man in pain showing the effects of meth

Effects of Meth on the Brain

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2017, 1.6 million people reported that they had used methamphetamine in the last year. People often deem meth as a recreational or street drug. However, most people consider it to be one of the most dangerous illicit drugs out there. The effects of meth use on the individual are detrimental, especially to the brain. Meth side effects require help from a meth detox center. Here is a breakdown of some of the things you should know about how methamphetamine use can affect the brain.

Meth Causes Meth Psychosis

Meth use can potentially lead to both functional and molecular changes in the brain. Specifically, in chronic meth users, symptoms can arise that resemble psychological illness.  While an individual is using meth, they can portray instances of methamphetamine psychosis. Some of the psychotic symptoms during meth psychosis include:

  • visual and auditory hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • insomnia
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • mood disturbances
  • delusions

It is often assumed that when meth use stops, the methamphetamine psychosis would subside, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case. The symptoms can actually still show up for months, if not years, after the individual stops using the drug. If you or a loved one needs addiction and mental health programs, reach out to our dual diagnosis treatment center.

Significant Brain Change Is One of the Effects of Meth

The meth psychosis that is a telltale trait of abuse is actually indicative of changes in the brain. Neuroimaging studies that have been done on chronic meth users have shown that there are changes in dopamine activity for certain, but also structural and functional changes that can be related to things like emotion, memory, and general cognition.

Non-neural brain cells referred to as microglia show increased activity in the brains of chronic meth users. Research has found people who previously used meth had double the amount of microglial cells than non-users. These cells meant for good, protect the brain from infectious agents. However, when the cells are overactive because of being stimulated by meth, they actually start attacking healthy neurons in the brain.

Research that has been done on animals has shown that decision making is affected, but meth can also prohibit the cognitive acknowledgment that useless habitual activities that are non-productive should be suppressed. For example, someone who chronically uses meth may know that using meth is affecting them negatively, but they continue to use the drug because it is a habitual behavior.

Paired with the fact that dopamine transporters are affected by meth, the inability to suppress habitual behaviors makes meth one of the hardest drugs to stop using without professional addiction treatment center programs. The urge to use can be so strong that many people who wish to stop using meth will make many failed attempts to stop before they seek help.

What Happens After Meth Detox

It is common for people to enter a meth detox center and expect that once the drug leaves their system, their symptoms will subside. While prolonged abstinence will definitely help negate some of the negative psychological symptoms, it is important for people entering treatment to understand true recovery can be a time-consuming process that requires diligent rehabilitation efforts.

The good news, many effects of meth on the brain reverse. For instance, microglial cell levels returned almost to normal in prior meth users after two years. Most biochemical markers related to viability and nerve functions also seem to return to normal after about a year. Studies limit themselves to the brain functions of someone who previously used meth after several years of abstinence. As a result of the study, some changes appear incredibly long-lasting, if not irreversible.

Allow Promises Behavioral Health Help You Overcome the Effects of Meth

Don’t allow the effects of meth to take over your life. It is possible to overcome a meth addiction with help from a quality drug rehab program. Contact Promises Behavioral Health at 844.875.5609 for professional advice.

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