How Does Methamphetamine Affect The Brain?

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Among the various psychomotor stimulants is the highly abused methamphetamine that acts in your brain by mimicking certain neurotransmitters or messenger chemicals at the receptor sites of dopamine and serotonin. Neurotransmitters and receptors function similar to a lock and key where the receptor acts as a lock and the neurotransmitter like a key.

A receptor can only interact with a specific neurotransmitter where it can “fit.” A sympathomimetic like a meth can mimic a neurotransmitter very well that it will be able to unlock receptors and the actions of that neurotransmitter.

Meth is able to mimic a number of neurotransmitters that are monoamines including epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Meth is able to stimulate monoamine release leading to heightened levels of such neurotransmitters in the gaps between the neurons, also called the synapses.

The illicit drug can inhibit monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that can destroy epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, further elevating their levels in your brain.
Among the functions of serotonin and dopamine are influencing your tendency to be aggressive and defensive; even bringing changes to your sexual and social behaviors.

Meth users all too often show exaggeration in many behaviors.

The illicit drug as well as alcohol use can also stimulate locomotor activities and create stereotypic behaviors, which can be random and meaningless as well as compulsive and repetitive. “Tweakers” are usually called such for exhibiting patterned actions, jerking, twitching and picking at their own skin, among others. Such stereotypic behaviors are linked to the overwhelming rush of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the body.

Stereotypic behaviors are also known as “punding” or the act of performing useless tasks over and over again by compulsion. Meth users are actually aware that they are “punding,” but say they could not control such actions. Other tweaker habits that are more harmless include writing, coloring, taking things apart, and putting them back in a bizarre and prolonged manner.

The effects of abusing meth while pregnant are currently limited.

Research on this issue make use of small samples and do not account for the probability of mothers using other drugs aside from meth. However, available studies indicate an increase in premature delivery as well as the abruption of the placenta, which is the separation of placental lining from the mother’s uterus.

Babies who were exposed to meth in the prenatal stage, on the other hand, can come out small in size, be lethargic, and have certain brain and heart abnormalities. A huge ongoing study funded by the NIDA focuses on examining the developmental effects in children born to meth abusing mothers. Currently, researchers have been able to pinpoint neurobehavioral problems including elevated stress, significant impairments in attention, and a decreased arousal among these children.

Just like other drugs, a mother who abuses meth may cause addiction in her yet to be born child because of the drug she uses.

Worse, children born to moms who abuse meth can suffer issues that outlast the several withdrawal symptoms that they experience. Many suffer an unusually high amount of birth defects like cleft palates and eye defects. Mental disabilities and heart defects have also been indicated in huge numbers.

Children who were born to moms who used meth apparently still showed the effects of meth on their mental aspect when they reached 5 years old. These children tend to poorly handle stress and are also significantly smaller than most children their age. They are also a lot more lethargic than those born to moms who do not abuse meth. These children also reached their developmental milestones much later than other children. When these children reach their adolescence, they tend to perform lower in math, language, and even sports.

It should be clear by now that meth abuse is very harmful to the mind and body of users, even reaching their unborn children. It is hoped that by gaining insight into the horrible and permanent risks of meth use, people can keep themselves from using the illicit substance. If you are currently caring for a person addicted to meth and needs help stopping the use of it, ask help from professionals.

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