Skip to comments.This Is Your Brain on Meth: A 'Forest Fire' of Damage
Posted on 07/19/2004 8:22:02 PM PDT by neverdem
People who do not want to wait for old age to shrink their brains and bring on memory loss now have a quicker alternative - abuse methamphetamine for a decade or so and watch the brain cells vanish into the night.
The first high-resolution M.R.I. study of methamphetamine addicts shows "a forest fire of brain damage," said Dr. Paul Thompson, an expert on brain mapping at the University of California, Los Angeles. "We expected some brain changes but didn't expect so much tissue to be destroyed."
The image, published in the June 30 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, shows the brain's surface and deeper limbic system. Red areas show the greatest tissue loss.
The limbic region, involved in drug craving, reward, mood and emotion, lost 11 percent of its tissue. "The cells are dead and gone," Dr. Thompson said. Addicts were depressed, anxious and unable to concentrate.
The brain's center for making new memories, the hippocampus, lost 8 percent of its tissue, comparable to the brain deficits in early Alzheimer's. The methamphetamine addicts fared significantly worse on memory tests than healthy people the same age.
The study examined 22 people in their 30's who had used methamphetamine for 10 years, mostly by smoking it, and 21 controls matched for age. On average, the addicts used an average of four grams a week and said they had been high on 19 of the 30 days before the study began.
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant made in clandestine laboratories nationwide. When taken by mouth, snorted, injected or smoked, it produces intense pleasure by releasing the brain's reward chemical, dopamine. With chronic use, the brains that overstimulate dopamine and another brain chemical, serotonin, are permanently compromised.
The study held one other surprise, Dr. Thompson said: white matter, composed of nerve fibers that connect different areas, was severely inflamed, making the addicts' brains 10 percent larger than normal. "This was shocking," he said. But there was one piece of good news: the white matter was not dead. With abstinence, it might recover.
Finally... an article about drug use that isn't hyperbole.
I wonder if the same effects are seen with Adderall and Ritalin.
Read later.Thanks for the post.
Excellent question, BTTT
Yet another reason to just say no. Too bad some who abuse drugs think they are invincible or know they are not and just don't care.
Here's hoping they don't do a study of former heroin users.
buddy of mine in the Navy went from normal to meth user to booted out of the Navy to selling his ass on the street to men to pay for Heroin/meth/crack all in 8 months.
Don't do that sh!+
Who needs a reason. Drug use is against the Law, should that not be the sufficient and the only reason for any behavioural decision?
This is your brain on Moveon.org
I would think so too. People tell me I look surprisingly young for my age. Maybe its genetics but I suspect a good diet and not abusing alcohol or drugs is part of the picture too. Be good to yourself and you'll live a very long life. And with age comes increased wisdom. Our lives are a gift from God and when we remember that we'll be happier.
Depends on the law.
Penny Wood, 1998
Penny Wood, 2002
I would like to point out that there is one more aspect to the problem: many of us know and can name a few so harmful and dangerous people that severe brain damage in them would be a godsend to the nation and maybe even to mankind as a whole. (I am not sure that there would be a unanimity about their names, but a measure of general agreement seems possible).
Thus the question properly becomes: damage to WHOSE brain?
I wonder if she thought a change of hair color would do the trick.
Meth is one seriously nasty drug. It's easy and cheap to get/make, very easy to get hooked, and harder to quit than anything I know of. When I was a stupid teenager I played with crystal meth and really managed to screw myself up. Thankfully I managed to pull out of it, but my cousin is still hooked on the stuff years later. It is really a tragic situation, since even if you do quit, meth makes permanent changes to the mapping of the pleasure centers of your brain, and you can never feel "happy" the same way again.
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