Long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse


ATS generally have high dependence liabilities. Psychological dependence can develop rapidly and continue as the result of a wish to maximize the euphoric and exciting effects. Patterns of dependence can easily develop as the person’s attitude toward use may be influenced by peer group behavior and the availability of ATS. Additionally, other leisure-time activities may start to seem unsatisfying and uninteresting in comparison to drug use. Further contributing factors are the myths about the relatively benign risks of ATS use and the comparative absence of social stigmatization in relation to other drugs such as heroin.

Psychiatric disorders are associated with ATS use, including a range of symptoms similar to some forms of schizophrenia. The user may compulsively repeat words, postures or movements without meaning, hallucinate, and misinterpret the actions of others while becoming unreasonably suspicious, sometimes to the point of violence. These symptoms may occur even after a single dose. In the absence of other underlying conditions, the psychiatric symptoms usually disappear within a few days or weeks if the drug use is completely stopped.


To cope with undesired amphetamine effects, users may also turn to other dependence-producing drugs. Depressant drugs, particularly barbiturates, alcohol, and opiates, may be used to aid sleep or compensate for high ATS dosage. Increasing multi-drug use and addiction can then become a significant problem.

Chronic methamphetamine abuse can result in inflammation of the heart lining, and among users who inject the drug, damaged blood vessels and severe skin problems. Other adverse physical effects include severe weight loss and emaciation, jerking muscular behavior, including strong contractions of the jaws, leading to loosening of teeth and broken teeth. Chronic abusers are also are more likely to get caries due to consumption of large amounts of sweets, production of little or dry saliva, and general mismanagement of dental hygiene.

Injecting methamphetamine increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infections, similar to other drugs used for injection. In many countries of the East Asia and Pacific region, prisons are filled with drug abusers who have access to drugs and injecting equipment, creating a particularly dangerous environment for the spread of IDU-related HIV.

Fetal exposure to methamphetamine has been shown to produce adverse effects, including congenital defects and behavioral problems.


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