drugs and pregnancy

Methamphetamine’s Effects During Pregnancy

Inexpensive euphoria, energy, and weight loss are associated with use of methamphetamine, or speed. This highly addictive central nervous system stimulant sparkles before it is smoked, injected, or snorted intranasally, hence its nickname: crystal. Meth impairs judgment, memory, and reasoning and enhances sexual encounters. Addicts are at high risk for violence and sexually transmitted diseases. Unprotected sex may also lead to pregnancy.

Speed Crosses the Placenta

According to the March of Dimes, methamphetamine crosses the placenta easily and directly affects the developing fetus. Like tobacco, speed constricts blood vessels, raising blood pressure and depriving the placenta of circulation, which the baby needs to grow properly and withstand the stress of labor and birth. Meth use in pregnancy makes preterm labor and stillbirth more likely.

Low birth weight is defined as less than 5½ lbs., even if the pregnancy goes to term. Abnormally small head circumference is associated with learning impairment. Babies born prematurely and those with low birth weight can suffer from respiratory distress, feeding problems, and jaundice. The result may be developmental delays or permanent disabilities.

Crystal Use Effects Brain Development

Prenatal exposure to methamphetamine changes the structure of a baby’s brain. In a study published in the “Journal of Neuroscience”, UCLA researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examined the brains of 21 children ages five and older who were born to meth-using mothers. Compared to normal kids, the meth-exposed children had a smaller part of the brain called the caudate nucleus, which is associated with memory, learning, motivation, and motor control. Animal studies conducted at the University of Toronto seemed to confirm the neurodevelopmental effects of crystal meth. Scientist exposed pregnant mice to methamphetamine only once to produce impaired motor coordination in the babies that lasted for 12 weeks. The experiment was described in the f “Free Radical Biology and Medicine”.

Drug Abuse Can Cause Birth Defects

Records of the Hawaii Birth Defects Program were used to study infants with congenital anomalies born over a 16 year period to assess the impact of prenatal exposure to speed, marijuana, and cocaine. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy was correlated with a significant increase in heart defects, missing fingers and toes, and oral deformities such as cleft palate.

Improving Outcomes is Possible

Addiction changes the structure and function of the user’s brain; that is why it is referred to as a brain disease. The neurotransmitter dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure associated with behaviors such as being with friends, creative pursuits, falling in love, or playing with children. Crystal meth triggers dopamine release faster and stronger than normal activities, a strong reinforcement for drug abuse behavior. Over time, as the dopamine system continues to be hijacked by drug use, addicts become incapable of enjoying normal activities. The situation is reversible, but it takes months of hard work to overcome cravings and triggers. Social support, such as from Crystal Meth Anonymous, is needed.

Most mothers do not want to hurt their babies, destroy their families, or die. Fear and guilt about pregnancy may increase drug cravings, but it is important to know that stopping as early as possible gives the baby a chance to “catch up” and improves birth outcomes. Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, or taking pills along with methamphetamine only compounds the danger. The fewer chemicals ingested, the better. Replace drugs with nourishing food, rest, and extra fluids. Ask for help; many drug treatment programs are licensed to treat pregnant women and will give this population top priority.

Crystal Meth

The Dangers of Crystal Meth: Crystal Methamphetamine Causes the Most Disturbing Side Effects

More stimulating than cocaine, crystal meth addiction is increasing.

Slowly becoming as popular as cocaine, crystal methamphetamine is one of the most stimulating drugs on the illicit market. Crystal meth is more stimulating than cocaine, and it brings with it more severe consequences. For those people who have succumbed to the crystal meth addiction, they suffer from numerous side effects in multiple organs including what is called “meth psychosis” which leaves the meth addict with delusions of grandeur.

Crystal Meth Effects on the Brain

Crystal meth is reportedly one of the longer euphoric highs from all the illicit drugs. Methamphetamine gives the drug addict a sudden feeling of wellness and happiness for six to twelve hours. Unfortunately, this feeling is not attainable with initial levels of crystal meth, so the drug addict needs to increase the dosage continually to get high.

The reason for the euphoric effects of crystal meth is its increased levels of dopamine release in the brain. Normal exercise and activity gives the human brain 100 to 200 more units of dopamine. In comparison, use of crystal meth gives the human brain up to 1,200 units of dopamine release giving the drug addict the most euphoric feeling of any other drug including cocaine. Unfortunately, after long term use, crystal meth destroys the dopamine release transmitters in the brain, so increased degradation of judgment and motor coordination is seen that is similar to Parkinson ’s disease.

Prolonged crystal methamphetamine use switches the euphoric feeling to psychosis and violent behaviors that leaves the drug addict in harm of himself and others. Crystal meth causes the drug addict’s brain to release epinephrine, or adrenaline, which is the body’s “fight or flight” hormone. The release is detrimental for the health of the drug addict and the people with whom he comes into contact.

Visible Side Effects of Crystal Meth

The signs in Las Vegas of the “Faces of Meth” victims are only too true for those who have been through the devastating effects of crystal meth. Crystal meth lowers the drug addict’s appetite which leaves his body looking worn. The sunken cheeks of a crystal meth addict are indicative of the poor diet from the drug. Crystal meth keeps drug addicts awake for days, and they feel no desire to eat. The poor diet takes a direct toll on their skin, hair, and especially the teeth.

The common “meth mouth” is because crystal methamphetamine lowers the secretion of the saliva in the mouth. The decreased amounts of saliva allow the acidic components in the mouth to chew away the crystal meth addict’s enamel in his teeth which causes them to rot and decay.

Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction

If you believe your loved one is addicted to crystal meth, it’s imperative that you help him seek treatment. Crystal meth addiction is a serious disease that can cause numerous, irreparable side effects that need medical attention. Additionally, there is a psychological addiction that crystal meth addicts need to face, so they need the help of a psychologist to assist them.