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Methamphetamine Addiction Brain Science
Methamphetamine creates feelings of euphoria by increasing the levels of dopamine in the user’s brain. Dopamine is a chemical called a neurotransmitter, a kind of compound that helps the brain’s nerve cells communicate with each other. Dopamine is released when we do something pleasurable–like eat our favorite foods or have sex–so the artificially high level of the dopamine produced by methamphetamine results in an intense good feeling.
The problem is that long-term use of meth changes the way that the brain’s nerve cells respond to dopamine, making it more and more difficult for the user to experience good feelings. Eventually, the drug promotes a rewiring of the brain’s nerve circuitry that prevents parts of the brain from communicating with each other effectively.
It’s this rewiring that causes long-term neurological effects in methamphetamine users, including depression, anxiety, and problems with decision-making, memory, and motor skills. It may take years for the damage to improve even after the user entirely abstains from drug use, and in some cases, the impairments may be permanent.
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