Crystal meth is a dangerous drug. It can rob you of both your physical and mental health and your ability to enjoy life. Two areas at particular risk from sustained meth use are the brain and the lungs.

Crystal meth increases dopamine and norepinephrine production in the brain initially. However, after a while it actually destroys the dopamine receptors, making it impossible to feel pleasure from anything. Meth also releases adrenaline, and chronic use can lead to paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, and delusions. P.E.T. scan studies show that for some users, it can take up to two years for brain function to return to where it was prior to the meth use.

Using crystal meth for a long period of time, especially when it is smoked, creates a significant amount of brain damage. A meth user can experience symptoms comparable to traumatic brain injuries as a result of long-term use.

The big question is whether there is a way to fix this brain damage. Cognitive therapy, which seeks to retrain an addict’s thinking and behavioral patterns, can be beneficial. A therapist will help you evaluate negative or harmful thoughts, memories, or triggers and develop ways to restructure them. Finding pleasure or feeling gratitude related to sobriety can help change the addict’s thinking. Because you’re used to the dopamine rush, life without meth might feel dull, but after long enough without the drug, you can begin to enjoy other things. Think of it like this – if you eat caviar every day, it’s no longer a special treat or even something you can appreciate. But if you were to stop and spend a month having normal, everyday food, the next time you try caviar it’s going to taste even better than you remember.

Meth has also been linked to meningoencephalitis, or inflammation of the brain and its surrounding membranes. When the drug is injected, it can accumulate in the lungs, increases the chances of a fungal infection. the infection can then travel to the brain.

One study by Long Island University-Post and Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that in mice who had been injected by the fungus, 100 percent of the mice that had been injected with crystal meth were dead, compared to 50percent of the control group. The theory is that meth can cause the blood-brain barrier to become more porous, allowing the fungus and other potentially fatal pathogens to reach the central nervous system. There are medicines to treat the fungus itself, but by the time it turns into meningoencephalitis, it is always fatal. People who use meth have weakened immune systems, which can make it easier for the fungus to worsen. Many IV drug users also have HIV or AIDS, which seriously compromises the immune system and makes infections likely.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.



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