Addiction is characterized by the compulsion to seek and make use of a drug of choice and can be accompanied by changes to the molecular components and function of your brain. Just like other drugs, a tolerance to the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine can develop when it is used repeatedly. Methamphetamine abusers usually need to increase their dose of the drug or else increase their frequency of using the drug or administer the drug in another way in an effort to become “high.”
Additionally, most chronic abusers of meth or methadone also exhibit psychotic features such as auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions like the sensation of crawling insects under the skin. These psychotic symptoms may last several months or even years after you quit meth abuse. Stress also is recognized in precipitating the spontaneous recurrence of meth psychosis in former psychotic meth abusers.
All of these and the other issues reflecting changes in your brain are because of meth abuse. Studies among chronic meth abusers have indicated a severity in the changes of the brain both in the structural and functional aspects all related to memory and emotion. Methamphetamine also accounts for a number of cognitive and emotional problems that have been observed among chronic meth abusers.
Meth and other drugs such as heroin abuse further indicate negative consequences on the non-neural brain cells known as microglia. Such cells support the health of the brain by defending it against infectious agents and removing its damaged neurons. However, an overwhelming activity in the microglial cells is known to assault the healthy neurons.
A study that used brain imaging, in the meantime, revealed over two times the levels of microglial cells detected in formerly meth abusers compared to those who have no history of meth abuse. The data may explain a number of neurotoxic consequences of meth.
A study revealed that abstaining from methamphetamine use can result in the lesser excess of microglial activation in time. Abusers who remained meth-free for at least 2 years have shown microglial activation levels same as those with control subjects. One neuroimaging study even revealed neuronal recovery in several regions of the brain after a prolonged abstinence from meth.
Such recovery was linked to an improved performance on verbal memory and motor tests. However, functions in other regions of the brain do not recover after 14 months of meth abstinence. This only indicates that some of the changes induced by meth are ultimately long-lasting. Meth use may also increase your risk of stroke, which causes irreversible damages to your brain. Another study also showed a higher incidence of getting Parkinson’s disease if you have a history of meth use.
Dental problems have also come as a result of poor dental hygiene and nutrition and are further characterized by teeth grinding and dry mouth. Skin sores, on the other hand, are caused by scratching and picking at the skin to rid oneself of imaginary insects crawling underneath it.
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