How Meth Affects the Brain

Representation of the brain
Meth can cause permanent brain damage.
Expert fact checked

Are you ever wondered how meth affects the brain? This dangerous drug has the potential to cause serious mental and physical damage.

The Effects of Crystal Meth

A crystal meth user initially experiences pleasurable sensations from the drug that might include euphoria, increased libido and enhanced confidence. This is due to powerful brain chemicals that are triggered from this stimulant. Meth users get a release of dopamine that produces pleasure. This effect feels like a burst of adrenaline that gives them a high.

Unlike the gradual adrenaline release or high that a person may experience from eating, drinking caffeine, socializing, playing sports or participating in other rewarding activities, meth triggers the chemical reaction right away. This causes a person to experience highs that are difficult to reproduce in any other way.

How Meth Affects the Brain

The more a person uses meth, the worse the condition of the brain and body. After a time, the drug actually destroys the wiring in the brain's pleasure center making it a challenge to experience pleasurable feelings at all. The good news is that the brain can repair itself to a certain extent, but this takes time. Problems such as impaired judgment and loss of coordination can sometimes be permanent.

Here are some other effects meth has on brain function:

  • Impaired judgment: This increases risky behaviors, including doing things the user would never do when sober, like having unprotected sex.
  • Temporary confidence: A high can make make users temporarily feel better about themselves, but in the end, this feeling disappears as quickly as it occurred.
  • Intensified energy and focus: Chronic meth users may find themselves "tweaking" which can happen when a person uses the drug and cannot rest. After the initial rush, frustration eventually sets in when the original high the user remembers cannot be achieved again. This leads to a cycle of abuse.

The Consequences of Meth Use

Meth use hurts users in more ways than one. Overtime, the results can be devastating. A person loses their vitality, energy, and appearance among other things. The loss to the brain and body isn't worth the risk or artificial high. How meth affects the brain is essentially by breaking it down and causing a slow deterioration in function and quality of life.

In the Brain

People who have done meth can develop a number of psychological problems. This is due to the changes in the brain chemistry. These include:

  • Increased anxiety or "tweaking"
  • Violent or disturbing behavior
  • Paranoia or delusions
  • Obsessive behavior
  • Hallucinations, such as skin tingling
  • Hyperactivity
  • Permanent brain damage

In the Body

This deterioration of the brain wiring affects physical functions as well. Chronic meth users tend to lose the elasticity of their skin and look years or even decades older in a short amount of time. Here are some other things that happen:

  • The body loses the ability to repair itself.
  • Sores take longer to heal.
  • Acne appears on the skin.
  • The user makes poor dietary choices that further affect his health.
  • Tooth decay and tooth loss become rampant.
  • Teeth grinding further deteriorates what is left of the teeth.

Get Help Before It's Too Late

It's imperative that all meth users seek help from a qualified physician to help them kick their addiction before irreversible brain damage occurs. Without professional medical care and counseling, the outlook for the user is very bleak.

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How Meth Affects the Brain