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What are the long-term side effects of using methamphetamines?

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Quick Answer

Long-term abuse of methamphetamines leads to addiction as well as insomnia, confusion, anxiety, violent behavior and quite a few psychotic features. These last signs can include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Full Answer

As methamphetamine users take the drug repeatedly, they need to take increasing amounts or take the drug at more frequent intervals to get the effect that they want. In cases of chronic abuse, they may not be able to feel any positive sensations if they are not using, which leads to more abuse. Withdrawal symptoms include malaise, anxiety, depression and severe cravings, notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

One common delusion that methamphetamine abusers experience is the feeling of insects crawling under the skin. These hallucinations, as well as paranoia, can last as long as years after the abuse stops. People who no longer use methamphetamines still undergo those types of psychosis simply as a result of stress, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

These types of problems are indicative of the changes that methamphetamines wreak on the brain. Imaging studies have shown that the dopamine mechanism undergoes alterations that are similar to impairments in learning and motor movement in methamphetamine users. Also, changes take place in portions of the brain linked to memory and emotion, states the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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