Meth info reports that due to its high potential for abuse, meth is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Although meth can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited. The doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically taken by people who abuse the drug. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs. However, it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.
How does meth abuse affect the user's brain? Meth increases the release and blocks the re-uptake of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) dopamine. This leads to high levels of the chemical in the brain which is a common mechanism of action for most drugs of abuse. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. The ability of meth to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or œrush, that many users feel after snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug.
Meth info notes that chronic meth abuse significantly changes how the brain functions. Non-invasive human brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. Recent studies of chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory. This may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.
Repeated meth abuse may lead to addiction. Meth addiction is a chronic, relapsing problem characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, which is accompanied by chemical and molecular changes in the brain. Some of these changes persist long after drug abuse is stopped. Meth info shows that the reversal of some of these changes in the brain may be observed after sustained periods of abstinence (e.g., more than 1 year).