How Meth Impacts Your Brain
Other than a few controversial Breaking Bad seasons, what do we know about the neurological impact of meth abuse? In short, how does meth impact someone’s brain? Many of us have personal experience with meth users. Whether it be a family member actively battling addiction or a neighbor on your street, or maybe you are fighting this addiction yourself and looking to understand what it is doing to you. Information is robust, and meth has a range of short and long-term impacts on the individuals who use it. By taking these effects into account, you can extend compassion to those suffering from this disease and find the right resources. If you need help quitting meth, we are here for you. Give us a call today at 614-502-6247, and we can help you start your road to recovery.
The Basics: Methamphetamine
The first step to helping a loved one who may be dealing with a meth dependency is to understand what it is and how it works in the first place. Meth is short for methamphetamine, which is a stimulant that provides the user with increased energy. This boost in life can be intoxicating, especially if the person has a history of mental health issues like depression.
Meth is also very versatile in its appearance. The substance can range from an exact crystalline shape or as a white powder. Hence, it’s other nicknames like “crystal,” “ice,” or “speed”. Meth is made in a variety of ways, depending on the resources available. Meth is produced in large laboratories, but many have figured out how to create it at home, as pop culture portrays. Unfortunately, on top of making the harmful, the labs themselves can be dangerous. Regardless of where it is “cooked,” there is the potential to release toxic fumes and even explosions.
People consume meth through a variety of methods. For example, a few of the ways people consume meth include:
- Smoking, which is inhaling the crystal form of meth through the use of a glass pipe
- Snorting the powder
- Injection through the use of a needle
No matter the method, the high achieved from meth wears off fairly quickly. Unfortunately, this brief high leads some to consume the drug repeatedly over and over again. This phenomenon is a “binge.” This behavior can quickly lead the way into addiction if left untreated.
The Impacts of Meth Abuse
Dopamine refers to the “feel-good” hormone, and it is one of the primary chemicals that meth interacts. Dopamine is involved with different facets of behavior within the brain, including reinforcement of positive behaviors, movement, and motivation. Meth works by creating more dopamine than what is in the body. Dopamine increases in many natural ways, but the drastic amounts produced by meth consumption can have devastating effects on the user. This increase in dopamine, through the consumption of meth, is also what leads to addictive behaviors.
Drug abuse would not be an issue if drugs did not create some euphoric feeling. People ended up chasing this feeling and forgot about the consequences it has in reality. Drug abuse can lead to broken homes, loss of employment, and even crime. Say a user’s real-life is now tarnished, which gives them even more of a need for the euphoric feeling produced by meth. This feeling is part of the reason intervention requires the help of a trained professional.
So, who exactly becomes addicted in the first place? The answer is that anyone can become prone to meth abuse. Too often, our ideas of addicts what they look like and where they come from are shrouded in stereotypes. But, there is ultimately no telling who will become addicted, and helping those already suffering should be the primary topic of conversation. A part of creating a culture of recovery is moving away from shameful nicknames and inaccurate information about meth abuse. Beat the stereotype, and call us today. We can help you get the help that you need.
Lasting Impacts of Meth Abuse
Now that we understand what meth is and how it works let’s take a look at the everyday impacts of meth abuse on the body and brain. The consumption of methamphetamine can cause significant changes to the user’s behavior and body. These changes can either be immediate or they may happen over a long period of time. For instance, The National Insititute on Drug Abuse includes a brief list breaking down some of these effects:
Short Term Effects of Meth
- An increase in energy
- Higher than normal body temperature
- An increased heart rate
- Quicker breathing
- Loss of appetite
Long Term Effects of Meth
- Confusion or anxiety
- Skin problems, particularly itchiness
- Inordinate weight loss
- Tooth decay, hence the common term “meth mouth”
Are you concerned about a loved one possibly using meth? Because these effects also serve as a useful warning sign. If you start to notice rapid physical changes or altered behavior do not be afraid to ask questions. Going into these conversations with a deep understanding of meth and its effects can also help relieve any anxiety you may have about broaching the subject. The sooner treatment is sought ought, then the better the chance of preventing long term neurological damage. Are you suffering from the effects of meth abuse? Then call us today and our team of experts will get you the help that you need. Turn your life around today.
Math Impacts the Brain
What does meth do to the brain? Not only does meth abuse have physical impacts it also causes inordinate changes to the brain, like meth psychosis and meth head syndrome. If you or a loved one suffers from meth abuse a lot of the fight may be invisible. These changes, similar to the behavioral changes, can take place over both a short and long period of time. The Meth Project is a great resource for understanding the impacts of meth abuse on the brain. For example, below is their list of ways meth usage impacts the brain:
Methamphetamine can cause long-lasting cognitive impairment. Compromising the individual’s ability to learn and perform basic verbal tasks, as well as impacting basic motor skills.
The brain swiftly builds up a tolerance to methamphetamine, setting up the cycle of dependence where users need the drug to feel pleasure, or simply to overcome the “crash”. Over time, meth causes anhedonia, the inability to experience a pleasure.
Meth floods the brain with dopamine, the neurotransmitter that produces pleasure. It first overstimulates the brain to create an intense rush, then causes an extreme, rebound low. Meth also initiates changes to the brain that severely impacts the user’s ability to experience a pleasure.
Users often suffer from paranoia, a delusional disorder in which the person is irrational, hyper-alert, and has an overarching feeling of being in constant danger. Paranoia can set in within the first few months of use.
Meth impairs the frontal lobe, which governs judgment, impulse control, and the ability to determine consequences. Unable to think rationally, meth users do things that they would never have thought possible before.
Meth damages short and long-term memory by changing the structure of the brain itself. Users mention not being able to recall long periods and often struggle to remember day to day events.
Methamphetamine use overstimulates the amygdala – the emotional control center of the brain – and compromises brain circuits necessary for the control of impulsive behaviors. This inability to control behavior and an amped-up state filled with anxiety and paranoia can make users prone to aggression and violence.
Meth hooks people faster than almost any other illicit drug. Using meth trains the brain to view meth as the only way to feel good, no matter what problems it may cause.
Meth usage can cause involuntary facial and body movements – such as twitching, and repetitive ticks; writhing, jerk, and failing movements; tremors and convulsions.
Meth users may become obsessed with one thing for hours or repeatedly perform tasks over and over because meth disrupts the brain’s inhibitory control – the brain’s brakes- so users lose the ability to stop.
Delusions & Hallucinations
Meth can cause the user to hear voices, see things that are not there, or even believe they feel things like bugs crawling under their skin. Users also often suffer from persecutory delusions – believing that other people are out to get them or that they may be under surveillance.
Users experience a crippling withdrawal that is marked by anxiety and depression. Methamphetamine damages systems in the brain that regulate emotions and the ability to experience a pleasure. Their bodies and minds are suffering from exhaustion. Confusion, cognitive impairment, and suicidal thoughts are also common.
Do you want or need more information about the neurological impacts that are associated with meth abuse? We have professionals standing by that will be able to provide you with more information. Call and talk to our specialists today. And we can get started on your road to recovery as soon as possible.
How You Can Help or Find Help
Meth can have crippling physical, emotional, and neurological effects. The best method to avoid becoming addicted is to never pick up the drug in the first place. Fortunately, by understanding the effects you can speak up and have important conversations. However, these conversations create empathy and awareness and can be expressed in a variety of creative ways like writing, art, or other media.
If you do plan on confronting a loved one about suspected meth abuse make sure to properly prepare and are aware of the effects of crystal meth on the brain. You will want to make sure the conversation takes place in a safe environment. You also want to make sure you are actively listening in case you learn something that could be pivotal to their recovery process. Always remember that your loved one may not be prepared to have the conversation when you first bring it up. It is perfectly fine to come back to it later just make sure to keep trying and show support.
Another important way to help an individual suffering from meth abuse is to take advantage of the resources available to you. There is a plethora of local resources as well as nations that have become readily available thanks to modern technology. For instance, here is a great list of national resources to get you your loved one started on the path to recovery:
- National Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
- National Mental Health Services Locator
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
Call Us Today
To summarize, addiction is a difficult thing to navigate but by staying informed you can arm yourself with the tools necessary to remain compassionate and find resources. Also, meth causes major impacts on an addict’s brain. You can start small by sharing stories or volunteer at local centers. If you are someone struggling with a meth addiction, do not be afraid to ask for help. Nobody asks to become addicted and meth does not pick favorites. Remember to stay compassionate towards yourself or your loved ones and take advantage of your local resources. Change is always possible and our addiction team is here to help. Call today. We will help you beat the impacts that meth can be doing to your body.