Your Brain On Crystal Meth
What Is Crystal Meth?
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a highly addictive stimulant that, with habitual use, can significantly impair cognitive function. Meth is usually found in the form of white powder, with no smell, but a bitter taste. Meth may also appear in pill form or crystallized form—which is also referred to as crystal meth. Meth can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously with a needle.
Crystal meth is extremely addictive, to the point where individuals have reported being addicted even after using crystal meth only once. It can also have devastating and life-threatening effects, but despite its dangers, in 2013 about 12.3 million people over 12 years of age reported using methamphetamine at some point during their lifetime.
History of Crystal Meth
Crystal meth has a long history. Methamphetamine’s parent drug, amphetamine, was first synthesized in 1887 at the University of Berlin. About 30 years later, Japan began making a more powerful, chemically modified version of the drug called methamphetamine, which was not widely used until World War II, when soldiers used amphetamine-type stimulants to reduce fatigue and suppress appetite.
When comparing methamphetamine and amphetamines, the major difference between the two is that methamphetamine has more potent and longer-lasting effects, due to methamphetamine’s ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier more quickly.
After the war, methamphetamine was medically approved to treat depression as well as prescribed as a weight loss aid in the United States. Abuse began to peak in the 1960s, and by 1971 the government made the majority of methamphetamine use illegal. Since then, methamphetamine has been manufactured and distributed by “super labs”—large facilities that produce large quantities of extremely potent meth—as well as home labs.
Your Brain On Crystal Meth
Methamphetamine is a stimulant, or “upper.” This means that its effect on the central nervous system is activating.
Short-term effects of methamphetamine include:
- Increased wakefulness, decreased fatigue
- Increased activity
- Increased attention
- Euphoric feelings
- Decreased hunger
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased body temperature
Research has shown that individuals who have regularly used meth are associated with impaired memory and slowed motor skills, even after long abstinence from the drug.
Crystal meth users are also at significant risk for psychological and behavioral issues, including confusion, mood disturbances, paranoia, and violent behavior. Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, are also possible. In particular, the delusion of bugs crawling underneath the skin has been often reported, so much so that the sensation is known as “meth mites.”
The damage crystal meth does to the brain is progressive, and can be extensive. And notably, research studies are still being conducted on whether or not the brain can fully recover from the damage caused by crystal meth. In some cases, such as the death of brain cells due to meth use, the effects can be profound and lasting.
Common physical consequences of regular meth use include severe dental problems, such as tooth decay and tooth loss, extreme weight loss, and skin sores.
Need Help? We Are Here
Addiction can affect anyone. If you or a loved one are currently living with addiction or alcoholism, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services. Oasis Recovery was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
- Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
- Aftercare Services
Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track.