how crystal meth affects the brain

Drug abuse can have a major impact on your life and the lives of those around you. If you’re using methamphetamines, you need to know that this drug can have a major impact on your life in a very short amount of time.

What Is Meth?

Meth is a synthetic drug that is more powerful than the sometimes-used amphetamine, which is a stimulant. As a prescription drug, methamphetamine can be used to treat narcolepsy and to help maintain a person’s blood pressure, if it tends to drop. As a stimulant, meth affects the central nervous system. It is highly addictive.

What Kinds of Side Effects Are Caused By Meth?

When meth is initially taken, it may be snorted, inhaled, smoked, or injected. Sometimes, it can be taken orally.

The first side effects of meth are sensations of happiness or well-being. It may make a person hyperactive or give them energy. That’s why it’s so good for narcolepsy or increasing blood pressure; however, the drug is much more dangerous when taken illicitly. The side effects of meth last for up to 24 hours, although it’s most common for them to last between six and eight hours.

Some short-term side effects of methamphetamine usage include:

  • Decreased fatigue
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increased respiration
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased activity

meth pipe

How Do Drugs Change the Brain?

Before we talk about the specifics of meth on the brain, it is important that we talk about how addiction is formed, and how it changes the brain. Addiction is a disease that begins as a change in the brain. When you continually intake drugs, meth in particular, something is happening inside your brain. Evolution conditioned us as human beings to chase feelings that we associate with pleasure. Delicious fruits were scarce when we were evolving, so when we found one, the sugars would naturally cause us to want more. As a result, we naturally chase things that bring us pleasure. When your brain receives meth, it desires more. But, that is not all that happens.

Over time, the motivation, memory, and reward centers in the brain change in response to using meth so that they become dependent on it. This is what it means to be “dependent.” This is why we call addiction a disease. It is because your brain is changed so that the addict will no longer be able to feel normal unless they have the substance. It is almost like brain control. The very first effect meth has on your brain is the way that it makes it dependent in order to function at all. Before long, there are many more devastating effects that meth has on the brain.

Does Meth Lead to Brain Damage?

Methamphetamine can quickly affect your brain. While it initially causes feelings of pleasure or an elevated mood, it also begins to change the overall structure of your brain from the first time you take it.

The good side effects of the drug are attributed to the release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, inside the body. This neurotransmitter is used to motivate individuals; it allows for the experience of pleasure and helps the body’s motor functions.

The problem with methamphetamine is that it releases a shocking amount of dopamine. In fact, it releases up to 12 times the amount of dopamine that sex or other pleasurable activities do. That high is hard to beat, which is why the body reacts so positively to it and craves the drug quickly after the first hit.

The elevated levels of dopamine in the body are not positive. They can be harmful to the nerve terminals in the brain, making it harder for your body to work correctly. The dopamine transporters in the drug user are typically damaged due to drug use, which means that even after stopping the drug, the body may not begin to produce dopamine correctly again. For some, that means that depression or sadness is more likely to take place, since the body can’t use dopamine effectively without the use of the drug.

The brain is chemically and molecularly changed with the use of methamphetamines. Imaging studies have shown that the dopamine system being affected alters the way you learn verbally and impairs your motor skills. Functional changes take place in the areas of the brain that control emotions and memory, which explains why those who take meth for a long period of time may struggle with controlling their emotions or remembering certain events. These effects are often long-lasting and may not heal, although many do after being off the drug for a year or longer.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamines?

The long-term effects of methamphetamines include:

  • Aggressive or violent behavior due to stimulation
  • Mood disturbances, like mood swings
  • Memory loss; you may not remember what happened when you were taking the drug
  • Severe dental problems from smoking or chewing meth crystals
  • Changes in the structure and function of the brain
  • Psychosis, which is recognized by the presence of hallucinations and paranoia
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions, like the feeling that there are insects in your skin or crawling on you

Can a Person Recover from Meth Addiction?

Meth addiction can be recovered from. It all starts with detox. In fact, in as little as a month, you can begin to see changes in your body and the way your brain begins to function normally again. If a person has struggled with dental problems from the drug, this may need to be treated during recovery to help avoid pain and gun or tooth loss.

What is Detox?

You may be wondering, what is detox? Maybe you have heard horror stories about detox and want no part of it. However, these are largely just misconceptions. A few important things to understand regarding detox are the following.

First, detox is extremely difficult. That is why it is so important to engage in a reputable medical detox such as Coastal Detox. The detox process is when all the remnants of meth are flushed from your system. This causes the difficult process of pushing through the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be panic, stress, nausea, vomiting, or hallucinating. There are many more, and they are all very difficult. In some cases, medication can be provided to ease some of the symptoms.

Second, detox is far more preferable to staying stuck in addiction. No matter how difficult the short period of detox is, it is much less painful than staying an addict. The fact is, detox is a short period of time, while addiction is lifelong torment. You have to go through detox to get clean. It is as simple as that.

Finally, going through detox supervised is much more preferable to going through it on your own. If you try to detox on your own, you are putting yourself and others at risk. You are also setting yourself up for failure. Fighting the temptation to use meth is difficult even when you are clean. Imagine having all the withdrawal symptoms for several days. Furthermore, you will not be in control of yourself. In some cases, not using can cause the person to have a seizure or even put themselves in a life threatening situation. You do not want to do that on your own, or put an untrained loved one at risk of dealing with that should it happen to you at home. For this reason, the only logical answer is to get clean by going to detox at a professional and fully-supervised facility. We at Coastal Detox will be there every step of the way to help you. The first step is reaching out.

How Can I Get Help With Meth Addiction?

Addiction to methamphetamines can be a serious concern. Whether you’re worried about being addicted to prescription methamphetamines or want to know more about how you can get help for a loved one who uses meth, it’s important to reach out and learn about the programs in your area. You can call our helpful 24-hour hotline by dialing 1-877-978-3125, so you can speak to us about the process for seeking the care you need. You can also visit our website online at to find out more about drug addiction and the treatment plans that can help you overcome this struggle.