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Methamphetamine and the Brain


Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. Meth abuse can cause severe damage to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioral problems. This essay will explore the biochemical effects of meth abuse on the brain.

Methamphetamine works by increasing the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward, in the brain. Meth causes the release of large amounts of dopamine, which leads to a rush of euphoria and increased energy. However, this flood of dopamine can also damage the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction and dependence.

Methamphetamine Abuse

Meth abuse also causes damage to the brain’s neurons, the cells that transmit information throughout the brain. Meth can cause the neurons to release toxic levels of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that can damage and kill neurons. This damage can lead to long-term cognitive problems, such as memory loss, impaired judgment, and difficulty with decision-making.

Meth abuse can also cause changes in the brain’s structure and function. Chronic meth use can lead to a decrease in the volume of gray matter in the brain, which is responsible for processing information. This decrease in gray matter can lead to problems with attention, memory, and decision-making.

Meth abuse can also cause changes in the white matter of the brain, which is responsible for transmitting information between different parts of the brain. These changes can lead to problems with communication between different brain regions, which can affect cognitive and behavioral function.

Methamphetamine and Brain Damage

In addition to these biochemical effects, meth abuse can also cause physical damage to the brain. Meth use can lead to inflammation and damage to the blood vessels in the brain, which can cause strokes and other cardiovascular problems. Meth abuse can also cause seizures, which can lead to brain damage and cognitive problems.

In conclusion, meth abuse can cause severe damage to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive and behavioral problems. Methamphetamine works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain, which can damage the brain’s reward system and lead to addiction. Meth abuse can also cause damage to the brain’s neurons, changes in the brain’s structure and function, and physical damage to the brain. It is important to understand the biochemical effects of meth abuse on the brain in order to develop effective treatments for addiction and prevent long-term damage to the brain.

Cocaine & Stimulants

Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Counseling for Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Life will get hard at times; there is no doubt about it…how we as unique individuals cope during these dark times can make all the difference in the long game. Some people choose to turn to family or friends to help them through, some may engage in online “retail therapy”…then there are some of us turn to using illegal substances, such as cocaine or Adderoll, to curb depression, energize us or push us through during hard times. And in the moment, even though we know better, we may actually think it’s working. But ultimately, the drug takes over our lives, we lose the person we thought we were and more times than not, become addicted and unable to walk away on our own. The recovery path from cocaine and other stimulants is extensive and requires great motivation once they choose to get their lives back on track. Counseling with a seasoned, professional who specializes in cocaine and stimulant addiction can be a great help.

Sometimes it gets even more complicated when we have pursued relief from one stress not realizing we have added to another. For example, a client may be prescribed stimulant medications such as Adderoll if they suffer from ADHD with the goal of helping to treat their condition which may not be an issue if the medication is taken as prescribed. However, if prescription stimulants are taken in doses and in different manners other then prescribed by the physician, there can be complications. On the other hand there are other stimulants, such as cocaine, which wreck havoc on the brain and body no matter how it is ingested.

When stimulant substances are ingested there is a rapid increase in the release of dopamine in the brain and in a very amplified way. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure, movement and attention. When stimulants are abused or too much is taken in at once, there will be disruption of the normal communication between the brain cells and the release of dopamine. There will be a notable increase in the release of dopamine causing individuals to feel a sense of euphoria…which they will enjoy and want to keep coming back too, which is what places them at risk for addiction. And here’s the kicker, the dopamine high of that first time can never be reached at that level again, but the addict will continue to chase it’s ghost in hopes that it can be reached. And so increases of use and frequency as well as combining with other substances is likely to follow.

Not only do stimulants produce feelings of euphoria, but they can cause other health effects that may lead to long-term complications, including:

Increased blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Increased body temperature
Decreased sleep
Decreased appetite (malnutrition)
Feelings of hostility
Stroke (if used in high enough doses)

Prescription stimulants, such as Adderal, are also often abused and taken in higher quantities or in different ways than they were prescribed. This is because these medications will suppress the appetite, increase wakefulness, and increase focus/attention. Most often they are abused for weight loss purposes or to enhance performance. College campuses are seeing a steady increase of problems with cocaine and stimulant addiction and abuse abuse by students hoping to stay awake and study longer. Prescription stimulants may also deliver feelings of euphoria which may, like cocaine, lead them to abuse the substances for recreational purposes…such as to “get high.”

Cocaine and stimulant addiction are very real and can occur in anyone that takes them, especially if they are without medical supervision or decide to take the stimulants in their own ways. If stimulants are abused long-term, individuals may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the substance or are without it for a significant length of time. These symptoms may include: fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns. In addition, with long-term abuse of stimulants the individuals will have recurring drug cravings, loss of control of how much they take, and a desire to get the drug no matter what the consequences. Individuals who have been abusing or are addicted to cocaine of stimulants will require treatment for medical detox and continued counseling to help with the management of their addiction. It takes time to wean the body off of the substances and also to decrease the negative feelings and improve their overall well-being.


Counseling and ongoing support programs can be very helpful in this process and require different time commitments depending upon many factors including genetics/family history, what the individual has an addiction to, length of time and volume of use, their overall health and how resilient they are to cravings. It’s important to note that an ample amount of time will be needed to allow the brain to recover from how it has been changed physiologically while using the stimulant substance(s).

During detoxification the individual will experience great urges to find and consume more of the stimulant they were addicted to just from cues in their everyday environment that they may have associated with their drug intake. For that reason, relapse related to use of stimulant substances are fairly common. Even in individuals who ultimately recover and establish a long-term abstinence from abuse of stimulants, the persistent drug-using urges from their environment can trigger them to easily relapse either during treatment interventions or long afterwards.

Ultimately, cocaine and stimulant addiction should be taken very seriously and individuals can suffer life-threatening complications from the improper use and abuse of these substances. If you or your loved is struggling with a stimulant dependency or addiction it is never too late to seek help. Watching someone you love develop and lead a life that revolves around such a devastating habit can take a toll on all who are involved. With the right treatment, the right motivation, and great support you or your loved one can be on your way to discovering a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. Don’t let your addiction steal away any more of your life!

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.