How methamphetamine abuse can lead to Parkinson’s disease
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methamphetamine abuse
03-10-15 Category: Addiction Treatment

methamphetamine abuseMethamphetamine use and abuse comes with a whole list of negative effects. Short-term effects can include a loss of appetite, increased heart rate, disturbed sleep patterns, erratic and/or violent behavior, hallucinations, psychosis, panic and even seizures. If given a high dose, methamphetamine can and will take the user’s life. For those that continue with methamphetamine abuse for longer periods of time (this drug is highly addictive so it is very common) the long-term damage can be seen and read about on any website that shows before-and-after pictures for meth users. Beyond just damage or loss of teeth, users suffer from liver, kidney and lung damage, malnutrition, disorientation, depression and other mental health issues including memory loss and more. On top of these consequences, a new study has also found that methamphetamine use will increase a user’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease affects an average of four to six million people worldwide. It is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which will normally have an onset that appears around 60 years of age. It is normally characterized by rigidity, tremors, slow movements and postural instability most of which will worsen as the disease progresses. The recent study in Utah has confirmed that methamphetamine severely increases the development of Parkinson’s, which isn’t too surprising considering the serious damage it will inevitably put on the nervous system.

The study in Utah confirmed and expanded upon the findings of a study conducted in California, which examined nearly 250,000 hospital discharge records and found that meth users shared a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. In the Utah study, researchers at the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare published their study, “Methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse and risk of Parkinson’s disease in Utah: A population-based assessment” on December 11, 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. They looked at medical records spanning between 1996 and 2011, separating the 40,000 records into three groups: those whose health records indicated methamphetamine or amphetamine use, those whose records indicated cocaine use and those in a control group whose records showed no illicit drug use. Researchers used this information and compared the control group with cocaine and meth users, matching them based on sex and age. They discovered that cocaine users were not at a higher risk of Parkinson’s whereas methamphetamine or amphetamine users had an increased risk of developing a nervous system issue later in life.

This study also observed the fact that women who had used methamphetamines were also five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease when compared to those women who had never used meth. This could be due to the trend of women in their late 20’s who begin using meth because of pressure from a partner or spouse. Though many women start out using less than men, they tend to escalate more quickly to addiction and are at a higher risk of relapse. However, the gender differences that researchers observed need to be looked into further to determine more information about their long-term causes and effects on society.

This new information may prompt more studies on how Parkinson’s is caused or may help medical professionals make earlier diagnoses, which will lead to for earlier treatment that can help preserve a patient’s quality of life. Additionally, it also provides more information on the negative effects that methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse have on the body and mind of users to improve treatment in the future.

If you or someone you know is struggling with methamphetamine abuse or addiction, please seek help. To learn more about treatment for methamphetamine abuse, visit or call (866) 819-0427 for more information.

Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Content writer

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