Powerfully addictive, methamphetamine has devastating effects on health and other aspects of life. What is the net result of chronic methamphetamine abuse? Here are 5 of the major indicators.
Powerfully addictive, methamphetamine has devastating effects on health and other aspects of life. Here are 5 of the major indicators.
Methamphetamine is a CNS stimulant, and its chronic abuse continues to be a significant problem in the US and worldwide. There are numerous manifestations of methamphetamine neurotoxicity in the CNS, including psychomotor impairments as well as mental illnesses. The most common cognitive impairments with chronic use are those of episodic memory, executive function, language skills, visuoconstructional abilities, and information processing. Chronic users also display impairments in fine motor skills.
Motor deficits in methamphetamine users typically do not involve alterations in gross motor skills but impaired gait as well as increased risk of Parkinson disease may arise. Other motor impairments include stereotypic behavior, choreoathetoid movements, and dyskinesias that in some cases can persist for a long time after the cessation of methamphetamine use.
At higher doses, fever, sweating, headache, blurred vision, dizziness, stomach cramps, muscle fatigue and cramps, chest pains, shaking, dehydration, nausea, and vomiting can occur. Very high doses induce a variety of negative effects such as hyperthermia; hypertension; cardiac arrhythmia; seizures; cerebral hemorrhage; ischemic infarct; renal failure; rhabdomyolysis; and wakefulness to the point of collapse and temporary blindness, coma, or death.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine is the most common trigger to relapse. Cognitive impairments, disturbed sleep or insomnia, depression, and anxiety as well as intense drug craving are the most prominent symptoms; depression and anxiety can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse, particularly at high doses, has a variety of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and neurological physiological effects, which include cerebral vasculitis as well as intracerebral, subarachnoid, or intracranial hemorrhage. Behavioral consequences of chronic use include dependence, cognitive impairment, anxiety or depression, violent behavior, insomnia, stereotypy, and psychosis.
For more on this topic, see the Psychiatric Times article, “Neurobiology and Clinical Manifestations of Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity,” on which this slideshow was based. This article was originally published on November 16, 2016, and has since been updated.