How Meth Affects the Brain and Dangerous Side Effects

Meth is a drug that has been commonly cited as a primary drug of use by clients at our rehab for the last 20 years or so. Men and women have abused prescription amphetamines for many years, but the emergence of crystal meth in the 90’s really skyrocketed the drug’s availability and abuse.

Methamphetamine’s active ingredient is  “desoxyephedrine,” and it is commonly referred to on the streets as

  • Crystal meth
  • Crank
  • Meth
  • Ice
  • Glass

Meth is a psycho-stimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs.

Into the Blood, Straight to the Brain

A psychoactive drug is a chemical substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier and primarily effects the central nervous system, altering the functions of the brain which result in a change in mood, perception, behavior, thought processes and understanding. Used primarily as a recreational “high,” Methamphetamine Hydrochloride has been marketed as a therapeutic prescription drug for years by the name Desoxyn from Abbot Laboratories in North Chicago, Illinois to treat people with attention deficit disorder(ADD), Hyperactivity and for the treatment of certain types of obesity.

A form of psychosis close to Schizophrenia is the end of the road for 20% of long term meth users, even after stopping methamphetamine use.

Although people may think prescription drugs are safe because their trusted medical care provider suggests them, almost all prescription drugs have side effects. People with even mild cases of hypertension should be careful when using Desoxyn for instance. Parents should also be advised that the long term effects of Desoxyn use on children has not yet been established. A number of adverse symptoms have been associated with the use of this drug, including cardiovascular, central nervous system as well as gastrointestinal reactions. The suppression of growth with the use of long term stimulants on children has been reported as well.

The Effects of Meth Use

Psychoactive substances, even in the form of prescription drugs, bring about euphoric feelings in the brain and body that become addictive to the user, and are all too often abused despite the risk of side effects on the bottle’s label. Support groups and expensive drug rehabilitation programs are often the only road to well being for someone who was prescribed a medicine they thought was safe which turned out to be life threateningly debilitating.

Long term methamphetamine use is associated with:

  • Depression and Suicide
  • Heart disease
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • An increased risk of Parkinson’s disease

Treating Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine addiction is one of the hardest to treat. The spike in dopamine pleasure is so intense under the influence of meth that the user will seemingly “never enjoy life again” because without the drug they have become “pleasure deaf.” There are drugs to diminish the cravings, but with little success. Ibogaine has been used outside of the United States, in Mexico and Canada and progressive treatment centers with some positive results. But, in the United States, Ibogaine is a class IV drug and not permitted to be used in scientific or therapeutic environments, even though it was legal, and testings on Ibogaine were carried out in the 50’s for alcohol and cocaine addiction treatment.    Our treatment center for meth addiction in Riverside helps men by detoxing the body of meth and then keeping the user occupied doing positive activities to that he may learn to enjoy life without the drug. Unfortunately this process takes a while and the user can feel hopeless for a long time.

Because of the risk of addiction, do you think it’s responsible for a doctor to prescribe Desoxyn to a child who is 8 years old with ADHD, even if the child is two years over the legal limit for the medicine, which happens to be six years of age? This may seem like ethical grey territory to some, and to others downright child abuse in the name of pharmaceutical corporate profit and greed.

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