If someone you love is struggling with a meth addiction, you know how all-consuming this habit can be. But what is it about methamphetamines that takes such an unrelenting hold of their users? To help outsiders understand the mechanics of meth addiction, MSNBC has published a piece on the effect these drugs have on the brain.
As an upper, meth spurs the body’s fight-or-flight responses, so, when injected or smoked, it immediately causes spikes in blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. When it is snorted through the nose or taken orally, however, the effect is a more drawn out high that lasts for hours.
Like cocaine, meth is a stimulant that increases the amount of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that activates neurological “pleasure centers” – in the brain. Meth uniquely does this by causing the brain to create more of the neurotransmitter, while cocaine prevents the dopamine from being flushed out of the user’s system. This difference is an important one, as it means that higher levels of dopamine are in the brain for a longer period of time.
Meth’s ability to tamper with the body’s natural production of pleasure-based dopamine may also be responsible for the drug’s long-term effects. Compared to cocaine, for instance, the source reports that meth has a more detrimental effect because it reduces the number of dopamine transporters in the brain. The end result is that meth users may have poor motor skills and more difficulty with speech and memory.
Suspect that a loved one has developed a meth addiction? Then consider enlisting a professional interventionist to tackle the issue head on. These professionals have been trained to carry out interventions for substance abuse and help addicts work their way toward recovery.