What are the Lifelong Effects of Meth Abuse?

The abuse of methamphetamines can have long-term effects. These effects can be more severe than those of other illegal drugs. In some cases, the effects are irreversible. One of the detrimental effects of meth use is developing an addiction to the drug.

When a person is addicted to methamphetamines, they have an overwhelmingly powerful compulsion to find the drug and use it regardless of the negative impact drug use has on their life. This is because of the way that meth changes a person’s brain reward system.

Withdrawal and Tolerance

Like with other drugs, a person who routinely uses meth will eventually develop a tolerance to the substance. This means they will need higher doses to get the same effect they experienced previously. When the drug leaves their system, they will also experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Research clearly shows that the brains of individuals who use meth long-term are altered to the point that they may lose the ability to experience pleasure outside of that provided by the drug. This change may lead to increased drug use.

Psychiatric Symptoms

Long-term meth use can lead to people having lifelong psychiatric symptoms, including:

  • Mood disturbances
  • Violent behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety

Research shows that the symptoms can continue for years after someone stops abusing meth. The paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations, and delusions can severely impact a person’s quality of life. Symptoms can recur when a person is under stress long after they stop using the drug.

The Long-Term Effects on Emotions and Memory

Methamphetamine use changes the dopamine system in the body. It affects your motor speed and ability to learn from verbal instructions. Research indicates that individuals who use meth damage the parts of the brain linked to memory and emotion. Methamphetamine misuse appears to damage specific non-neural brain cells named microglia. These cells have the job of getting rid of damaged neurons.

They are responsible for protecting your brain from infectious agents. However, excessive microglia activity is terrible for your brain’s healthy neurons. Imaging studies have shown that people who use meth can have up to two times the number of microglia cells in their brain compared to those who never used meth. Thankfully, some studies suggest that the brain damage caused by meth use may be partially reversible.

If a person can stay away from meth for an extended time, some damaged brain functions may start to recover. However, it is observed that other brain functions damaged by meth may never completely recover.

The Long-Term Effects on Your Physical Health

The physical health effects of meth include sores on the skin, tooth decay and tooth loss, and weight loss. “Meth mouth” is a term used for the severe tooth loss meth users experience. Once your teeth are gone, they don’t come back. It is something you have to deal with for the rest of your life. Meth can prematurely age a person.

You have likely seen before and after images of meth users that show how they have drastically aged in just a couple of years. This is because meth leads to decreased skin elasticity. Acne, obsessive scratching, and skin picking can also lead to long-term changes in the appearance of your skin, making you look older than you are. Heart damage is another lifelong consequence of meth use.

Meth leads to increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. Meth use has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and Parkinson’s disease. The results of both of these conditions are irreversible. The chronic use of meth can cause brain damage. Meth leads to the death of neurons. It negatively impacts your central nervous system, including your brain and spinal cord.

The destruction of these neurons can severely alter the way your brain works, impacting your attention, memory, behavior, reasoning, problem-solving, coordination, and more. Meth use affects your serotonin and dopamine levels. This can lead to extreme swings in your mood and permanent mental health problems.

Starting the Path to Recovery

The consequences of using meth can affect your self-esteem, relationships, quality of life, and appearance. If you or a loved one uses meth, the sooner you seek treatment, the better chance you have of staving off some of these long-term adverse health effects.

Now is the time to get the help you need. Are you ready to get started? Call us today at 844-639-8371. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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