Methamphetamine directly affects the central nervous system and is highly addictive. This substance has a similar chemical structure to amphetamine, a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. There are many ways to use methamphetamine, including smoking, injecting, or taking it by mouth.
Statistics about Meth Use
Methamphetamine use was reported by 0.9% (or around 2.6 million people) of those 12 and older in 2020.
About 23,837 deaths were reported from a psychostimulant overdose other than cocaine in 2020, primarily methamphetamine.
A methamphetamine use disorder affected around 0.6% (or 1.5 million people) of those aged 12 and older in 2019.
Methamphetamine use was reported by 0.2% of eighth graders in 2021; the same for 10th and 12th graders.
In the US, methamphetamine is third on the list of substances most often connected to joblessness, behind heroin and crack.
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Meth's Effect on the Brain
Brain dopamine levels skyrocket after using meth. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine have a role in various human activities, including movement, motivation, and pleasure. Because the reward system is involved, someone may want to continue participating in pleasurable behaviors like meth usage. This explains why meth is so addicting.
The brain's dopamine system may be affected by long-term meth use, and over time, meth users may have difficulties with concentration, memory, and coordination. Parkinson's disease has been linked to methamphetamine usage in a recent study. As well as tremors and instability, Parkinson's disease is also characterized by a loss of fine motor control.
Some of the effects of meth on the brain may go away after abstaining for a year or more, while other consequences may remain for the rest of your life.
Short-Term and Long-Term Symptoms of Meth Use
Many of the detrimental health effects that stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines have may be attributed to even small dosages of methamphetamine. These effects include:
- Increased level of alertness and regular physical activity
- Irregular heartbeat
- Decreased appetite
- Increased breathing rate
- Blood pressure and body temperature increase
People injecting methamphetamine are more likely to get diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C. Due to methamphetamine usage, risky behaviors such as unprotected intercourse may become more commonplace. Studies on long-term methamphetamine users have shown significant changes in brain areas related to emotion and memory.
Compulsions to seek and use methamphetamines and functional and chemical brain changes are characteristics of methamphetamine addiction. Severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood swings, and violent behavior may show long-term methamphetamine use. Paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions may also be symptoms of psychosis caused by meth. An increase in dopamine binding to striatum-based transporters, critical for memory and movement, occurs when methamphetamine is misused.
Additionally, methamphetamine usage has been shown to harm non-neuronal brain cells known as microglia. Neuroprotective and neurorestorative functions are provided by these cells. However, excessive microglial cell activity may injure healthy neurons. After a year of methamphetamine abstinence, nerve damage and brain viability are no longer present. Methamphetamine usage may also increase the chance of stroke, leading to permanent brain damage. In addition to weight loss, severe dental decay, and tooth loss, long-term users often suffer from skin ulcers.
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Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction
If you continue to use meth, you may have moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms after you stop. Weakened sexual drive and difficulty falling asleep are just a few withdrawal symptoms linked with methamphetamine use. Detoxification (detox) is a technique for safely and quickly quitting meth use. Psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, may also be addressed in rehab following detox.
Contingency management treatments for meth addiction sometimes incorporate incentives to keep the patient abstinent. Providing drug-free urine samples may entitle you to a discount or other reward. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to develop healthy coping skills with a therapist.
Currently, there aren't any medications available to combat the specific effects of methamphetamine or to help people with stimulant-related use disorders maintain sobriety or reduce their intake. Drugs for treating addiction to stimulants like meth are a top priority for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Researchers supported by the agency are working on various pharmacological therapies for methamphetamine use disorder.
As a highly addictive stimulant, methamphetamine is known to change the brain's chemical makeup. A person's appearance, temperament, and conduct may alter dramatically when under the influence of meth or due to withdrawal. A loving and non-judgmental approach is recommended if you are concerned about a loved one's meth use. Getting treatment from a private luxury rehab like Wish Recovery can help meth users with addiction detox safely and recover. Contact us today for more information about our programs.