When Meth Addiction Turns Violent
Meth addiction can change a person in ways never thought imaginable, including inducing what’s known as meth rage. This article discusses the dangers and complications of meth rage violence.
Anger and Meth Addiction
Understanding Meth Rage
Does meth make people violent? Meth addiction can change a person in ways never thought imaginable, including inducing what’s known as meth rage. Becoming violent while using meth is scary for everyone, including the user. Meth can make you do things you would never do under normal circumstances. So it’s no surprise that meth increases incidents of violence.
It mostly comes down to science. Studies show that the chemical properties of meth result in increased aggression and poor decision-making, among other negative side effects. Also, drug use can uncover pre-existing issues, including anger issues or mental disorders. And of course, that’s why meth is so dangerous, both for the person abusing them and the people around them.
Meth Addiction and Violence
Contrary to popular belief, addiction isn’t a choice. It is a disease. A true addict endures physical, mental, and emotional changes to their body. If addiction continues for long periods, these changes may become more detrimental.
A drug user’s behavior changes mentally because an addicted person believes that nothing is more important than feeding their addiction. Therefore, it’s not unusual for an addicted person to go through mood swings, irritability, and experience irrational thoughts.
But violence is not necessarily a direct result of addictive behavior. While it’s very true that an addict can become violent, it isn’t clear whether the addictive substances cause the violence.
When it comes to the use of methamphetamine, however, it’s common for paranoid thoughts to cloud a user’s mind. It’s also common for self-control to be practically non-existent when deciding to act on paranoid or irritating thoughts.
It’s also true that using methamphetamine can result in a mental imbalance. However, in a study reported in Psychiatric News, Dr. Edythe London noted that drugs other than meth might also make people aggressive. London said that “a unifying mechanism (among addictive substances) that can lead to aggression is an imbalance between subcortical systems that promotes rapid responses to environmental stimuli…”
In other words, a mental imbalance (caused presumably by drugs or addiction) can promote an addict to “act before they think” and do things that they wouldn’t normally do. This could also account for the inability of an addicted person to make positive choices in their life.
How Does Meth Use Induce Violent Episodes?
The previously mentioned study indicated something unusual about the brain scans of meth users. For the meth users in the study, parts of the prefrontal cortex “(were) significantly less activated than in the same area in the control group.” That part of the brain is known to be involved in emotional insight.
Additionally, the meth-using group “had difficulty recognizing and describing emotional states.” This difficulty correlated with the group’s aggression scores. If a fault in this part of the brain is indeed responsible for more aggression in meth users, therapists may need to focus more on that area than other targets.
Remember that aggression by itself is not always wrong. Aggression is something animals use for survival. Other articles discuss “appetitive” aggressive behavior. In humans, this refers to positive feelings being associated with violent behavior. In animals, it refers to violent actions repeated to satisfy a specific need.
Perhaps there is at least a neurological link between violence and drug abuse. An additional study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that scientists were able to show that the parts of the brain in rodents that control aggressive appetitive behavior are similar to those that control drug-taking and seeking. This suggests that the neurobiological aggression and drug rewards are closely related.
Researchers found that one group of nervous system cells acted as a control mechanism for behavior. While this hasn’t been confirmed in humans, this suggests that negative aggression could be treated differently from drug addiction.
These might also interest you…
How Meth and Violence are Connected
So how are methamphetamine use and violent behavior connected? Can meth users become more violent just because of the drug?
Scientists collected data from interviews with more than 300 meth users. Is there a demonstrable link between crystal meth and domestic violence? The overall findings suggest that it’s not a guaranteed outcome. More than half of users who reported violent criminal behavior began that behavior before using meth. Therefore, violence may be related to things other than the meth itself.
At the same time, the study also noted that meth use could have existing exaggerated tendencies toward violence. Or, it was attributed to violence through other factors like cravings and paranoia. Based upon this study, a meth user becoming more violent includes additional outside factors.
The study noted that the perceived link between meth and violence might be related to physical or mental health issues and, in meth users, often paranoia. Meth paranoia is another symptom of meth abuse and psychological features such as visual and auditory hallucinations and delusions.
At the same time, earlier violent behavior or other issues before the meth use began significantly predicting violent criminal behavior. The use of other stimulant drugs (such as a crack) was also an indicator of future violence.
Because the study didn’t show meth use by itself to predict future violence, the results recommend an integrative approach toward methamphetamine use and violent behavior. Successful treatment should focus on using multiple treatment methods at the same time.
How To Handle a Violent Meth User
Drug abuse (and sometimes even withdrawal symptoms) can bring out aggressive tendencies that can become very dangerous. The addict and those near the addict are in danger of being hurt by this behavior.
When a meth user becomes aggressive, remain calm and avoid aggression yourself, this may incite the addict to become even more aggressive toward you. You can let the person know that you want to help them. Give the person some physical space so that they don’t feel trapped. If possible, get some items out of the person’s way so they can’t use them aggressively. Use an “open” body stance, “arms open, palms up, head lowered.”
Listen to them and let them know you understand as the person speaks. If the behavior intensifies, give the person a choice to help them feel like they’re still in control. You might say, “When you calm down, we can talk.”
When things calm down and the person is not high or intoxicated anymore, it may be possible to have a calm conversation about what happened.
Let them know you are concerned about them and firmly establish your boundaries. Let them know what kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Also, let them know that they need help, and you will guide them to do so. The truth is that you cannot continue to put up with this type of behavior from them.
If the meth user becomes aggressive with you and strikes you, the best thing you can do is attempt to deescalate the situation by remaining calm. If you feel appropriate, it’s good to contact the authorities and have them come and take the person in for attacking you.
After an incident like this, you may feel angry or depressed yourself. You may feel like you must avoid the person or that you have to calm them down from now on. These are normal emotions at a time like this.
It is good to have a safety plan in place if the aggressive behavior continues. Have a list of telephone numbers you can call to get help or go for help. This would include emergency housing, domestic violence services, medical centers, or even a nearby neighbor or friend.
Find a safe place you or your loved ones can go if needed. Keep important documents, identification, bank details/cards, and your mobile phone to get to them easily if you must leave quickly.
The Truth about Meth and Anger
For certain, we can say that meth use affects the brain, potentially inciting violence, although those violent tendencies may have been present long before the meth was introduced.
Subsequently, meth paranoia is probably more a symptom of meth abuse than the cause of violence. There doesn’t seem to be a study linking meth paranoia and domestic violence rates. But studies of chronic meth users have revealed severe changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory.
Research in primate models reveals that meth alters areas of the brain associated with decision-making. It also hinders the brain’s ability to suppress counterproductive habitual behaviors. So an increase in “bad habits” may also be linked to meth addiction. The changes in brain structure may explain why meth addiction is so difficult to treat.
The good news is that some of the mental effects of meth addiction appear to be partially reversible. Those who begin the addiction recovery process have restored most normal brain functioning. Even those who have used meth for 15+ years can recover, live life, hold down a meaningful job, and ultimately achieve happiness.
A Meth User Shares Her Experience
A former meth user in recovery for over six years sat down to anonymously share her experience with meth and anger with us.
“At some point in time, the addiction my addiction to meth had to be justified and rationalized. These justifications included blaming others around me and igniting intense, angry feelings. At some points, I was no longer able to control my aggression. I would snap quickly and hurt those around me physically, only to come out of the meth rage shortly after and feel terrible for what I had done to my family members. Unfortunately, this is the nature of meth addiction. Ultimately, it isolates you from everyone you know and loves so that all you have is the drug.”
How to Get Help for Meth Rage
Being addicted to meth is scary. All control is lost, and you feel you’re being directed solely by your meth addiction. Even if you were a person who had emotional intelligence or was laid back and reserved, it could bring out the worst.
If you’re also beginning to have violent outbursts while using meth, you must know that it will only worsen with time if you don’t get help. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out or answer to resolve meth-induced rage.
The best and only way to truly resolve meth rage is to seek help for your meth addiction. The longer you wait, the worse your life can become. If you have a violent outburst on meth and do something you regret, you could end up in prison.
We hear people doing awful things while high on meth in the news. It’s not too far-fetched to think that it could happen to you if you don’t get help.
- When Addiction Gets Violent: Get Help And Get Out | Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior (ucla.edu)
- Don’t Blame Amygdala for Meth Users’ Aggression | Psychiatric News (psychiatryonline.org)
- What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
- Crystal Meth Inpatient Rehab Treatment Program – A Better Today Recovery Services (abtrs.com)
- What It’s Like When You Can’t Stop Using Meth – Recover Today (abtrs.com)
Reading Time: 9 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes One of the biggest fears many individuals have is getting fired from a job due to substance use. Whether you use it at work or
Reading Time: 6 minutes When you’re investing time and money into your health, it’s understandable to want to make sure you’re getting the best care possible. If you are