Is Crystal Meth Becoming More Addictive Than Heroin?

Table Of Contents

Meth (methamphetamine) and heroin are both highly addictive drugs that can impact your life in numerous ways. Not only can they affect your physical and mental health, but they can ruin your life - your relationships, finances, family, and career can all be destroyed by excessive drug use and drug addiction.
In recent years, meth addiction has been highlighted in the media through TV shows such as Breaking Bad - but does this apparent rise in popularity mean that it’s becoming more addictive than other hard drugs like heroin? That’s what this page is going to explore. Read on to learn more about crystal meth, heroin, and which drug is the most addictive. We’ll also be exploring the effects of these drugs, and comparing the withdrawal symptoms.

What is Crystal Meth?

Methamphetamine is an illicit stimulant that is colourless and resembles small glass rocks. It is a synthetic (manmade) drug that was previously used by soldiers in WW2 to stay awake. Some other historic uses of crystal meth included losing weight or relieving symptoms of depression. Many people take crystal methamphetamine as it has a high purity level and produces long-lasting effects. The effects of methamphetamine can last for up to 12 hours, ultimately depending on the method of consumption. Meth users will consume the drug in a variety of ways - for example, they may inject it into their bloodstream. However, it appears that most meth users will smoke crystal meth in a pipe, similar to how crack cocaine is consumed.

Effects of Meth

Meth is not only a highly addictive substance, but long-term methamphetamine misuse can put you at an increased risk of a range of health issues. For example, meth can lead to increased blood pressure - and high blood pressure is linked to poor heart health. It can put a strain on the heart, and lead to strokes. Another effect of meth is decreased appetite, which can lead to severe weight loss. You may have heard the term ‘meth mouth’ - a term that describes the severe dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease that crystal meth can cause. There are many other negative effects of meth, from changes in the brain and mental health issues to meth overdose.

Crystal Meth Addiction Explained

Meth is a highly addictive substance - meth use can ultimately lead to you developing a psychological addiction as well as a physical addiction. Statistics from the UNODC World Drug Report (2021) highlighted the prevalence of methamphetamine around the world, with methamphetamine accounting for 72% of all amphetamine-type stimulants being seized globally between 2015 and 2019. But why is meth so addictive? There are several reasons why many meth users develop a methamphetamine addiction. Meth affects the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain - serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation - so when you take meth, you’ll notice a surge in these levels which can lead to euphoria. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain associated with memory, appetite, and mood regulation. When you abuse meth, your body will struggle to regulate these chemicals, which can lead to you feeling miserable, anxious, depressed, and generally lethargic when you don’t take meth. Many people will continue to take the drug to stop these negative sensations and to feel ‘normal’. Drug addiction is characterised by the lack of control over taking a drug. If you have a meth addiction, you may be aware of the negative consequences that the drug can have or is having on you, but continue to take it. Likewise, you may have the desire to stop, or have tried to stop, but to no avail. This is why it’s so important to seek help for your addiction. This is where our team at Help4Addiction can help - we can get you in touch with the right rehab clinic for you to break your addiction to drugs once and for all. See ‘Treatment for Drug Abuse and Addiction’ to learn more about how we can help you, and more about the addiction treatment process.

Heroin vs Meth Addictiveness

Heroin is the fastest-acting opioid and is also the most abused opioid according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Approximately 13.5 million people in the world take opioids, and out of this figure, 9.2 million people are heroin users. Heroin is a highly addictive substance. It is estimated that over 13.5 million people in the world take opioids/ opium-like substances, and 9.2 million of those people are heroin users. It is not uncommon to develop heroin dependence. Regarding methamphetamine, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that almost 500 metric tonnes per year of methamphetamine were produced, with over 24.7 million meth abusers. Both heroin and meth use can lead to physical and psychological dependence, but it’s difficult to determine which is the most addictive. Drugs affect everybody differently, and both meth and heroin can result in severe dependence. That being said, meth is becoming more and more available and becoming more prevalent on the party scene for its long-lasting highs. Methamphetamine overdoses are rising, with more than 16,500 people having a fatal meth overdose back in 2019.

Crystal Meth vs Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Both meth and heroin withdrawal can be difficult - both varying in severity depending on the severity of the addiction, as well as other factors such as height, weight, and medical history. When withdrawing from these drugs, you’ll feel intense cravings - as well as a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Withdrawal is often the most severe during the first 24 hours, becoming less intense over the space of a week or two. However, both meth and heroin withdrawal can last longer, with milder symptoms and cravings persisting. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal often begin between six and 12 hours after your last dose and tend to peak after one to three days. However, some people can experience PAWS - post-acute withdrawal syndrome - which can last for weeks or months. Withdrawing from crystal meth and heroin can be tough - and sometimes even dangerous. Many cases call for inpatient rehab with a medically-assisted detox. Contact our team to arrange your heroin or meth detox today.

Treatment For Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Once you understand that you have an addiction to crystal meth, heroin, or other drugs, you can seek treatment and attend drug rehab. Addiction can be difficult to recover from without the right support, which is why our friendly team of experts at Help4Addiction can work to match you with the right treatment plan at the right drug rehab facility. Whether you’re looking for inpatient rehab/ residential rehab, outpatient addiction treatment, private rehab, luxury rehab or NHS-operated rehab, we can connect you with the right rehab clinic that matches your requirements, preferences, budget and circumstances. Read on to learn more about the crystal meth addiction treatment process.

Drug Detoxification

To proceed with rehab, you will need to undergo a drug detox to free your body from the physical dependence. The length of time it can take to detox from drugs such as crystal meth can vary depending on factors such as your medical history, weight and height, and of course, the severity of your addiction. The general rule of thumb is that the longer you’ve been dependent on a substance, the longer it will take to successfully detox from it. You may benefit from a medically assisted detox, or you may prefer to detox from home. This is something that will be discussed during your initial consultation. During this stage, you’ll likely experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which is why many people prefer to detox from drugs at a rehab centre. Detoxification addresses the physical aspect of addiction - and doesn’t deal with the psychological and social aspects. This is something that is covered in addiction therapy.

Drug Addiction Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often provided during rehab. This is based on the idea that your behaviour, thoughts and feelings are linked. You may also be offered group therapy and family therapy. Ultimately, addiction therapy aims at improving your confidence and well-being, as well as teaching you valuable coping mechanisms that you can implement in your everyday life. This can work to prevent relapse.


The transition from rehab back to your ‘normal’ life can be difficult - and this is a time when many people in recovery relapse. This is why you must have a solid support system in place. Aftercare, also known as secondary treatment, aims at providing you with ongoing support throughout your addiction recovery journey. Whether you contact a helpline, online support, or continue counselling, aftercare can be extremely helpful. Reach out to our team at Help4Addiction today to discuss your treatment options and to get the ball rolling on the admissions process. You’re not alone with your meth addiction, and we are here for you.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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