Meth is a highly addictive substance which affects the brain and body. Addictive properties make it one of the most targeted drugs on the market in the United States. Learn how meth affects the brain and body and both long and short-term effects it can have on a person who uses or becomes addicted.
How Meth Works
Meth is a stimulant which affects the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system. The way the body processes certain chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters’ is changed when meth is used. Dopamine is released in large quantities and is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, creating a sense of euphoria or a ‘rush’ for users.
Amphetamines can be in the system for varying lengths of time depending on what is taken and in what dose. Meth generally wears off within a day or so. During a meth binge, a post-rush phase known as ‘tweaking’ may occur. When a person tweaks on meth, euphoria is replaced with possible symptoms such as:
As the dopamine supply in the body decreases and is depleted, users of meth can experience depression or a ‘crash’ which also creates intense fatigue.
Meth works quickly when smoked or injected with effects felt almost immediately. Following oral ingestion, meth effects occur more slowly but last for a longer period of time. The effects of meth overall can last between four and eight hours or as long as twelve. Some after effects following a meth binge may last several days which can lead to cravings.
Tolerance builds in the body and brain of a meth user. As meth puts great strain on the heart and circulatory system, mixing meth with other drugs can be dangerous and may lead to an overdose. As with any substance, not all who use meth recreationally become addicted. Meth is highly addictive as a drug and the crash after a binge may cause the user to seek more meth to offset negative effects. As tolerance builds, users take more and in more frequent doses.
Long Term Impact
A person who abuses meth builds tolerance over time which can lead to addiction, which will lead to withdrawal if a person quits using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms from meth can include:
- Intense cravings
Neuroimaging scans detail significant changes in the brain caused by abuse of meth. The dopamine system can be altered resulting in reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning. Chronic meth users also experienced impaired emotion and memory. General long term effects of meth use may include:
- Changes to brain structure and function
- Deficits in thinking, motor skills
- Increased distractibility
- Memory loss
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Mood disturbances
- Several dental issues
- Weight loss
Long term use is also associated with severe health problems and loss of employment, financial stability, relationships and other issues which affect an individual’s quality of life.
Methamphetamine abuse is a dangerous, sometimes lethal addiction. If you or a loved one need help quitting meth, contact the Villa to find out how we can support you with resources, tools and information. It is possible to recover from a meth addiction and find hope for the future.