One of the first signs of methamphetamine abuse is a sudden loss of interest in other areas of life. Hobbies, relationships and career goals will all take a back seat to meth. It is not uncommon for frequent users of the drug to display these behavioral signs of meth addiction: Loss of interest in usual activities Neglecting relationships Sudden shift in social groups Risky financial behavior, such as cashing out savings in order to buy meth Criminality, such as stealing money in order to buy meth Obsessive focus on a particular issue or task Forgetting important dates, times or events Increased aggression or violent behavior Clumsiness decreased fine motor skills Distracted behavior in social situations Risky sexual behavior Erratic sleep patterns, such as insomnia and hypersomnia Hyperactivity and high energy Extreme loss of appetite eating little or not at all for several days Displaying a tic or twitch a small, repetitive behavior, such as pulling hair or picking at a particular spot on the skin Those addicted to meth may also have these pieces of paraphernalia in their home, car or personal space:
It is soluble in liquid and can be injected, snorted, ingested, or smoked. It is a central nervous system stimulant drug that increases the release of dopamine and leads to high levels of the chemical in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for the pleasure functions of the brain that relate to reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function.
The production of excessive dopamine causes an intense rush of pleasure followed by a euphoric high that can last up to twelve hours. The abuse of methamphetamine is associated with a number of negative consequences, which include cognitive dysfunctions and neurological damage.
Effects of chronic abuse are depression, psychosis and psycho-motor dysfunctions. Neuropsychological abnormalities include attention deficits, memory problems and poor decision-making. The use of methamphetamine is associated with long-term biochemical and structural effects on the brain and significantly changes how the brain functions.
The excessive production of dopamine causes neuropathological changes in the brain and has a neurotoxic effect on the brain cells that store dopamine and serotonin. These changes include decreases in the levels of dopamine transporters as well as decreases in the density of serotonin transporters in various parts of the brain.
Studies have demonstrated that daily use of methamphetamine results in increased cell death in the brain, which would have a negative effect on prefrontal cortex functioning.
Changes in the activity of the dopamine system are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Studies have also revealed that chronic use of methamphetamine causes severe structural and functional changes in those areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory, which could explain many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic abusers of the substance.
These neurological changes have given rise to deficits in execution memory which are manifested in a reduced ability to problem solve, increased impulsivity and risky decision-making.
Further dysfunctions include apathy, poor self-control and poor executive control. Over time, methamphetamine destroys the dopamine receptors in the brain, which has the effect of reducing the ability to feel pleasure. The use of methamphetamine has been proven by a number of studies to be associated with irreversible damage to the brain and, even though the neurotransmitters in the brain may recover over time, damage to cognitive abilities cannot be reversed.Methamphetamine-induced psychotic disorder (MIPD) is one of the most studied methamphetamine-linked mental health problem, yet research yields inconsistent results.
(Source: Psychiatry Research) The prevalence of substance-induced psychotic disorder in methamphetamine misusers: a . Methamphetamine Contamination on Environmental Surfaces Caused by Simulated Smoking of Methamphetamine By John W. Martyny, Ph.D., CIH Associate Professor, National Jewish Medical and Research Center.
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