Psychological Effects of Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine exists as one of the most addictive drugs on the market with no known medicinal purpose to its name. In effect, this drug stimulates signal communications between the brain’s neurons and circuits to the point where it depletes vital neurotransmitter chemical supplies over time, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Methamphetamine addiction causes widespread damage to brain and bodily structures diminishing a person’s overall physical, mental and emotional well-being. Perhaps more than anything else, the psychological damage left behind by methamphetamine addiction becomes the biggest obstacle to getting off this drug.

The psychological effects of methamphetamine addiction impair a person’s overall ability to function in everyday life. The more pronounced these effects become the more difficult it is for users to overcome methamphetamine addiction.

Methamphetamine’s Effects in the Brain

As with any addictive-type drug, methamphetamine’s effects result from its ability to disrupt normal chemical pathways in the brain.

The cumulative effects of a methamphetamine addiction leave users in a continuous state of emotional turmoil that’s only marginally relieved by ongoing drug use, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services.

The chemical structure of methamphetamine closely resembles that of dopamine, one of the brain’s central neurotransmitter chemicals. This similarity opens up the door for methamphetamine to take over brain chemical processes. Over time, the drug creates a dependency cycle where brain cells come to depend on methamphetamine’s effects to function at all.

Psychological Effects

Methamphetamine addictions create a state of chemical imbalance that inevitably affects the brain’s limbic system, which regulates a person’s emotional states. As the brain operates off a delicate balance of chemicals, abnormal increases in dopamine set off a chain reaction that disrupts other neurotransmitter chemical outputs.

As a result, the psychological effects of methamphetamine addiction take many forms, some of which include –

  • Depression symptoms
  • Anxiety disorder symptoms
  • Breakdown in logic and decision-making abilities
  • Loss of impulse control
  • Violent or aggressive behavior display
  • Confusion

These effects only worsen in intensity for as long as a person remains addicted to the drug.

Phase Effects

Methamphetamine addicts go through three phases during the course of any one drug-using episode. In turn, a person’s psychological state undergoes drastic changes in the process.

Phase One – Bingeing

meth abuse

Coming down from meth, or ‘crashing’, involves symptoms of a depressed mood, anxiety, paranoia and much more.

  • Once the brain grows to tolerate methamphetamine’s effects, users must ingest massive dosage amounts to experience the drug’s desired effects. Psychological effects from bingeing leave a person feeling confident, excited and powerful. He or she will likely engage in compulsive, repetitive behaviors at this time.

Phase Two – Tweaking

  • As the drug’s effects start to wear off, users enter the tweaking phase. At this point, brain chemical imbalances are at their worst, driving a person to engage in unpredictable behaviors. He or she may experience –

Phase Three – Crashing

  • Once the drug leaves the body, users enter the “crashing” phase. In the absence of methamphetamine, a person experiences severe depression that can last for weeks or even months on end. Sleeping for unusually long durations and excess eating also occur.

These phases reflect the damaging effects methamphetamine addiction can have on a person’s psychological well-being.


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