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What it Feels Like to Be Addicted to Drugs

What it Feels Like to Be Addicted to Drugs
Written by Seth Fletcher on September 8, 2020
Last update: February 26, 2024

It is extremely difficult to watch a loved one spiral out of control due to their drug addiction. Friends and family of the drug user can provide better support if they truly understand what the drug user is going through both physically and mentally. Whether the person is currently addicted to drugs or going through drug withdrawal, he or she is going through a tremendously challenging time both physically and emotionally. The experience can vary from person to person and depending on the addiction type and also depending on their history with the drug.


What drug addiction feels like in the beginning

The first time somebody takes a drug, the drug makes them feel good and then the high is over. The person may feel the same as what they felt before taking the drug. But as the drug use leads to drug addiction, the person starts feeling worse and worse after the ‘high’ feeling of the drug effects disappears. The person who used to feel normal without the drug now needs the drug to feel normal again.


What drug addiction feels like after extended use

An increase in the amount of drug used is typical when it the substance abuse lasts for an extended period. With every instance of drug use, the brain changes in such a way that more and more drug is required to reach the same “high” feeling as in the beginning. This often leads to a drug addiction. The person needs more drugs to feel normal again. This excess use can lead to an overdose.


Physical and mental health effects of substance abuse and drug withdrawal

No matter how much drug the person takes, depression eventually sets in. This leads to a substance abuse cycle where an increase in drug is used to reduce the level of depression, yet the state of depression becomes more severe after multiple uses. This increase in negative feelings when not using the drug makes it very difficult to stop. Quitting a drug addiction leads to excruciating physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. This is one of the reasons why many drug users have a hard time quitting. Even though they want to break away from their addiction, they continue to use the drug to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.


What it feels like to be addicted to drugs and to go through drug withdrawal;


What it feels like physically to be addicted to drugs

What it feels like mentally to be addicted to drugs

Substance abuse


  • The entire body feels warm
  • Fast heartbeat for 2-5 minutes
  • Numbness for about 10-30 minutes of the throat and tongue (snorted)
  • Numbness of the mouth (smoked)
  • Numbness at the injection site (injection)


  • Pain relief
  • Drowsy
  • Constipated
  • Physically agitated
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shallow or slow breathing rate
  • Poor coordination


  • Fast heartbeat for up to 30 minutes
  • Overactive
  • Sleep (crash) that can last 1-3 days
  • Starved and dehydrated after the crash


  • Reduced motor skills
  • Difficulty driving


  • Cravings
  • Alert
  • Excited
  • Overconfident
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoid
  • Agitated
  • Depressed


  • Euphoria
  • Irritable
  • Depressed
  • Low motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Disregard for responsibilities
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cravings

Methamphetamine (4-16 hours):

  • Argumentative
  • Delusional
  • Lost sense of identity
  • Intensively focused on a random object
  • Mentally hyperactive
  • Unable to sleep for days
  • Intense itching
  • Belief that things are crawling on the skin
  • Hostile
  • Dangerous to himself and others
  • Potential for self-mutilation
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Cravings


  • Difficulty to perform at work
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Distorted thinking
  • Heightened senses (intense colours, sounds and smells)
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Risky behaviour

Drug withdrawal

  • Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Loss of ability to feel pleasure
  • Decreased appetite
  • Suicidal

The substance abuser may not feel all of the adverse effects that the drug is having on the body and mental health. Certain bodily and brain damage occur quietly in the background. Learn more about the adverse drug effects of various substances on the body and mental health.


The Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA) is here to help

The Canadian Centre for Addictions (CCFA) offers a full range of quality services that give our visitors flexible therapy ad counselling for drug and alcohol addiction. Contact us now, and ask about our addiction program.


Sources used for the article

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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