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Effects of Meth Use

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Use

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

What is Meth?

Meth, or Methamphetamines, is a crystalline white odorless power that can be eaten, snorted, smoked or injected. Meth is known as Chalk, Crank, Crystal, Fire, and Glass among others. Meth affects the central nervous system and is a stimulant. It increases energy, awareness and alertness. In high doses, a user can feels a sense of euphoria. Although meth can be prescribed by a doctor, this is very rare. Meth is a street-drug usually made in illegal laboratories.

Meth has a high rate of dependency. If the user becomes dependent, they build a tolerance and need more and more of the substance to feel high. The high can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. Meth can be taken orally, snorted, smoked or injected.

The uses of meth have negative effects on the body and the brain. Here are some short term and long term effects of meth use.

Short-Term Effects

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea

Long-Term Effects

  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Respiratory problems if smoked
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Depression
  • Damage to the brain: stroke and epilepsy
  • Psychosis

Meth can create a false sense of well-being and energy so a user will push their body further and faster than it is meant to go. Meth is infamous for the severe physical and mental breakdown, known as “crashes”,  that occurs after the effects of the drug wear off.

Meth is a very addictive drug because it works as a stimulant and releases dopamine, a chemical responsible for making us feel good. Dopamine is known as a “pleasure” neurotransmitter because it stimulates the receptors to release a rush of dopamine to the brain. Overtime, meth has been shown to have a neurotoxic effect on dopamine neurons and can induce Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s like symptoms after long use.

The “Face” of Meth

Meth is a toxins and the body rids itself of toxins through the pore. Because of this, meth causes severe acne and an overall diseased look. Meth slows down the body’s ability to heal and repaid so any facial problems causes by meth will take a longer time to heal.  Meth causes the blood vessels to constrict cutting oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, including the skin. Heavy meth use can weaken and destroy these blood vessels. When you abuse meth, you are killing your own flesh because you skin is not getting the oxygen it needs.

Meth Protein Brain Damage

A study published in Addiction Biology explored the potential role of declining levels of a protein called BDNF found in chronic meth abusers and addicts. BDNF provides the brain with critical protection by helping nerve cells grow, reach maturity and stay in good working order. The protein also plays an essential role in brain function because it supports the chemical and physical adaptations required to learn new things and retain memories.

After comparing a healthy brain with normal BDNF proteins to a brain of a meth addict, they found that the participants going through meth withdrawals consistently had lower levels of the BDNF protein in circulation compared to those who had never used the drug.

Based on the findings, they concluded that chronic meth abuse results in severe disruptions of the BDNF protein. In turn, this may lead to a decline in nerve cell protection which explains the brain damage associate with long term meth abuse. The study states that BDNF levels begin to increase after 30 days.

Meth addiction is one of the most difficult forms of addictions to treat. Chronic drug abusers experience heavy withdrawal symptoms when the drug use is abruptly stopped. Because of the withdrawal symptoms, most treatment centers administer several drugs to treat the withdrawal symptoms and cravings however the success rate it low. Please seek help if you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction.

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