Meth affects the chemical balance in the brain and every major organ in the body. Because of its effects, people who abuse the drug can suffer a lot of mental and physical damage.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. In fact, it’s estimated that about one in eight people who try meth will become addicted.
In fact, meth can hinder people’s ability to live productive lives if they don’t seek meth addiction rehab. However, some people need a more in-depth explanation of meth’s effects on the brain and body to fully understand the danger.
How Meth Affects the Brain
Meth is a neurotoxin, which means that it damages nerve tissues and structures in the brain. Using the drug can damage brain cells, and chronic abuse can cause irreversible damage. Specifically, meth affects nerve terminals, neural pathways, and the cells that protect and preserve the brain.
Meth & the Central Nervous System
Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system, causing jitteriness, bursts of euphoria, delusions, and aggression. Unlike drugs derived from plants or created in professional laboratories, meth is often considered a “do it yourself” drug manufactured at home or in makeshift meth labs. The process of making meth involves hazardous chemicals and equipment.
A recent report published by the CDC reveals that methamphetamine is the number one drug involved in overdose deaths in four out of five regions west of the Mississippi. The same report goes on to reveal that in 2017 alone, more than 9,000 people overdosed on meth. In 2018, approximately 1.9 million people aged 12 and older used meth, with 63% of those using the drug qualifying for a methamphetamine use disorder diagnosis.
How Does Meth Use Affect the Brain?
Severe meth abuse can also cause chemical changes in the brain. It alters the dopamine system, stimulating the brain to produce more of the neurotransmitter. The extra dopamine production makes the brain think that meth is a reward. With long-term use, the brain starts to rely on meth and the high level of dopamine to function properly. Psychological side effects of meth include the following:
- Distorted thinking
Meth use causes behavioral, cognitive, motor, and other mental impairments when used in high doses. Meth effects alter people’s emotions and memory. It can make users self-absorbed, paranoid and can even cause them to hallucinate. People who are usually calm and gentle can become aggressive and violent. They can also lose their ability to pay attention, think clearly, and use good judgment.
In addition, some people experience compulsive, random, and repetitive motor symptoms after long-term use. Scratching and twitching are examples. They may be unable to feel pleasure as well, which could trigger suicidal thoughts.
All of these side effects and symptoms can hinder people’s ability to function in society. They will likely have trouble keeping their jobs and forming and sustaining relationships.
Meth Effects on the Body
In addition to damaging and altering the brain, meth affects every major bodily organ. Some of its effects are irreversible and may trigger fatal complications.
Since meth causes elevated blood pressure and disrupts heart rates, it puts stress on the heart. These effects alone are enough to cause heart attacks. However, meth abuse also causes blood clots and artery malfunctions because it constricts veins and vessels. In turn, blood clots increase the risk of stroke. Smoking meth has a direct impact on the lungs, causing tissue damage. The vapors increase the presence of free radicals, which increases oxidative stress. Since it constricts blood vessels, less blood flow to the lungs can result in fluid buildup in the organs. This effect can cause chest pain, fatigue, breathlessness, and fainting.
On its own, meth can elevate body temperature that leads to dehydration, muscle tissue breakdown, and eventually kidney shutdown. Consistently high blood pressure also damages the kidneys and hinders proper function. In addition, kidney failure can result from urine retention and restricted blood flow.
Meth’s Affect on the Organs and Appearance
The lungs and kidneys also suffer damage from the toxic additives that dealers sometimes lace the drug with. Some examples of these bulking agents include battery acid, drain cleaner, lead, lithium, and paint thinner. After long-term meth use, people can develop hepatitis that progresses to liver failure.
Aside from major organs, other meth effects on the body include aging appearance, dental decay, malnutrition, and weight loss. The drug also leads to insomnia, abscesses, infections, sores, and nasal pathway damage.
Crestview Recovery Can Help You Quit Meth
Meth addiction can have several serious consequences, including health problems, relationship problems, financial problems, and legal problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, it is important to get help as soon as possible. There are a number of treatment options available, and with the right help, it is possible to recover from meth addiction and lead a healthy, happy life.
Crestview Recovery treats meth and other drug problems. We offer several programs, including:
- Extended care: This program provides long-term care for people who have been through detox and other forms of treatment.
- Outpatient treatment: Allows people to live at home while they receive treatment.
- Intensive outpatient: This program is for people who need more support than what is available through outpatient treatment.
- Partial hospitalization: For people who need more support than what is available through intensive outpatient treatment.
- Aftercare: For people who have completed treatment and need help staying sober.
Since we use evidence-based methods, our treatment services include individual and trauma therapies. Our team also has training in dual-diagnosis therapy. Whether you need a women’s or men’s drug rehab program, Crestview Recovery can give you the support that you need.
Don’t let meth destroy your life any more than it already has. Stop the cycle, and overcome meth abuse or addiction. Reach out to Crestview Recovery today at 866.262.0531 to start your journey to recovery through substance use treatment.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.