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How Meth Affects The Brain

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What Does Meth Do To Your Brain Learn The Short

How Meth Affects the Brain

The abuse of methamphetamine is becoming more common throughout the United States. But what does meth do to your brain?

Whether its a legal prescription, Desoxyn, or an illegal form, like crystal, all forms of meth are highly addictive and can cause severe health problems that can be permanent and even fatal.

If you or someone you know is suffering from meth addiction, you know how debilitating it can be. But that doesnt mean it cant be overcome.

If youre looking for more information to guide you toward help for you or a loved one, keep reading our page.

Our article is going to focus on:

  • Understanding addiction
  • Short-term effects of meth use
  • Long-term effects of meth use
  • What does meth do to your brain
  • How to find treatment

Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs

Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

Meths Effect On Your Brain

When you abuse meth, the brain produces excessive amounts of dopamine, which is a chemical that creates feelings of euphoria. Taking the drug regularly starts depleting your natural supplies of dopamine. This brain chemical plays an important role in many functions, so when its off balance, your entire system is impacted.

When youre addicted to a substance, your brain begins depending on that drug to function normally. When you try to stop using meth, dopamine levels drop, and your brain sends your body into withdrawal in an effort to restore chemical balance.

Research suggests changes in the brain due to meth affect brain structure and function. The impact on your neurotransmitters can lead to psychotic symptoms or violent behavior. Methamphetamine psychosis can include symptoms like:

  • Hallucinations seeing, hearing, or sensing things that arent there.
  • Ideas of reference a belief that people are talking to you when theyre not.
  • Disorganized speech quickly switching between topics, stringing sentences together that dont make sense, jumbled words, and repeating words.
  • Persecutory delusions believing that a person or group is going to hurt you or out to get you without any proof.

Meth can cause brain damage by decreasing white matter, killing brain cells, and altering neurotransmitters. Users may experience short-term and long-term memory loss, mood disturbances, confusion, and serious mental health issues.

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Can You Recover From The Long Term Effects Of Meth Use

The effects of long-term meth use can be significant and make meth addiction hard to treat. However, the good news is that the impacts on the brain may be reversible. By not using meth, you can reach close to normal brain cell levels. This in turn can help reduce many of the long-term emotional and behavioral effects of meth use.

The key is to seek treatment as soon as possible. Psychotherapy can reduce meth use and the negative consequences of using the drug.

The Effects Of Meth On The Heart

Crystal Meth &  Your Brain: An Infographic
  • Meths stimulant effects can substantially raise users heart rates, and over time, excessive and chronic use of meth can produce heart palpitations. This alarming symptom is typically experienced as a powerful pounding feeling in the chest or neck.
  • Meth use can also lead to the development of an arrhythmia, also known as an irregular heartbeat. These can feel like a skipped heartbeat, and if the arrhythmia becomes severe, it can lead to lightheadedness, collapse, or even cardiac arrest.
  • Overuse of meth can raise blood pressure as well, and over time, chronic high blood pressure can damage arteries, causing them to harden and block blood flow to various organs. The symptoms can be silent as the damage occurs and meth users may not be aware of the harm to their bodies until its too late.

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Increased Bglum After Chronic Ma Treatment

LD MA treatment resulted in increased BGluM in the ventral posteromedial thalamic nucleus, in face somatosensory cortex , in the reticular formation, and in the insular cortex. The ventral posteromedial thalamic nucleus projects to the somatosensory cortex , and in particular to the whisker somatosensory cortex, in which increased BGluM was also observed in LD MA-treated rats. These effects predict changes in face sensory processing after extended MA exposure. Indeed, exposure to MA has been previously shown to induce damage to whisker somatosensory cortical neurons, which was associated with increased stereotypical whisker movements and was prevented by the removal of whiskers .

In addition, increased BGluM was also observed in the insular cortex and reticular formation. The insular cortex receives multi-modal sensory input from thalamic nuclei and forms reciprocal connections with the limbic system . It has been proposed that the insular cortex is involved in a variety of functions, including salience detection . Similarly, the reticular formation is involved in sleep cycles, more specifically in promoting wakefulness and inhibiting REM sleep . Increased BGluM in the insular cortex and reticular formation during LD MA exposure are especially significant in light of past findings where MA has been shown to be effective in treating narcolepsy and inducing increased alertness in humans .

What Does Meth Do To The Brain

Meth increases dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a chemical that plays a role in the reward systems of the brain. It increases feelings of pleasure. As a result, you return to using substances or doing activities that release it.

You probably know of cocaine, which is another type of stimulant. Cocaine is completely processed by your body and quickly removed from it. Half of it is removed from your body in 1 hour. Meth, on the other hand, lasts in the body longer. It takes 12 hours for your body to remove half of it. This means that meth also stays in the brain longer.

As a result, the effects of meth last over a greater period of time compared to that of cocaine. Also, meth generates even more dopamine in the brain than cocaine does, making it highly addictive.

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What Meth Does To Your Brain And Body

Most people understand that there are consequences to the decisions that they made at some point in their life. Some of those consequences can be seen and are immediate, while others can be hidden and far off into the future. There is little doubt that drugs pose a numerous amount of consequences on a users life. One drug in specific, methamphetamine, takes a significantly damaging effect on both the users brain and body. One of the main well-known and dangerous consequences of methamphetamine is addiction. Addiction is often characterized by chronic, relapse prone, compulsive drug seeking and use behavior and is accompanied by molecular, biological and functional changes in the brain and body.

Brain chemistry becomes drastically changed with meth use. The reward circuit of the brain is destroyed and it becomes increasingly impossible to experience any pleasure at all. Not only are the dopamine receptors destroyed and depleted but memory, judgement and motor coordination tissues are permanently destroyed. Meth also causes the brain to release large amounts of adrenaline into the bodys bloodstream, often causing wakefulness, induced anxiety, hyperactivity and with heavy use, psychotic behavior including paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and delusions.

Not only is the brain drastically affected by use but so is the body. Some common physical effects of using meth include:

  • Loss of sex drive
  • Addiction

Do you or a loved one need help?

How Does Drug Rehab Treat Meth Addiction

Meth Inside Out: Brain & Behavior – Triggers

Drug and alcohol rehab centers use a range of therapies to help people overcome the root causes of their addiction along with psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as those caused by meth use. Meth dependence is commonly treated using therapy that teaches patients skills for reducing the risk for relapse. Drug detox and therapy can take place in an inpatient or outpatient rehab environment, though inpatient rehab may be more beneficial for those recovering from severe, long-term meth addiction.

Americas Rehab Campuses use medical detox and behavioral therapy to help people safely and successfully overcome substance use disorders. Contact us today to learn more about our many available addiction treatments that can help you or your loved one experience a safe, fulfilling recovery.

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Neurotoxic Effects That Damage The Dendrites Of The Neurons

A number of these neurotoxic effects lead to significant damage in the dendrites of neurons. The dendrites of neurons are the receiving portions of the neurons that receive the chemical singles from other neurons. This damage prevents the neurons from communicating effectively and can affect a number of cognitive and motor functions.

The Effects Of Meth On The Immune System

  • Meth usage can also affect the functioning of bodily systems in more subtle ways. Using meth has the potential to suppress the immune system and may reduce the bodys ability to resist and fight off disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This can leave meth users chronically vulnerable to various infectious illnesses.
  • Worse still, needle sharing among users who inject meth can also spread HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV degrades the cells of the immune system over time, and this can leave meth users even less protected from contracting any number of diseases.

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The Effects Of Meth On Weight

  • As a powerful stimulant, meth functions as an appetite suppressant, and it has historically been used as a diet pill. However, meth is far from just a harmless diet aid.
  • Meth users experience a severe loss of appetite and often neglect to eat regularly, potentially going days without food. Because meth also speeds up the bodys metabolism, this can lead to rapid weight loss so severe that meth users may take on an emaciated appearance.

Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:

How Meth Affects Your Brain ...and the Rest of Your Body ...
  • MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
  • KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.


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Methamphetamine And Premature Aging

Abusing meth frequently causes people to age beyond their years. A person may look haggard as their skin becomes leathery and takes on a grey cast. As an individuals skin loses its elasticity, they may have more wrinkles than a person typically should at their age.

Meth has also been linked to the development of certain diseases that are associated with aging, including coronary artery atherosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and liver steatosis . Recent research has found that meth can cause cellular aging and inflammation, factors that may contribute to these problems.

How Meth Works In The Brain

The mechanism of action of the drug is similar to other stimulants, in that its consumption results in massive releases of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine that lead to a number of extremely powerful euphoric effects, increases in energy, feelings of invulnerability, and other psychoactive effects. Because the substance is often made with a number of other substances that are potentially toxic, such as antifreeze, battery acid, or drain cleaner, it is both dangerous to use and highly combustible, making it dangerous to manufacture. Research regarding the short-term and long-term effects of methamphetamine use indicates that there are a number of significant potential dangers associated with its use, including significant neurological effects.

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Developing Brains Are More Vulnerable To Meth Related Damage

Teenage brain development is even more significantly impacted by meth abuse. Brain damage from meth use is devastating. The long-term impact of the drug on mental, physical and emotional functioning makes teen meth use a tragic condition. Meths damage to the body can be irreversible. Ceasing use can reduce the impact of some of the side effects, but in many cases, the damage to the mind and body is permanent. Reduced IQ, psychosis and nerve-cell damage are common side effects of meth use.

Suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression are more common for teens in treatment for methamphetamine abuse than for any other drug. The impact of meth on the developing teen brain requires more specific studies to determine how it differs from the effects on adults. Current information shows us that the brains of teenagers addicted to meth release greater amounts of cortisol which can also have negative long-term implications on brain structure and functioning.

The Effects Of Meth On Muscles

Meth on the Brain
  • Chronic meth use can lead to a variety of effects on the musculoskeletal system of the body ranging from relatively benign to quite dangerous.
  • On the mild end of the spectrum, meth use can result in an increase in deep tendon reflexes or hyperreflexive state. More seriously, frequent meth use can elicit generalized, involuntary myoclonus, or muscle twitching/tremors, as well as troublesome repetitive or stereotypic movements.
  • While the precise cause isnt always known , methamphetamine abuse has been linked to a quite serious condition known as rhabdomyolysis.
  • This condition involves the rapid destruction of muscle tissue, with a potential toxic release of the contents of the damaged cells into the bloodstream. Methamphetamine-induced rhabdomyolysis can result in widespread muscle pain, wild fluctuations of serum electrolytes, and if not caught and treated early enough irreversible kidney failure.

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How Do Manufacturers Make Methamphetamine

Currently, most methamphetamine in the United States is produced by transactional criminal organizations in Mexico. This methamphetamine is highly pure, potent, and low in price. The drug can be easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medications. To curb this kind of production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail stores to keep a purchase record of products containing pseudoephedrine, and take steps to limit sales.

Methamphetamine production also involves a number of other very dangerous chemicals. Toxic effects from these chemicals can remain in the environment long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of health problems for people living in the area. These chemicals can also result in deadly lab explosions and house fires.

Treatment Of Methamphetamine Addiction

There are currently no medications approved by Health Canada for the treatment of of methamphetamine addiction . Current treatments to prevent relapse include psychosocial approaches. It is probably not realistic to expect that a single medication will have high efficacy in preventing drug relapse in the majority of methamphetamine users. It can even be expected that in this chronic condition, the memories of addiction might be hard-wired and involve actual structural changes to brain neurons that make the addiction resistant to therapeutic intervention.

Finally, it is important to be aware of medications that might not be effective in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction or that might worsen the condition. Data from a recent clinical trial evaluating efficacy of the antidepressant sertraline in abstinent methamphetamine users suggest that this selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is not effective in reducing methamphetamine relapse and might even decrease the likelihood of maintaining abstinence.

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Hope For Those Struggling With Meth Addiction

  • Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive drug, and the compulsion for continued use can be tough to overcome alone. With each passing day, meth users progressively accumulate far-reaching damage to their health, compromising their bodies, minds and their future.
  • Meth addiction might feel hopeless to those actively struggling with it, but help is available. With the proper professional treatment, a healthy recovery is possible.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with methamphetamine abuse or dependence, and want to hear more about meth detox, rehabilitation, and recovery options, call Who Answers?

    Rewiring The Brain’s Reward System

    Brain Damage: How Meth Affects Your Brain

    Methamphetamine addiction also damages the brain’s so-called pleasure center. These regions of the brain include the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, and frontal lobe. Changes in these brain regions are usually permanent.

    Changes to the brain’s reward center are largely responsible for the drug cravings a person can experience when they quit.

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    What Does Meth Do To Your Body

    Brain: Methamphetamine is a stimulant that rapidly increases dopamine, the brain chemical that stimulates feelings of pleasure and motivation. Dopamine also affects thinking-related skills, like problem solving and memory.

    In the short term, meth causes an intense high. But the crash that follows can leave you feeling irritable and depressed. Over time, meth use can kill your brainâs dopamine cells. You feel unable to find pleasure or have symptoms of psychosis and paranoia.

    A commitment to treatment can help rebuild parts of the brain that take in dopamine. Those who quit meth show signs of impaired thinking-related skills at first. But with at least a year of staying drug-free, some harmful changes to your brain might reverse, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says.

    Heart: Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for meth users.âMeth users are showing evidence of cardiac diseases at a greater intensity and at younger-than-typical ages,â Gupta says.

    Meth can raise your blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, speed up heart rate, and cause your heartâs muscles to collapse, she says. Meth users can also have high cholesterol, which can further increase the likelihood of heart disease.

    Kidneys: Ongoing meth use can also lead to kidney damage. This might be a result of the bodyâs difficulty in breaking down toxins in meth.

    Skin: Meth use can cause extreme itching, which can lead to sores if you pick at your skin.

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