What Is Meth, And How Does It Affect The Brain?

Struggling with methamphetamine use is not a sign of weakness, nor is it something that you and those that you care for have to accept. Learning about addiction and getting help with it is critical to returning to a better life. That learning can begin with asking what is meth, and how does it affect the brain?

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that affects a user’s central nervous system. Stimulants increase blood pressure, blood sugar, constrict blood vessels, opens respiratory pathways, and elevate the heart rate of the user.

Other names for Methamphetamines

  • Blue
  • Crystal
  • Ice
  • Meth
  • Speed

The physical changes mentioned above help to increase alertness and energy levels when the crystal is taken. The physical effects, and the “up” that you feel, is only temporary. The “down” comes as the drug wears off, leaving one feeling exhausted and in need of more meth to once again feel the high. This cycle of “ups” and “downs” leads quickly from misuse to addiction. That is due to the fact that methamphetamines are highly addictive in nature. Meth addiction makes it hard to control the use of the drug or to control the activities and thoughts that develop during its use.

What is meth made out of?

Methamphetamines are synthetic and are not found in nature. Amphetamines and their derivatives are leached from man-made sources like cold medicines and are mixed with other substances that increase the amphetamine’s potency. Some of those other substances can include thing like:

  • Antifreeze
  • Battery acid
  • Drain cleaners
  • Lantern fuels

What forms is meth sold in?

Methamphetamines can be found in liquid forms, like dark yellow syrups. This form is usually used by drug smugglers to move their product. It is usually cooked down into a powder or crystals before hitting the streets. It can also be found in pill or tablet form. Methamphetamines have been prescribed legally in the past, as well as made into pills known as Yaba among users. It can be taken this way or crushed into powder. Powdered meth is usually white or off-white in color. It varies in how course it is and can resemble cocaine or even powdered chalk. This form can be snorted, eaten, or dissolved for injection. Crystal meth is more concentrated than powder. It resembles shards of crystal or glass. This form is often smoked or injected.

How Does Meth Affect The Brain?

A major complication caused by meth use is a reduction of neurons in the central nervous system. Brain damage can occur due to the death of these neurons, including these areas:

  • Frontal/pre-frontal cortex
  • Cerebellum
  • Hippocampus
  • Striatum
  • Parietal cortex
  • Subcortical structures

Extended methamphetamine use can also decrease the level of dopamine and serotonin transporters, leading to later depletion. Damage to arteries, capillaries, and veins can lead to hemorrhagic or ischemic strokes in users. Even the cytoskeletal structures of cells can be destroyed with long-term use of crystal meth.

What are the long-term cognitive effects from this damage?

Damage to the brain from meth use can manifest in a number of ways, including:

  • Attention levels – affecting the ability to focus, to switch focus, or to concentrate for long periods of time.
  • Judgment and problem solving – poor judgement and difficulty in prolem-solving tasks.
  • Memory – a marked decrease in the ability to store and recall information
  • Movement – Slowing of motor skills, coordination between body parts, and reflexes.
  • Emotional control – lack or self-regulation and emtional/mood swings.
  • Psychiatric or psychological disorders – Delusions and other psychotic disorders can manifest.

If you, or someone that you love, is suffering from misuse or addiction to methamphetamines or other substances, we can help. We are here for you 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 844-639-8371 and take that first step on the road to recovery. Your life is waiting for you.

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