How Does Meth Affect the Brain?

Whether you call it speed, crystal meth, crank or tweak, it all leads you to the same place. Methamphetamine is a highly potent and frequently abused drug.

The drug was originally used in a healthcare setting for a variety of purposes. It was once found in nasal decongestants, used to help treat individuals suffering from forms of ADHD, and even given to obese medical patients to help them lose weight. While the medical intentions of meth were clear, it’s much more commonly used and abused because of its long-lasting highs and euphoria-like side effects.

The High: Short-Term Effects of Meth on the Brain

First things first – In order to understand how meth affects the brain, it’s important to know how it produces the initial high.

Certain neurotransmitters in the brain are highly affected by meth. When a person abuses methamphetamine, excess levels of dopamine neurotransmitters are released into the brain. This produces a feeling of pleasure that can last up to 12 hours.

When your brain is functioning normally, dopamine is recycled and stored for later. But when on meth, the brain becomes overly stimulated and the dopamine does not get reprocessed.

Once those feelings of euphoria do wear off, users typically experience a major drop in mood, which can lead to very unpleasant feelings. To avoid this, users will take more of the drug and sometimes at a higher dose. This is typically how addiction happens.

After the High: Long-Term Effects of Meth on the Brain

Prolonged use of methamphetamine can lead to extensive and long-term damage to a person’s body and brain. A meth addiction can damage the brain’s neurotransmitters permanently, especially dopamine and serotonin. These two transmitters are responsible for affecting how a person feels, acts and thinks. The long-term side effects can lead to anxiety, confusion, visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia and much more.

Meth addiction can take a toll on a person’s entire body. It can lead to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Psychosis
  • Damage to the blood vessels in the brain
  • Strokes
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • And more

Despite the damage meth can cause, there is still hope for recovery. It’s important to know that with prolonged abstinence from meth, dopamine transmitters can be restored. If you or a loved one is suffering from a meth addiction, it’s important to get help immediately to prevent further damage and to start on the road to recovery.

Get Back on Track at Spirit Mountain Recovery Center

Spirit Mountain Recovery is ideally located in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, just north of Salt Lake City. It is our goal to offer more than just a traditional recovery program. We offer drug and alcohol rehabilitation using our remarkable programs. We help our clients reorient their life goals and find joy outside of addiction.

Contact us today to get answers from an admissions counselor about how we can help you.