Using Methamphetamine: Does It Affect Comorbidity, Quality of Life, and Global Functioning?

[3] The Effects of Amphetamine and Methamphetamine on the Release of Norepinephrine, Dopamine, and Acetylcholine From the Brainstem Reticular Formation

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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