Meth, which is short for methamphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that creates feelings of euphoria and heightened focus by stimulating the central nervous system.
The drug releases high levels of dopamine into the brain, increasing feelings of pleasure that can result in behavioral changes such as an increase in anxiety or confusion.1 Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally, and has a variety of street names, including speed, crank, fire, or quartz. Such a dependency can result in a slew of physical and mental detriments to a person's health. Banyan’s Massachusetts addiction treatment center is exploring the long-term effects of meth use.
Effects of Meth on the Brain
Long-term meth use can cause a wealth of problems, even after a patient completes meth addiction treatment. Brain imaging studies show that when meth addiction is active, healthy neurons in the brain can be damaged in key areas responsible for memory, movement, and emotions.2 This is believed to be part of the cause of the strange behavioral effects of meth addiction.
The brain changes caused by meth addiction can cause problems such as:
- Memory loss
- Aggressive behavior
- Mood changes
- Motor skill reduction
Other effects of long-term meth use include an increased risk of stroke and hypertension. The good news is that lasting sobriety is shown to improve these crucial brain cells, with some cells recovering after about 2 years of sobriety.2 With inpatient and PHP drug treatment, these conditions can be properly addressed.
Emotional and Physical Consequences of Meth Abuse
The destructive nature of this drug is an infamous reminder of how easily a one-time use can escalate into something far worse. As their brain chemistry is altered, the user may also experience a number of other complications in the well-being of their body and mind.
Aside from neurological damage, the long-term effects of meth abuse on the body should not be ignored and can include the following:
- Dangerous weight loss due to a decrease in appetite
- Painful sores on the skin that can result in permanent scarring
- Severe organ damage, like heart failure
A person in the midst of methamphetamine dependence is less likely to address these issues before they reach the point of no return.
Additionally, some of the mental health issues linked to this addiction include:
These symptoms are especially present during the withdrawal process. This is when cravings are at an all-time high, and the addicted individual will do almost anything to get their hands on the drug. This can include ignoring loved ones, stealing, and generally prioritizing meth over the needs of friends and family. This can have a devastating effect on all involved and can destroy relationships from the inside out.
For a person in need of help through the withdrawal process, Banyan’s drug rehab in Massachusetts is equipped with detox partnerships that can prepare our patients both physically and mentally for the treatment to follow.
Financial and Legal Woes
Being that meth is illegal for recreational use, Americans that partake run the constant risk of being charged with possession. This could end up as a stint in jail if not addressed properly, as well as mounting damage to your financial health. Aside from legal fees and court-ordered payments, addiction can also quickly escalate into habits of spending all money available on meth. Drug addiction and poverty sadly go hand-in-hand for a slew of individuals, and adding the prospect of a criminal charge on top of that only spells trouble.
Additionally, your ability to land and keep a job is also greatly affected by these occurrences. Of course, having a charge on one's record could make it less likely to be hired, but it is not the only thing you should worry about. A meth-addicted individual is understandably not in their optimized state of mind, which puts them at risk for poor job performance, miscommunication, and eventual termination. They are also far more vulnerable to instances of assault and other forms of violence.
Understanding and Treating Meth Mouth
There are several effects of meth use that can damage one’s oral health, causing a condition casually referred to as meth mouth. When addicts are using, they often neglect eating and drinking, which can lead to dehydration that can be damaging to the mouth. The 12-hour buzz may lead the person to crave sugary candy and soda, while teeth grinding and clenching are also extremely common. Additionally, the drug alters saliva production, making a person’s existing saliva higher in protein than normal. This makes matters worse by contributing to further dental decay that can lead to teeth appearing black, stained, or rotting.
Once sobriety is reached, meth mouth can be treated with dental care and support. Many patients begin undergoing dental services once they have entered our intensive outpatient program or after they complete the full treatment program.
Massachusetts Addiction Treatment Is Available
Living with any kind of chemical dependency can be a debilitating experience, and a physically detrimental substance like methamphetamine can make this even more difficult. The devastating long-term effects of meth are sadly not always a strong enough factor to keep people from falling into its clutches. As our country continues to grapple with the ever-growing drug epidemics experienced by its citizens, Banyan seeks to provide a safe haven for a number of those affected.
Being addicted to meth does not have to be an end game. There is always an opportunity to turn one's life around. With the right resources and amount of conviction, you can reclaim your life from this disease and change it for the better. What is important is a true desire to reach and maintain sobriety, which we can help with. Don’t wait and continue to deteriorate.
Call our Banyan treatment team today at 888-280-4763 for more information on Massachusetts drug addiction help options and how we can play a part in your recovery journey.
- DEA – Meth [PDF]
- NIH – What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse?
- DHHS – Meth Mouth