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Methamphetamine and the Teen Brain

Crystal Meth on mirror with meth pipe behind it  

Meth statistics have shown us the devastating outcomes of this particular type of addiction. The physiological effects of this deadly drug as well as the impact of meth on the brain cause lasting implications. The effects are especially detrimental for teens. For these reasons, meth and teens can be a deadly combination. Fortunately, teen meth use is low within the general population.

A 2018 report indicates that 0.7% of 12th-grade students surveyed had used methamphetamine at some time in their life. The level of risk posed by meth use in teens requires education and prevention methods to protect them from the severe effects of this drug.

What Does Meth Do to Your Brain?

If you’re wondering what meth does to your brain it can be helpful to look at what the research shows. Negative effects of meth on the brain include damage to the structures that impact memory, cognition and emotional regulation. Meth affects the brain’s reasoning and problem-solving skills and causes behavioral changes such as aggression and decreased motor skills.

The dangers of methamphetamine abuse are significant and lasting. The impact on the central nervous system makes this drug highly dangerous for anyone who abuses it. Teens are at an even greater risk, given the developmental state of their brains. The impact of meth on teen brains is severe, as it reduces the gray matter in the frontal cortex, which influences a person’s ability to understand and process information.

The influence of meth use on the white matter in teen brains is greater than that of adults. Meth interferes with neuron communication and the mind’s ability to communicate important messages to other parts of the brain as a result.

Developing Brains Are More Vulnerable to Meth Related Damage

Teenage brain development is even more significantly impacted by meth abuse. Brain damage from meth use is devastating. The long-term impact of the drug on mental, physical and emotional functioning makes teen meth use a tragic condition. Meth’s damage to the body can be irreversible. Ceasing use can reduce the impact of some of the side effects, but in many cases, the damage to the mind and body is permanent. Reduced IQ, psychosis and nerve-cell damage are common side effects of meth use.

Suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression are more common for teens in treatment for methamphetamine abuse than for any other drug. The impact of meth on the developing teen brain requires more specific studies to determine how it differs from the effects on adults. Current information shows us that the brains of teenagers addicted to meth release greater amounts of cortisol (stress hormone) which can also have negative long-term implications on brain structure and functioning.

Long Term Effects from Meth Use in Teen Years

There are short and long-term effects of meth for teens. As a general rule, the effects of drugs on the teenage brain are more significant than on the adult brain. Because of the developmental stages a teen brain goes through, meth abuse has an even more destructive influence. The structural changes, neurological impacts, and influence of the drug on impulse control wreaks havoc on the way teens develop. Some of the long term effects of meth abuse in teens include hallucination, paranoia, problems with thinking, damaged motor skills, distractibility, memory loss, aggression and violence, mood swings, weight loss, dental decay, and tooth loss.

What to Do If Your Teen Is Using Methamphetamines

Drug addiction among teenagers is a scary reality for many families. There are meth addiction treatment options available because you don’t have to face it alone. In Florida, a teen drug rehab called Next Generation Village can offer evidence-based treatment options to help get you, or a teen you know, back on track.

Next Generation Village offers specialized treatment options for teens and provides a comprehensive treatment program that addresses substance use disorder as well as mental health needs. Addiction can make you feel alone and scared, but help is a phone call away. Trained support professionals can help guide your way and answer any questions you may have about recovery and what The Next Generation Village can offer. Call today to seek the help you deserve.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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