Methamphetamine was the ‘crisis’ of the 90’s and 00’s. Newspapers, magazines, journals and even television shows sensationalized it and got people all over the country aware of it’s effects and scope of devastation on the population. Currently, those same outlets are making a similar run on opioids, both prescription and illegal forms, but in reality, the number of people suffering from heroin addiction still trails far behind crystal meth and has far deeper impacts on it’s users, especially considering there are absolutely no known special ‘withdrawal’ drugs or medication assisted treatments (MAT) to help those seeking sobriety from it.

Long-Term Methamphetamine Use

Meth use has many long term effects which can cripple a person mentally and physically if addiction becomes prolonged and severe. Like most all drugs, usage over time becomes heavier and heavier as the body develops tolerance towards it’s more pleasurable effects that initial act to ‘hook’ a user, and includes changing methods for how the drug is used. A person addicted to meth will often find themselves unable to experience any kind of pleasure without the drug and stopping use will slam the person with withdrawal effects that include anxiety, fatigue and intense craving.

Users of meth will often exhibit symptoms that may appear to others as potentially dangerous, such as acute anxieties, confusion, insomnia, mood instability and often times these will also manifest as violent behavior. Paranoia, hallucinations (visual and auditory) as well as delusions frequently are identified with users and often times can continue for months or years after a person has quit using the substance. A person attempting to stay sober will often face a barrier of maintaining emotional control over themselves as stress often triggers recurrences of meth psychosis if the user was previously exhibiting such radical behaviors while taking the drug.

The brain’s changes on meth contribute largely to these symptoms. Neuroimaging have revealed significant changes in the brain’s structure and functional operation in areas of emotion and memory, which are where the majority of contributing factors for these behaviors stem from. In addition, a hijacking of dopamine release in the brain acts as the major ‘hooking point’ for a user and is a major cause of repeated use and addiction despite the negative psychological effects exhibited by users.

Motor skills and comprehension will degrade over time in long term usage and a non-neural brain cell network known as microglia are affected as well. Former users of crystal meth will develop a glut of microglial cells which attack healthy neurons, contributing to the neurotoxic effects of the drug. Thus far, studies have only found a few of these effects to be partially reversible, but the most effective way to handle these symptoms is to seek treatment as early as possible in the addiction cycle; waiting too long for treatment can have irreversible effects and permanently change a person’s ability to function within society without heavy aid.

Meth Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

While the opioid crisis has had a much more visible effect on the population as a whole, methamphetamine addiction is still an incredible challenge to those who find themselves or a loved one addicted to the substance. If you or a family member is battling a substance use disorder from this highly addictive drug, contact Discovery now. Our rehab center in NJ is staffed with experienced professionals who are here to help your family get through this addiction clean on the other side.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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