Methamphetamine is one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets of America. The drug is one that causes the user to do things that he or she would never do in a sober state of mind. It is known to take a user completely out of reality and into a world of delusion. “Meth”, a street term for methamphetamine, is also a highly addictive drug that impairs vital parts of the brain which impair judgment, impulse control, and consequential behavior. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. The central nervous system is the main hub of the human brain. Due to this, methamphetamine may go hand in hand with risky behavior based on new research studies.
Methamphetamine has been also shown to increase the ability of the brain’s dopamine production. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is directly related to reward, pleasure, and specific motor functions like speaking or movement. The long-term effects of the drug are anxiety and acts of violence. Often times it can also be associated with psychosis such as hallucination or delusions. Users may imagine something far beyond what is actually happening in reality. In fact, long-term use may also take more than years to reverse the mental damage.
Meth Use & Risky Behavior
Studies that have been done at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) showed a connection to the risky behavior associated with the use of methamphetamine. While using “meth”, a person’s brain becomes much less sensitive than normal. This lack of sensitivity will affect various levels of decision making, especially in the emotional realm. The study pulled in 25 meth users and 27 non-users as the control group, both examined by the use MRI’s. An MRI examines functionality of various portions of the brain. Each group was given a Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). This test had each group pumping a balloon in order to increase an amount of money, or pumping it too much thus popping a balloon to cash out. The study showed that meth users pumped the balloon far more often than those who do not use the drug, thus bursting the balloon. It appeared that this group did not have a sense of reality or control when it came to the sensation of connecting pumping with earning money.
The MRI connected to this result by showing a lack of sensitivity for risk in a region of the brain connected to emotional impulse. This short-term research of methamphetamine users was also helpful in connecting to the long-term research. Researchers have pointed out that long-term user addiction have been linked to brain abnormalities in the region that effect risky decision-making. Due to this, researchers are hopeful that drug rehabilitation centers will use this research in helping addicts overcome these issues.
Resolving Risky Decision Making Caused by Addiction
Risky-decision making is now a focal point of recovering meth addicts in some rehabilitation centers. Studies like the one at UCLA promote how helpful that is to a recovering meth addict. This research will also become a springboard to further research on the effects of meth on a user. Using a drug like methamphetamine has caused users to do unthinkable things in life, that seem surreal to the user.
Murder would be amongst one of those things, tempting their psychosis. The main way to begin a full recovery from an addiction to a drug as lethal as methamphetamine is with the support of family and full rehabilitation center. These centers provide the physical and emotional support that a person may need to recover fully from the negative effects of a powerful drug such as methamphetamine.