How Does Meth Affect The Brain


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What Does Meth Do To Your Brain

Methamphetamine (meth) Drug Facts, Animation

Methamphetamine is an amphetamine-class drug similar to Adderall and other prescription medications. Its also illegal, mostly because its stronger and has more side-effects than those drugs. Most Americans recognize that meth is dangerous yet 0.4% of the U.S. population uses or is addicted to it. That means 4 out of every 1000 Americans uses methamphetamine.

Its true that amphetamines are regularly used in controlled situations to help people with ADHD. But, in large doses and over time, amphetamines can drastically impact the brain.

In fact, studies show that long-term methamphetamine abuse can alter the size and activity of areas in the brain, changing your personality, ability to think, and even physical capabilities.

While these physical changes to the brain are unlikely over the short-term, short-term users also see changes. Thats normally through shifts in dopamine and GABA production impacting the reward system and the emotions. These impacts can be considerable, as nearly anyone whos used meth or been around someone who has can tell you. Understanding the short and long-term risks of using meth is important if you want to navigate this drug safely or help your loved one to do so.

Methamphetamine Brain Damage And Neurological Problems

Methamphetamine may cause brain damage that resembles certain dementias, such as Alzheimers disease. Research has also found that people who used methamphetamine had higher rates of Parkinsons disease.

Abusing methamphetamine may also cause structural changes in the brain that could affect a persons emotional and cognitive functioning. Meth use may also harm structures in the brain that are responsible for decision making.

Long-term meth use could damage the brains nerve terminals. Though rare, crystal meth may also cause changes in the brains white matter.

Mechanisms Of Bbb Damage

The BBB can be disrupted by similar mechanisms that are responsible for Meth-induced monoaminergic damage and parallel those that are known to cause BBB disruption in a variety of other neurological diseases.

Extreme changes in body temperature are associated with increased BBB permeability. Kiyatkin and Sharma reported that both hyperthermia and hypothermia alter BBB function. Brains of rats, warmed to reach temperatures of 38.5â42°C, showed increases in albumin, GFAP-positive cells, water content and sodium, potassium and chloride concentrations, suggestive of brain edema. Moreover, the extent of BBB disruption was correlated with body temperature. Microwave-induced brain hyperthermia also results in horseradish peroxidase extravasation into the brain when brain temperatures were heated and maintained at 44.3°C for 30 min and 42.5°C for 60 min . Similarly, brain temperatures measured at hypothermic temperatures of 32â33°C also produced BBB leakage but to a lesser extent than hyperthermia and did not result in increases in brain water or ion content. These data suggest that alterations in brain temperatures alone can increase permeability of the BBB.

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Meths Effect On Your Immune System

Research shows chronic methamphetamine abuse can significantly affect your immune system. Meth can alter your immune cells and disrupt their signaling pathways. It may suppress white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses. This can lead to poorer immune system functioning and increased risk of infections.

Meth abuse can cause mouth abrasions and mucous membranes to dry out, decreasing natural barriers against infection. People who abuse meth are at greater risk for diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV. If you inject meth and share needles, it increases your susceptibility to these illnesses. Meth also greatly clouds your judgement and makes you less inhibited, which can lead to risky behaviors like unprotected sex. During the COVID-19 pandemic, studies found that meth users were at higher risk of infection and death from the disease due to their compromised immune system.

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How Can A Methamphetamine Overdose Be Treated

Because methamphetamine overdose often leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the intent of:

  • restoring blood flow to the affected part of the brain
  • restoring blood flow to the heart
  • treating the organ problems

Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • intense drug cravings

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.

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The Effects Of Meth On The Brain And Body

Meth or methamphetamine, also known as blue, crystal, ice, meth, and speed, is a highly addictive stimulant. Often in the form of blue or clear tinted crystals, meth is commonly smoked, snorted, or injected. It is similar to, but much stronger, than amphetamine a prescription drug used to treat ADHD or narcolepsy.

Meth is made or cooked in an illegal lab typically just in a basement or room in a house. This can make the drug more dangerous because it can be easy to contaminate or mess up the final product.

Meth causes a very intense, but somewhat short high. It starts with the initial rush. This is a very intense period where the effects of the drug rush in with strong feelings of euphoria. This typically only lasts for up to thirty minutes. Next comes the high, which is slightly less intense than the rush. This stage can last four to sixteen hours.

Often, the person using meth will binge, or use meth uncontrollably for a period of time from three to fifteen days. They will often go without sleep or food during that period. The highs from each dose will get progressively shorter and less intense until no high is felt at all.

What Are The Effects Of Meth On The Body

Why meth is so dangerous

Meth is a popular drug made from household products like drain cleaner, lye, and acetone. This caustic batch of chemicals provides a high users find to be enjoyable, but isnt safe to use in any capacity.

Meth functions as a synthetic form of amphetamines, providing energy and alertness. Unlike other drugs, like marijuana, that yield a calming effect, meth wires its users for action. Meth users regular forego sleep and may stay up for days on end while chasing a high. Meanwhile, the high provided by meth can be comparatively short, resulting in an ongoing need for additional doses.

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Is It Possible To Recover From Meth Addiction

Addiction is a disease, but that doesnt mean its a death sentence. Its absolutely possible to walk away from methamphetamine addiction and live a life without the devastating effects of drug abuse. However, this doesnt necessarily mean its possible to restore the body to its previous form. Long-term damage may be too severe to treat after cessation of use quitting meth can alleviate some symptoms but may not result in a significant improvement overall.

This can be particularly true for those who have experienced meth-related brain damage. Some forms of brain damage can be reversed, in full or in part, over time. The changes to dopamine receptors can be restored to near-normal functioning with a year or more of sobriety. However, there are no guarantees, and long-term use may change the brains structures to the point that a complete return of normal functioning isnt possible. For example, the risk of developing Parkinsons Disease does not appear to decline, regardless of a cessation of use.

Its important to note that stopping ones use of meth is always recommended regardless of the damage already done. While going back in time to right past wrongs isnt an option, ceasing use, even after years of chronic use, is the best opportunity available to prevent future complications. Any problems in cognitive function related to meth use may not fully resolve, but at least they wont continue to worsen.

Damage To The Brains Circulatory System

Meth use also affects the veins, arteries, and capillaries in the CNS. Problems associated with increased blood pressure and weakening of veins and arteries can leave them susceptible to blood clots and scarring. This further results in an increased likelihood of having a stroke both ischemic and hemorrhagic types.

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How Meth Impacts Brain Chemistry

Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin that primarily effects dopamine pathways in the brain. Meth mimics dopamine which is called the pleasure neurotransmitter in the brain. When something pleasurable happens, certain axons in the brain release dopamine which attach to receptors on dendrites of neighboring axons passing along the pleasure message in the brain. The process is stopped when dopamine is released from the receptors and pumped back into the neuron that released it where it is stored for later use.

Usually neurons recycle dopamine, but methamphetamine is able to fool neurons into taking it up just like it would dopamine. Once inside the neuron, methamphetamine causes that neuron to release lots of dopamine. This causes the person to feel intense pleasure that can last all day. Eventually these pleasurable sensations stop, causing unpleasant feelings called a crash that leads a person to crave more of the drug. Over time the person has a difficult time feeling any pleasure.

Methamphetamine can also change other neurotransimitter pathways in the brain including serotonin and epinephrine which affect mood, energy, and self-regulatory mechanisms of heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.

Susie Adams, PhD, PMHNP Director, VUSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

Mechanisms Of Monoamine Damage

Structural Abnormalities in the Brains of Human Subjects Who Use ...

Many studies have investigated the mechanisms responsible for monoamine neurotransmitter damage caused by Meth. Those mechanisms include hyperthermia, neurotransmitter release, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation.

Hyperthermia is an acute effect of Meth and appears necessary but is not sufficient to cause monoaminergic damage . This is evidenced by the fact that Meth-induced monoaminergic terminal damage is not observed in rodents that are placed in a setting with low ambient temperature and do not experience Meth-induced hyperthermia . Furthermore, pharmacological interventions that attenuate hyperthermia also attenuate Meth-induced monoaminergic damage. For example, antagonism of NMDA receptors using MK-801 or D1 or D2 dopaminergic receptors using SCH23390 and haloperidol, respectively, prevents Meth-induced hyperthermia and toxicity . In contrast, several studies suggest that hyperthermia is not the sole mechanism since pharmacological interventions that do not alter hyperthermia will attenuate Meth toxicity .

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Rewiring The Brain’s Reward System

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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Types Of Brain Damage

Heavy or long-term methamphetamine use damages the brain both functionally and structurally.A person’s brain becomes accustomed to the drug during the course of addiction.

Altered biochemical activity may take time to normalize once the drug is stopped. In most cases, it will some dysfunction in the brain’s neurons can eventually right itself.

Reversal of changes to brain structure is not always possible. Ultimately, meth causes damage to brain cells. The ability to reverse the damage largely depends on where the injury occurred.

If damage occurs in an area where other brain cells can compensate, improvement in a person’s symptoms is likely. If damage occurs where cells are more specialized and have fewer redundancies, the repair can be difficultif not impossible.

There are three ways that long-term meth use can damage the brain:

  • Causing acute neurotransmitter changes
  • Rewiring the brain’s reward system

Can You Become Addicted To Methamphetamine

How do drugs affect the brain? – Sara Garofalo

Yes, you can. Methamphetamine is very addictive. Over time, methamphetamine can change the way your brain works. If you stop using methamphetamine, you can start to feel really sick. This makes it hard to stop. This is called addiction.

Anyone can become addicted to methamphetamine. There is no way to predict who is likely to become addicted. The right treatment can help someone who is addicted feel better and stop using methamphetamine, but treatment is hard work and it can take many years to recover from addiction. The best approach is to never start using the drug in the first place.

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What Are The Long

The long-term effects of methamphetamines include:

  • Aggressive or violent behavior due to stimulation
  • Mood disturbances, like mood swings
  • Memory loss you may not remember what happened when you were taking the drug
  • Severe dental problems from smoking or chewing meth crystals
  • Changes in the structure and function of the brain
  • Psychosis, which is recognized by the presence of hallucinations and paranoia
  • Delusions, like the feeling that there are insects in your skin or crawling on you

Instant Effects Of Meth

Crystal meth is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can lead to addiction. It reaches the brain and signals it to produce large amounts of dopamine, the happy chemical. This produces a rush or a feeling of high that methamphetamine users crave.

Recreational use of methamphetamine is considered abuse and can be legally prosecuted.

The Short-Term Effects Of Meth Are:

  • Euphoria or feelings of intense pleasure
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased risk of Parkinsons disease

Some psychological, emotional, and behavioral effects of meth abuse hinder the users ability to function effectively as a responsible member of society, form and sustain healthy relationships, perform at the workplace, and hold on to jobs. Shabu, the variation of the drug in the Philippines, has shown even more serious side effects.

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Methamphetamine Heart Damage And Cardiovascular Problems

As a stimulant, meth use places great strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. In the least, this could cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure , however, more serious cardiac dangers of meth exist.

People who use meth can have a higher risk of stroke. Even more, the heart damage from meth use can be deadly.

Additional cardiac dangers from meth include heart failure and an infection of the heart called endocarditis. Endocarditis occurs when bacteria enter a persons bloodstream after meth is injected.

Crystal Meth Effects On The Body


Methamphetamine damages most other body organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Some meth-induced changes are irreversible and can trigger life-threatening complications.

Meth Side Effects On the Body Include:

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Inability to experience pleasure that may trigger suicidal thoughts
  • The addictive disorder that manifests as compulsive drug-seeking behavior
  • Structural and functional changes in the brain

Abstinence can improve motor and verbal learning abilities in most users. But sometimes, the psychotic effects of meth abuse tend to persist for months after quitting the drug.

Methamphetamine users who inject the drug are at a higher risk of contracting certain other diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, AIDS, bacterial infections, inflammation at the site of injection.

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A Reduction In Dopamine And Serotonin Transporters

Dopamine and serotonin transporters are specific cells in the CNS that reuptake dopamine and serotonin released from the neurons so these neurotransmitters can be repackaged for reuse. This action contributes to the psychoactive effects of meth, and also leads to dopamine and serotonin depletion because the neurons have less dopamine to reuse later. This can lead to extreme mood effects, such as extreme euphoria followed by periods of depression, apathy, and hopelessness.

Can A Person Recover From Meth Addiction

Meth addiction can be recovered from. It all starts with detox. In fact, in as little as a month, you can begin to see changes in your body and the way your brain begins to function normally again. If a person has struggled with dental problems from the drug, this may need to be treated during recovery to help avoid pain and gun or tooth loss.

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How Meth Use Affects The Body

About a million people ages 12 or older in the U.S. could be living with methamphetamine use disorder, or meth addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And about 1.9 million people might have used meth – also known as crystal, speed, or ice – in the past year.

Ongoing meth use can damage your body and mind in several ways. Halifax-based physician Naveen Gupta, MBBS, BSc, tells WebMD Connect to Care that itâs like âa ticking time bomb that can go unnoticed from both the abuser and the health care professionals.â

Here are some of the ways meth use can cause long-term damage.

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