The Contact High of Drug Users

Drug Use and Addiction

The Contact High of Drug Users
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Also called: Drug abuse, Substance abuse

Drugs are chemical substances that can change how your body and mind work. They include prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

What is drug use?

Drug use, or misuse, includes

  • Using illegal substances, such as
  • Misusing prescription medicines, including opioids. This means taking the medicines in a different way than the health care provider prescribed. This includes
    • Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
    • Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
    • Using the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. For example, instead of swallowing your tablets, you might crush and then snort or inject them.
    • Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high
  • Misusing over-the-counter medicines, including using them for another purpose and using them in a different way than you are supposed to

Drug use is dangerous. It can harm your brain and body, sometimes permanently. It can hurt the people around you, including friends, families, kids, and unborn babies. Drug use can also lead to addiction.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. It causes a person to take drugs repeatedly, despite the harm they cause. Repeated drug use can change the brain and lead to addiction.

The brain changes from addiction can be lasting, so drug addiction is considered a «relapsing» disease. This means that people in recovery are at risk for taking drugs again, even after years of not taking them.

Does everyone who takes drugs become addicted?

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Everyone's bodies and brains are different, so their reactions to drugs can also be different. Some people may become addicted quickly, or it may happen over time. Other people never become addicted. Whether or not someone becomes addicted depends on many factors. They include genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.

Who is at risk for drug addiction?

Various risk factors can make you more ly to become addicted to drugs, including

  • Your biology. People can react to drugs differently. Some people the feeling the first time they try a drug and want more. Others hate how it feels and never try it again.
  • Mental health problems. People who have untreated mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more ly to become addicted. This can happen because drug use and mental health problems affect the same parts of the brain. Also, people with these problems may use drugs to try to feel better.
  • Trouble at home. If your home is an unhappy place or was when you were growing up, you might be more ly to have a drug problem.
  • Trouble in school, at work, or with making friends. You might use drugs to get your mind off these problems.
  • Hanging around other people who use drugs. They might encourage you to try drugs.
  • Starting drug use when you're young. When kids use drugs, it affects how their bodies and brains finish growing. This increases your chances of becoming addicted when you're an adult.

What are the signs that someone has a drug problem?

Signs that someone has a drug problem include

  • Changing friends a lot
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Losing interest in favorite things
  • Not taking care of themselves — for example, not taking showers, changing clothes, or brushing their teeth
  • Being really tired and sad
  • Eating more or eating less than usual
  • Being very energetic, talking fast, or saying things that don't make sense
  • Being in a bad mood
  • Quickly changing between feeling bad and feeling good
  • Sleeping at strange hours
  • Missing important appointments
  • Having problems at work or at school
  • Having problems in personal or family relationships

What are the treatments for drug addiction?

Treatments for drug addiction include counseling, medicines, or both. Research shows that combining medicines with counseling gives most people the best chance of success.

The counseling may be individual, family, and/or group therapy. It can help you

  • Understand why you got addicted
  • See how drugs changed your behavior
  • Learn how to deal with your problems so you won't go back to using drugs
  • Learn to avoid places, people, and situations where you might be tempted to use drugs

Medicines can help with the symptoms of withdrawal. For addiction to certain drugs, there are also medicines that can help you re-establish normal brain function and decrease your cravings.

If you have a mental disorder along with an addiction, it is known as a dual diagnosis. It is important to treat both problems. This will increase your chance of success.

If you have a severe addiction, you may need hospital-based or residential treatment. Residential treatment programs combine housing and treatment services.

Can drug use and addiction be prevented?

Drug use and addiction are preventable. Prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media may prevent or reduce drug use and addiction. These programs include education and outreach to help people understand the risks of drug use.

NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse

  • Substance Abuse Screening (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Drug Use and Effects (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • NIDA Notes (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • Drug and Substance Abuse (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.


Can You Get Contact High From Meth?

The Contact High of Drug Users
Chris Elkins, MA |Last Updated: 2/27/20|5 sources

A significant number of studies have investigated the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and secondhand marijuana smoke. But the effects of secondhand methamphetamine smoke haven’t been thoroughly researched.

Most of what we know about passive exposure to meth comes from research on meth labs. We know meth production spreads toxins. Chemical residue remains in homes used as meth labs for years.

Children who live in meth labs consistently test positive for the drug, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Forensic Science International.

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Asthma
  • Lung disease

Law enforcement officers have reported cases of children testing positive for meth in urine tests after their parents smoked the drug near them. These parents claimed to have never manufactured the drug. But the cases weren’t thoroughly analyzed.

Meth has been detected in areas where the drug was smoked but not manufactured. This indicates that toxins enter the environment when a person smokes meth. The toxins may be present even if you can’t see or smell the meth.

It’s unly someone sitting in the same room as someone smoking the drug would inhale enough contaminants to feel high or get addicted to meth. But they may experience other health effects.

How Much Secondhand Meth Smoke Enters the Environment?

In a 2008 experiment, researchers evaluated the amount of secondhand meth smoke that entered the air and landed on surfaces. They simulated smoking meth four times in an average-sized hotel room in Thornton, Colorado.

During the first two simulations, researchers mimicked the amount of smoke that would be released from one smoke, or one hit, of a meth pipe.

After accounting for the amount of smoke that would’ve been inhaled in the body, they determined one smoke released a significant amount of meth into the air. The drug was also detected on walls and other surfaces.

The third and fourth simulations were designed to mimic the amount of smoke released by a long smoking session or multiple smoking sessions. As expected, the amount of meth in the air and the amount of residue on surfaces increased significantly.

However, the amount of meth contamination measured was significantly lower than the amount detected in meth labs.

The authors concluded that children in a room where someone had smoked meth would ly be exposed to meth in the air and on surfaces even after the smoking session concluded. The study was published in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety.

Risks of Meth Exposure at Home

In another study, a family of five lived in a home for seven months before they were told the house was a former meth lab. Scientists tested the home and found dangerous levels of meth on several surfaces. The lab had been busted a year earlier, according to a case report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These labs often leave toxic residue from meth ingredients in addition to traces of meth.

Each family member, including three children between the ages of 7 and 11, tested positive for methamphetamine. Two children tested positive for amphetamine. None of the family members had a history of drug use or took prescription drugs containing amphetamines.

  • Asthma- symptoms
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Behavioral changes
  • Anxiety
  • Attention problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Sore and watery eyes
  • Persistent cough

The family was drug tested three months after moving out. Meth can be detected in the urine or blood for several days after last use, but hair tests can detect the drug for up to 90 days. Only one of the family members tested positive for meth, but the levels of meth in his hair had declined significantly from the time of the first test.

The health problems went away within 12 months of moving the home.

Overall, being in a room where someone is smoking meth is safer than being in a meth lab. You probably won’t feel a contact high. You may exhibit some signs of meth use, such as increased heart rate or body temperature, and you’d ly fail a drug test.

But you probably won’t feel major side effects unless you’re around meth often. Living in a house where someone regularly smokes meth may cause long-term health problems.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

  • Castaneto, M.S. et al. (2014, December 1). Identifying methamphetamine exposure in children. Retrieved from
  • Martyny, J.W. et al. (2008, September). Methamphetamine Contamination on Environmental Surfaces Caused by Simulated Smoking of Methamphetamine. Retrieved from
  • Thrasher, D.L., Von Derau, K. & Burgess, J. (2009, December). Health effects from reported exposure to methamphetamine labs: a poison center-based study. Retrieved from
  • Wang, X. & Drummer, O.H. (2015, November 10). Review: Interpretation of drug presence in the hair of children. Retrieved from
  • Wright, J. et al. (2017, January 6). Adverse Health Effects Associated with Living in a Former Methamphetamine Drug Laboratory — Victoria, Australia, 2015. Retrieved from


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