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Meth Paranoia: Does Methamphetamine Cause Paranoia?

Paranoia from taking meth

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One of  the numerous crystal meth side effects is paranoia. The risk increases with a long-term abuse. Meth paranoia is a severe condition. Thus, one should seek an immediate medical care.

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Table of Contents

Meth Paranoia Overvierview

Crystal meth is a crystalline form of Amphetamine. It has no medical value, and its use is illegal. But, Amphetamine is a proper medication. Doctors use it to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
It is one of the most abused illicit drugs in the world. A 2011 DEA report shows almost 12 million Americans used it at least once in their lifetime. Currently, meth abuse is a nationwide drug problem in the US.
Paranoia is a distortion in the perception of one’s self and security. It causes them to think that everyone is conspiring against them. They exhibit a hostile behavior and may harm others. Also, they have a false sense of self-importance. It is a symptom of an underlying mental disorder. For example, schizophrenia or drug abuse. Yet, having paranoia does not mean they have a full-blown schizophrenia.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders provides criteria for classifying mental disorders. It says paranoia is not a disease in its own terms. In fact, it is a symptom of a complicated disorder. They call it Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD).
Addicts who have a long history of meth abuse may develop a similar distortion in their thoughts. They call it meth paranoia. The risk is higher in those who smoke, snort or inject it. So, taking by mouth is less risky.

Symptoms Of Meth Paranoia

The symptoms of meth paranoia may include:

  • Listening to the voices that are not real
  • Having irrational beliefs
  • Unusual perception of sound, vision, or touch

Moreover, some patients may have olfactory hallucinations. It means they sense the smell that is not present in the environment. Some may have a false belief that someone is aware of their thoughts.
Other symptoms may include:

  • Seeing things that do not exist
  • A false belief that they do not have any mental health issue. As a result, they do not need any treatment.
  • Experiencing a physical contact with an imaginary object or surface

The link between meth and paranoia is well known. In the medical world, they call it meth-induced paranoia (MIP).
But, only a few studies have attempted to differentiate MIP from the paranoia due to other causes.
Meth and Paranoia
Meth enhances the release of a brain chemical. They call it dopamine. As a result, it produces heightened alertness and euphoric feelings. Furthermore, it improves memory, language function, and processing of signals in the brain.
Many studies suggest an increased dopamine level may lead to the symptoms of schizophrenia. They call this “dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia.” In fact, many medications for schizophrenia reduce the brain dopamine level.
Long-term meth abuse may also cause some structural changes in the brain. Notably, the dopamine system is overactive in these patients.
The changes in brain chemistry and structure have a combined effect on how users think and behave. As a result, the classical symptoms of paranoia are developed. They include hallucinations and changes in thought processing. Additionally, they may fail to respond normally to external stimuli.

Meth Abuse And Psychosis

Many researchers believe there is a link between meth and paranoia. Nonetheless, only a few studies have attempted to find a direct link.
But, the association between meth abuse and psychosis is well established. They call it meth-induced psychosis or stimulant psychosis.
Psychosis is not a disease. Rather it is a symptom. In most cases, it is a hallmark of schizophrenia. A Study suggests meth-induced psychosis and schizophrenia may have a common genetic link.
The tendency of self-harm is high among the meth paranoia patients. Moreover, they may get illegal weapons to safeguard themselves.
Meth paranoia and other mental disorders have similar symptoms. For this reason, recognizing it is a challenge for the clinicians. Health professionals should check substance abuse history before starting treatment.

What Users Can Do About Meth Paranoia?

If someone has meth paranoia, talk to an addiction counselor. They can provide accurate information on a variety of addiction-related topics. Their knowledge and experience are invaluable to journey to sobriety. In fact, with their guidance, a patient can expect a swift and complete recovery.
Addiction centers have every resource to help someone with an addiction. They have qualified medical professionals and individualized addiction treatment plans. Moreover, they also have provisions for auxiliary care.
Need a professional help to fight an addiction or meth paranoia? Get the best rehabs page here.

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  1. Martin H. Leamon, Keith Flower, Ruth E. Salo, Thomas E. Nordahl, Henry R. Kranzler, Gantt P. Galloway. Methamphetamine and Paranoia: The Methamphetamine Experience Questionnaire. The American Journal on Addictions. 2010 Mar-Apr; 19(2): 155–168.
  2. Travis A. Wearne, Jennifer L. Cornish. A Comparison of Methamphetamine-Induced Psychosis and Schizophrenia: A Review of Positive, Negative, and Cognitive Symptomatology. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2018.
  3. Hart CL, Marvin CB, Silver R, Smith EE. Is cognitive functioning impaired in methamphetamine users? A critical review. Neuropsychopharmacology (2012) 37:586–608.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


Leave a comment

  • Molly Lindsey
    Is someone here I can talk to.
    • Edward
      Hey Molly! Please call (888)-459-5511, professionals at Delphi Health Group will be glad to help You and answer all of your questions.Best wishes, Edward
  • James
    My son has abused meth. He has been diagnosed as ADHD. I gave him a drug test that came back negative. He has acted paranoid off and on.
  • Lisa D Chastain
    My fiance is using meth and I’d always accusing me of talking to other men. He says he can hear the other man on the other end of the phone?!
    • Megan
      My issue is the same as Lisa’s … he’s always accusing me of me having or talking to guys when I’m home alone with my son. And only accuses me when he uses.. I don’t understand the drug
      • Jessica Jamerson
        I have been going through the same thing. My husband has accused me over and over again of cheating…talking to other men…and I’m not doing ANYTHING. I was so miserable…I left him. Thanks to meth.
    • Trace
      Mine too Its ending us
  • Jess
    My husband just checked himself into rehab. He is a meth addict and has been using for a year and a half now. I pray this works because I don’t want to leave him alone and take our two beautiful daughters from him. But if he uses again when he gets out- that is the only choice I have. I can’t have their dad high around them. He is eratic and impulsive when using.
  • Luke
    I used meth for 2 years, I also smoked marijuana for 10. Quit them both 2 months ago by underline reason for using . Depression. I have anxiety. Bipolar depression, / meth only worsened my condition my last come down was the worst . I believed everyone was undercover cops. And that my friends were all fake and were against me at times when they just wanted to hang out. I thought people were in my house if I left the door open when I left so I would get back and check the house and check every room closet , I even checked the attic and this is even weeks after being clean so the 2 years I used was long enough to cause me some permanent brain damage . And MIP, so anyone using I recommend quitting asap! And get help it’s a terrible drug that destroys your brain and family and I do not recommend it for anyone . Especially anyone with mental disorders.
    • Nicki
      Luke, you said you were still feeling the paranoia and erratic behavior 2 weeks after being sober? I found out about a month and a half ago that my boyfriend was using meth. He stopped for maybe a couple weeks then started again. I knew something wasn’t right but he lied about it, I caught him 2 weeks ago. Since, he says he hasn’t don’t it. He swears to me and he’s convincing….but I can’t tell something isn’t right. He’s still having trouble sleeping, when he does finally fall asleep, he sleeps…but it takes him a while. And the paranoia is still there. I can tell he’s trying to hide it, but he can’t help but blurt things out. I don’t know what to do, where to start or what kind of help to get him. Any suggestions on what I can do to help or what to expect?
  • Gladis valdez
    I agree with u 100 percent why do they use it. Everyone who has used it has been abused in some way get to the bottom.of that then that’s when there will be a great recovery you dont see a healthy rich person happy on meth do you? No there is something in their past and thats where ro start at.
  • Gladis VALDEZ
    Meth or any drug is evil ans controls ur mind you end up dpibg stupid s**t yes we know.? But if your love one has fallen there dont just walk away try to figure out what made them choice that path and get them help. Noine is perfect we learn from our mistakes but sometimes we need someone to say its ok we can beat this. Once you use it meth controls the person its not the person itself nomore.
  • Diana Amann
    My daughter has developed meth paranoia. Everything I read tells me to take her to a doctor or hospital. Not everyone has health insurance! She has no insurance and no money. She is 57. I am 77 and live on SS. I can’t find an answer to the question: what do we do when she has no insurance? We live in Tennessee, one of 6 states that refused the Medicaid part of Obamacare.