The Long-Term, Dangerous Effects of Meth on the Brain

impacts-of-meth

Written By: Molly Groo

Molly is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Case Manager and Vocational Services. She has a Bachelor’s in International Relations, is a Certified Addiction Counselor, and it’s currently working towards her Master’s in Social Work. Molly’s experience allows her to provide expert knowledge about solution-based methods to help people in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.

Published on Feb 28, 2020 | Types of Drug Addictions

Meth Use in the United States

effects of meth

Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs one can use. In the short-term, the effects of meth on the brain can be severe and even deadly. But for long-term users, invisible damage is done to the brain every day. The damage is even more concerning when considering the rate of meth use in the United States. According to the CDC, millions of Americans use meth each year, and some become addicted. Meth use increased significantly last year. Data shows that meth is partially responsible for the increased rate of drug overdoses over the last several years. The meth crisis correlates to rising amounts of methamphetamines seized at the border each year. Additionally, many users turn to meth because it’s relatively cheap and intense. While the problem is worse in some states, the drug is everywhere.

Health Impacts of Meth Use

Meth use, abuse, and addiction are hazardous. The impacts of meth can range from agitation to psychosis, and even short-term use can be fatal. The short-term effects of meth include:

  • Delusions, hallucinations, and also psychosis
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Loss of inhibition and high-risk behaviors, like IV use or unprotected sex
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures and fatal overdose

The longer someone uses, the worse the effect. Over time, (sometimes as short as months), the effects of meth use include:

  • Organ damage
  • Blood vessel, heart, and brain damage resulting in an increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Malnutrition
  • “Meth mouth”- severe tooth decay and loss
  • Psychosis, depression, and also anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Damage to tissues and veins from injection
  • Rhabdomyolysis: potentially fatal breakdown of muscles and kidney failure

One of the most severe impacts of meth is the damage it does to the brain. For long-term users, this can mean conditions similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Meth and the Brain

Meth can cause psychosis, depression, addiction, agitation, anxiety, and also severe cravings. But even more alarming is the long-term damage it can do. Because meth effects the neurotransmitters, it changes the chemical signals the brain sends to produce feelings, thoughts, and responses. As a result, long-term meth use damages the parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, motor skills, and learning.

Generally, this results in symptoms similar to those seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease and also leads to brain damage. These symptoms may also include problems with coordination and speech, impaired memory, and tremors. Some studies show that meth users have higher rates of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Ultimately, meth damages the brain. Whether someone who uses meth develops symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or not, they may suffer symptoms of psychosis, depression, anxiety, or poor cognition long after they stop. For some users, these effects can last over a year.

Addressing the Effects of Meth Use

In methamphetamine addiction treatment, the physical and mental impacts of meth use become part of the treatment plan. The individualized treatment of meth use often includes medical care, dental work, therapy, medication, and also psychiatric care. However, treating the symptoms of meth use doesn’t address the underlying problem: abuse and addiction.

Before someone can begin repairing the damage caused by meth, they need access to comprehensive addiction treatment. For meth users, this is especially important because it harms the brain and the way the user experiences emotions, perception, and thinking. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer dual diagnosis care that addresses addiction as well as mental health. As a result, our Florida Drug Rehab Center includes life skills development, psychiatric care, medication management, and intensive therapy to target and address the needs of patients struggling with meth (and many other) addictions. If you are looking for help, give us a call today.

Written By: Molly Groo

Molly is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Case Manager and Vocational Services. She has a Bachelor’s in International Relations, is a Certified Addiction Counselor, and it’s currently working towards her Master’s in Social Work. Molly’s experience allows her to provide expert knowledge about solution-based methods to help people in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.
Cite This Article
Molly Groo. "The Long-Term, Dangerous Effects of Meth on the Brain." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Published on Feb 28, 2020, https://lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com/effects-of-meth-on-the-brain/.

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