effects of meth on brain

Long Term Effects of Meth on the Brain

Crystal meth is among the most widely used regulated substances in circulation. Currently, it’s estimated that 2.4 million Americans regularly use methamphetamines, and with popularity consistently on the climb. Some of the effects of meth are comparable to other stimulants, which flood the central nervous system with dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin to create a potent feeling of uninhibited euphoria and strength.

These positive sensations do not last forever. In fact, they usually wear off within a 24-hour period. Meth’s less immediately appealing effects, however, can last for the remainder of one’s life. In addition to its addictive properties, which are in their own right dangerous and life-altering, brain damage from meth is both common and potentially permanent. It’s vital to recognize the kind of damage meth can do your body when considering rehab. Interested in what recovery from a meth addiction entails? Learn more about what to expect at our meth addiction treatment center at Promises Washburn House. 

Brain Damage from Meth Use

Meth has a tendency to affect certain parts of the brain more than others. While any regular meth use affects the body as a whole, the particular areas of the brain meth degrades the most are the hippocampus (responsible for memory), the cortex, (reasoning and emotion), as well as the thalamic and hypothalamic structures, which dictate sleep patterns and appetite respectively.

In addition to particular structures in the brain, meth consumption also severely diminishes its supplementary components, such as white matter (myelin) can begin to die as well as regenerate slower. Myelin is what allows neurons to transfer signals more efficiently, acting as a sort of coating, almost akin to the rubber fitted onto wires. Functionally, a decline in white matter can lead to a number of symptoms, including:

  • Blindness or worsened vision
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Decreased libido
  • Poor balance
  • Cognitive issues
  • Emotional volatility

Prolonged meth use damages these structures to the point that an otherwise healthy person may begin to experience intense paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, and in rare cases, even some forms of chronic psychosis. On the flip side, going several days without taking meth can induce meth psychosis, colloquially referred to as “tweaking.” In this state, people can become restless, irritable, and unpredictable.

Side Effects of Meth

When treating any kind of substance reliance, an understanding of how every effect, behavioral, physical, financial, etc. relate to one another is vital to managing each facet of addiction. Each of these is, directly or otherwise, a side effect meth addiction has on the brain. For example, behaviorally, meth often makes a person unpredictable, irritable or reckless. Financially, it’s an incredible burden with meth regulars spending anywhere between $12,000 – $38,000 on hundreds of grams annually.


While not necessarily exclusive to methamphetamines, addiction is inseparably linked to cognitive processes. The aforementioned “flooding” of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are the cause of their own set of effects meth has on the brain. When any regularly produced bodily chemical is supplied from an external source, the body takes this as an opportunity to save itself the trouble of producing its own. In turn, the brain forms an even stronger reliance on meth.

Thinking of Quitting? Promises Can Help

Trying to quit outright can be an, at times, unbearable undertaking, especially alone. Reaching out to receive treatment and aid can be daunting, but Promises Behavioral Health aims to make the first step simple. Promises is situated in California with an array of treatment centers across the country, with locations in Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Florida. To mitigate the risks and burdens that come with recovery, we offer our services to those in need of aid. Call us at 855.298.3104 for information about our locations and how to get started on your journey.

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