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Meth & The Brain: How Does Meth Affect the Brain?

Meth & The Brain: How Does Meth Affect the Brain?

Meth & The Brain: How Does Meth Affect the Brain?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is occasionally used medicinally to treat ADHD but is more often abused in the United States.

One of the reasons that people use this drug is because of its immediate effects on how someone is feeling, but in the long run, meth affects the brain in dangerous and sometimes permanent ways.

The Effects of Meth Use on the Brain

Like with most drugs that are abused, methamphetamine affects the brain in several different ways that can range in severity. The exact effects that meth has on the brain will largely depend on the frequency of use, dosage, interaction with other drugs, and that person’s health. Prolonged abuse and higher doses usually result in greater damage.

Most people who use methamphetamine, do so because they come to crave the rush that it provides. The initial symptoms are a result of methamphetamine’s interactions with the brain.

The short-term effects of methamphetamine on the brain include:

  • Sense of euphoria
  • Increased attention
  • Crash as the meth wears off
  • Possible hallucinations

Excluding the risk of overdose, this initial interaction may seem harmless, but most people cannot stop themselves after a few uses. The biggest danger to the brain usually comes from the long-term effects of meth. With prolonged abuse, meth affects the brain in ways that can lead to lasting and permanent damage.

The long-term effects meth has on the brain include:

  • Dependence and addiction
  • Hallucinations and psychosis
  • Impaired learning and motor skills
  • Cognitive issues
  • Decline in mental flexibility
  • Structural and function changes in brain areas associated with memory and emotions
  • Neuron death throughout the central nervous system
  • Death of glial cells
  • Brain damage
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease 1,2,3

The exact damage will vary, but generally prolonged use leads to greater risk. Some of the damage may be reversible with proper treatment, but other damage may be permanent. For these reasons, detox from methamphetamine and treatment are recommended as soon as a problem develops.

Even though people may be aware of the negative effects of meth on the brain and body, many are unable to stop on their own. Because methamphetamine is so addictive, professional treatment programs like at our Boca Raton rehab center may be necessary to help people overcome their addiction and find lasting sobriety.

Substance abuse is no joke. At Banyan Boca, we help people who are struggling with addiction start drug- and alcohol-free lives. To learn more about how we may be able to help you or someone you care about, contact us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. NIH - What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse?
  2. NCBI - Methamphetamine- and Trauma-Induced Brain Injuries: Comparative Cellular and Molecular Neurobiological Substrates
  3. Research Gate - The meth brain: methamphetamines alter brain functions via NMDA receptors

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Meth & The Brain: How Does Meth Affect the Brain?
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