Meth, or methamphetamines,  is an extremely addictive stimulant that can have some profound effects on the body. It can lead to psychological problems like psychosis, it can cause addiction that’s difficult to overcome, and it can cause physiological changes as well. One of these physical changes involves your metabolism, the way your body converts food into energy. A healthy metabolism is one of the most important requirements for a healthy body. Metabolic problems can lead to a host of diseases and medical complications. 

Learn more about how your metabolism is affected by meth addiction and why it’s a serious problem that should be treated. 

Meth as a Diet Pill

In mainstream culture, meth is often thought of as a deadly, volatile drug. The drug does cause people to experience disturbing side effects like psychosis, paranoia, skin sores, and dental disease, so it’s bad reputation has been rightfully earned. However, meth was once used as a medication, and in some places, it’s still used to treat a common problem: obesity. In some situations, meth is used as a weight loss medication because of the way it seems to curb appetite and facilitate weight loss. In the United States, meth is classified as a Schedule II substance, which means that it has a high addiction liability, but it has some medical uses. 

However, the regulations surrounding meth and the nature of meth causes it to have very limited medical uses. Though it does seem to be an effective weight-loss medication, it’s other adverse effects may outweigh the benefits. Meth is highly addictive and can quickly lead to chemical dependency. Its use as a weight loss medication is rare and limited to short term use. Typically, it’s only used in patients who have obesity and weight problems that are dangerous and have not been successfully treated through other means.

Meth and Anorexia

Studies on flies lead researchers to believe that one of the ways meth can lead to mortality might be an anorexia. Researchers studied what meth did to the metabolisms of flies. They found that sugary diets seem to stave off meth mortality, which seems to suggest that starvation and energy loss played a role in meth-related mortality. That means, among other adverse effects, meth can have a significant impact on metabolism. 

The study also found that meth doubled the flies’ active movement, but it decreased their food consumption by as much as 80 percent. That means they were using up more of their energy and getting less back from food. But it didn’t stop there. Meth also seemed to affect energy stores, specifically triglycerides, and glycogen. These energy reserve molecules were depleted over time while the flies were given meth. 

The study also found that even though the resources were being burned, the flies’ metabolism rates were still decreasing. In other words, even though the fuel was being used, it wasn’t being converted into energy efficiently. The research leads the scientists to believe that meth’s effects on your appetite, activity, and energy reserves are a likely factor in meth-induced mortality. People who are caught in a pattern of meth use often lose weight rapidly. Some even have trouble regaining weight after they enter recovery. However, sobriety and a healthy diet typically start to revive your metabolism after a while.

Dopamine Cravings and a Healthy Diet

Your brain and body are designed to make sure you get enough food without having to consciously count calories or keep track of your food intake. It does this through hunger and cravings, which are closely tied to your brain’s reward center. Your reward center is designed to pick up on healthy activities that provide healthy resources for your mind and body. A warm meal and hug from a loved one can cause a release of “feel-good chemicals” like dopamine and serotonin that cause your reward system to take notice. Your brain is designed to remember that these things made you feel good and to encourage you to repeat them in the future. 

Meth causes an increase in dopamine release and blocks reuptake, a function that removes and recycles excessive chemicals. This causes a powerful, rewarding response that your reward system notices. Since meth is so powerful, it can cause your brain to prioritize it over other things like food and safety. For that reason, people in active addiction often sacrifice things like health, hygiene, and safety in order to maintain their addiction. 

Why these Effects are Dangerous

Woman drinking water

You may not realize how much your nutrition and energy levels depend on your appetite and metabolism until you are in the throes of meth addiction.

Meth can alter your metabolism to such a degree that scientists are considering using these metabolic markers as a way to identify and diagnose meth use disorders.

Not getting the nutrition you need can lead to some serious medical complications like anemia, muscle breakdown, bone loss, depression, gastrointestinal problems, vitamin deficiencies, neurological issues, high cholesterol, hypoglycemia, and many other complications.

If left untreated, these issues can lead to long-term health consequences and even death.

Why Seek Addiction Treatment Today?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder related to methamphetamines, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. It’s clear that meth use can have profound effects on your mind, body, and overall health. Even if it seems like your substance use is under control, it can quickly get out of hand if it isn’t treated. Addiction has a tendency to affect a person’s health, relationships, finances, and legal standing over time. Getting help through addiction treatment can allow you to avoid some of the most severe consequences of addiction. To start your road to recovery today, learn more about meth addiction, and how it can be safely treated.

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