is an addictive drug that belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants
which includes cocaine and caffeine. Methamphetamine is made illegally with
relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. Many of these
ingredients, such as drain cleaner, battery acid, and antifreeze, are
Methamphetamine has many effects on the brain and body. Short-term
effects can include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity,
decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia, irritability,
tremors, convulsions, and aggressiveness.
Long-term effects can include addiction, stroke, violent behavior,
anxiety, confusion, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances,
and delusions. Used long-term, Methamphetamine can damage dopamine neurons
and affect users long after the drug use has stopped.
It acts on the pleasure circuit of the brain by altering certain
neurotransmitters present in the synapse and causes dopamine and
norepinephrine to be released. Methamphetamine is chemically similar to the
neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine and is carried by the same
transporter molecules that normally carry dopamine or norepinephrine.
While enzymes usually beak down excess dopamine and norepinephrine,
methamphetamine blocks this breakdown. This high concentration of dopamine
causes feelings of pleasure and euphoria. It can also affect the brain by
causing cerebral edema, brain hemorrhage, paranoia, and hallucinations.
These effects maybe long-lasting and even permanent.
Research shows that even three years after discontinuing chronic
methamphetamine abuse, users still have a reduction in their brain's ability
to transport dopamine back into neurons which effects many brain functions
including experiences of pleasure, mood, and movement.
This mimics Parkinson disease which is characterized by a progressive
loss of dopamine neurons in brain regions involved in movement. Long-term
use of methamphetamines can lease to symptoms of Parkinson's disease, high
blood pressure, arrhythmias, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea,
vomiting, and diarrhea.