The Effects of Methamphetamine on the Body
The abuse of methamphetamine is a very serious problem in the United States. According to one national survey, approximately 10 million people in the United States have tried methamphetamine at least once (Meth Abuse and Addiction, 2010). Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Although most of the methamphetamine used in this country comes from foreign or domestic super labs, the drug is also easily made in small clandestine laboratories, with inexpensive over the counter ingredients. Methamphetamine is commonly known as “speed,” “meth,” and “chalk.” In its smoked form it is often referred to as “ice,” “crystal,” “crank,” and “glass.” It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol (Meth Abuse and Addiction, 2010). Although methamphetamine has many effects, its effect on the brain, skin, and mouth are its most common.
Methamphetamine affects the brain in many ways. Methamphetamine releases a surge of dopamine, causing an intense rush of energy or prolonged sense of euphoria. Over time, methamphetamine destroys dopamine receptors, making it hard to function normaly. When addicts use methamphetamine over and over again, the drug actually changes their brain chemistry, destroying the wiring in the brain’s pleasure centers. Although studies have shown that these tissues can regrow over time, the process can take years, and the repair may never be complete (Pbs.org, 2011). Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Meth Abuse and Addiction, 2010), examines brain scans of several methamphetamine abusers who, after fourteen months of abstinence from the drug, have regrown most of their damaged dopamine receptors. However, they showed no improvement in the cognitive abilities damaged by the drug. In addition to affecting cognitive abilities, these changes in brain chemistry can lead to disturbing,...
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