Methamphetamine is one of the most dangerous and addictive substances on the illegal drug market, and it is essential to have adequate information on how might affect your body and brain. Meth usage has also been sharply on the rise over the past few years, with the National Survey of Drug Use and Health reporting that 1.2 million people have admitted to using some form of methamphetamine in the past twelve months. With more and more people consuming, it is now more critical than ever to know the horrific and often permanent effects of meth.
Initial Short-Term Effects on the Body
The initial rush and euphoria that is felt when the methamphetamine is first ingested, whether by needle or if smoked, is caused by stimulation of the central nervous system and primarily by the dopamine reward system. The reward system is flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine, is prompting the user to have a nirvana-like feeling of bliss. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most commonly associated with motivation and pleasure and is a very important aspect of neurological health and behavior. The most prevalent and obvious symptoms are radical behavioral changes, such as heightened aggression, confidence or withdrawal into oneself, all caused by the alteration of the dopamine reward system.
After the initial high, a person often enters the “tweaking” stage, where they have heightened paranoia and often exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia due to the radial alterations of their neurochemistry. A tweaker also may exhibit symptoms of psychosis or a withdrawal from reality that is often accompanied by hallucinations and nightmares.
Furthermore, an addiction to meth is formed at an incredibly rapid pace, with the dopamine reward system craving the initial high while simultaneously being unable to reach it due to blockages formed within certain parts of the brain’s reward system that allows less and less dopamine to get through as more meth is consumed. This can eventually lead to a loss of all emotions or motivations in life, leading to severe depression and eventually suicide.
Long-Term Effects of Meth Usage
The long-term effects of methamphetamine are even more horrific than the short-term side effects and are often permanent and irreversible. Everything from severe physiological damage and body-wide organ failure to intense neurological damage is common among long-term meth users. Other side effects can include
- multi-faceted organ failure, ranging from kidney failure to congestive heart failure
- Increased heart rate and other factors can lead to blood vessel decay and even lead to strokes and seizures
- permanent psychosis and/or schizophrenia and withdrawal from reality
- rapid onset of tooth decay
- brain decay, leading to loss of motor skills or uncontrollable emotional urges (or lack thereof)
- depression or complete loss of motivation due to a defunct dopamine reward system
- depending on the method of ingestion, permanent lung damage can be the result of smoking or highly infectious diseases such as STD’s are common among those who elect to inject meth
Overall, methamphetamine is easily one of the most dangerous, harmful and addictive drugs in the world today. It immediately has severe physiological ramifications on the body that only compound over time. Moreover, it has an immediate grip on the bodies reward system, causing it to be one of the most addictive drugs.
From increasing risk-taking behaviors, permanent brain damage with severe neurological disorders to the rapid decay of the body’s major organs, meth effects and subsequently destroys the body in almost every conceivable way. With rates of meth uses on the rise, it is important to be as well-informed as possible in order to avoid certain pitfalls of ignorance and avoid taking this terrible drug.
Contact us today if you would like more information about the effects of meth or about treatment options for meth addiction.