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How Meth Affects the Brain

Woman rests head in hands and ponders how how meth affects the brain

It’s devastating to watch someone you care about struggle with the disease of addiction. Meth side effects can be complicated to cope with, as they can cause people to exhibit violent and erratic behaviors. To learn more about how meth affects the brain and how our meth rehab in Nebraska can help, call Northpoint Omaha today at 402.685.9404.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug that profoundly affects the central nervous system. This illicit substance comes in several forms. The most prevalent is as a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol.

When consumed, meth can be ingested through various methods, including smoking, swallowing (in pill form), snorting, or injecting the powder that has been previously dissolved in water or alcohol. Upon intake, the drug induces a false sense of happiness and well-being, accompanied by an intense rush of confidence, hyperactiveness, and boundless energy. These drug-induced sensations can persist for a duration of six to 12 hours, leading individuals into a prolonged state of altered consciousness.

It is crucial to be aware of the profound risks associated with methamphetamine abuse, as its addictive nature and detrimental effects on both physical and mental health can lead to severe consequences.

What Is Meth Addiction?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant that can cause immediate feelings of euphoria and a rush of energy. Meth is a derivative of amphetamine but is even more dangerous because the brain and body absorb the stimulants in meth more readily.

Meth addiction is one of the fastest-growing drug epidemics in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), with about 2.6 million people over the age of 12 reporting using meth in the past 12 months.

This substance can be injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally. Some of the meth side effects and warning signs include:

  • Needle marks on the arms, hands, legs, feet, or neck
  • Intense scratching or picking at hair or skin
  • Anger, irritability, violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, paranoia
  • A hoarse cough
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sinus or lung infections
  • States of euphoria followed by depression or fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Jerky, “twitching” movements

Permanent brain damage is one of the most serious meth side effects. If you suspect someone you know is using methamphetamine, intervention could prevent them from experiencing long-lasting cognitive and psychiatric problems.

Effects of Meth on the Brain

Meth triggers the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for producing dopamine, which is a pleasure-inducing chemical. When people use meth, an excess amount of dopamine gets released into the brain, causing a sense of euphoria.

However, continued use can damage the dopamine neurons, causing the person to feel depressed or experience paranoia and hallucinations.

Short-term effects of methamphetamine on the brain include:

  • Increased energy
  • Alertness
  • A sense of euphoria

Extended use may also cause other brain issues, such as:

  • Impaired decision-making
  • Slowed motor skills
  • Personality changes
  • Reduced mental flexibility
  • Structural changes in the brain areas associated with memory and emotion
  • Impaired verbal skills and verbal learning

The effects caused by meth addiction are many. Using meth can also damage cells in the brain called microglia. Microglia are responsible for fighting infection and cleaning up damaged brain cells. When microglia can no longer do their jobs, they can destroy healthy brain cells.

What Is Meth Doing to Your Mental Health?

The long-term effects of meth on mental health are a significant and alarming concern. Many individuals who use methamphetamine often experience periods of depression and anxiety, which can persist not only between doses but even months after withdrawal.

Moreover, the detrimental impact of methamphetamine on neurological function extends beyond mood disorders. It has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, individuals may exhibit repetitive behaviors and experience confusion due to the effects of methamphetamine on the brain.

While there is hope for reversing the effects of methamphetamine through appropriate treatments, it is crucial to recognize that individuals with meth use disorder face an elevated risk of permanent brain damage the longer they continue using the substance. Complicating matters further is the fact that methamphetamine directly affects the memory and decision-making regions of the brain, making it particularly challenging to persuade those struggling with addiction to seek help and support.

Call Northpoint Omaha Today

Finding effective treatment for meth addiction as soon as possible can make all the difference in a person’s recovery. Because methamphetamine is so highly addictive and because it can cause permanent damage to the brain and other systems, delaying treatment can be a fatal mistake.

At Northpoint Omaha, we understand that the decision to seek treatment is a difficult one. Every patient at Northpoint Omaha receives the skilled, compassionate care and support they need to heal from addiction and meet their wellness goals. Call Northpoint Omaha at 402.685.9404 today or complete our online form to learn how meth affects the brain and how our addiction recovery programs can help.