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Methamphetamines and The Brain


Methamphetamine is an incredibly strong, stimulant drug.

The propensity to trigger addiction is heightened in an individual who abuses methamphetamines due to its highly addictive qualities. It goes by several names, some of which include: crystal, ice, chalk, crank, meth, and speed. Methamphetamines can be taken in a number of ways (injecting, swallowing, snorting, smoking…etc.). Addiction, in general, is known to be a disease of the brain. This is due to the fact that continuous abuse of a substance actually has the susceptibility to alter one’s brain function. The additional chemical or chemicals that present themselves (depending on the type of abused substance) in one’s brain can create miscommunication between one’s synaptic connects and can reroute a person’s synaptic pathways.


Methamphetamines undoubtedly affect the brain in a very specific way. The way it works is that it tricks one’s brain into creating an excess of the dopamine chemical, therefore increasing one’s amount of dopamine. This chemical imbalance can have great effects on an individual. Dopamine is the chemical that is most closely involved with one’s reward center in one’s brain. Additionally, dopamine is involved in one’s body movement, one’s motivation, and one’s ability to experience pleasure. The presence of methamphetamines creates a surge of dopamine in one’s brain which produces a feeling of excess pleasure, this is described as the rush of euphoria that is experienced by methamphetamine users.

Short Term Effects

There are many short term effects that a person may experience if he or she suffers from methamphetamine abuse. An individual abusing methamphetamines may experience a decrease in his or her appetite, possibly resulting in weight loss.  Extended periods of wakefulness and increased physical activity have been noted as other possible short term effects of methamphetamine abuse. Furthermore, some people have experienced irregular heartbeat, faster breathing, rise in one’s blood pressure and heightened body temperatures. An individual may experience any combination of the above short term effects of methamphetamine abuse.

Long Term Effects

The long term effects of methamphetamine abuse can be quite severe.

First and foremost, individuals who abuse methamphetamines place themselves at a much higher risk when it comes to contracting various Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). These can include (but are not limited to), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)…etc. The reason being, that one of the common ways of using the methamphetamine drug is intravenously. Intravenous drug use and abuse innately carries with it a higher risk of STDs due to the method of delivery, as STDs are passed through bodily fluids and blood. Additionally, methamphetamine abuse can cause impaired judgement and a lack of inhabitations, which can lead to promiscuity and risky behaviors (also raising one’s probability for contracting an STD).

Certain cognitive impairments can be caused by methamphetamine abuse (directly affecting one’s abilities in relation to thinking, understanding, remembering, learning…etc.). Severe dental problems can occur in individuals who struggle with methamphetamine addiction. Various emotional disorders can manifest in people who are addicted to methamphetamine, such as anxiety, depression, weight disorders, and insomnia. Paranoia and hallucinations have also been identified as possible long term side effects from abusing methamphetamines. There has been no defined timeframe in which these long term side effects can plague a person recovering from methamphetamine addiction. Some individuals will, unfortunately, have to deal with any combination of the above side effects for the duration of his or her life. For others, the side effects may subside at some point in his or her future. Every person is different and may experience a different combination of short and long term side effects, each lasting time periods that are unique to each individual.

Further Information

Substance abuse and addiction should not be handled flippantly. If a person struggles with substance abuse or addiction it is imperative to seek help immediately. Methamphetamine addiction, if left untreated, can be deadly. Every single time an individual abuses methamphetamines, he or she is putting him or herself at extreme risk of overdose. Overdose occurs when a person ingests too much methamphetamine at one time, or his or her body experiences a toxic reaction to methamphetamine. Methamphetamine overdose can lead to kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke, all of which can lead to death. There are a number of locations an individual can get help.

A person should reach out to any addiction clinic or facility, or even simply reach out to one’s hospital for more information on methamphetamine abuse or any type of substance abuse or addiction.

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