methamphetamine brain scan

The Dangerous Effects of Meth: What Every Parent Needs to Know

While addiction to almost any drug or alcohol can cause changes to the wiring in the brain, some drugs can cause extended damage, which makes recovery itself more difficult. Methamphetamines are one such drug.

Unfortunately, for long-term users of the drug, simply stopping its use does NOT heal the damage it did to the user’s brain.  The user’s brain may be unable process pleasure like a normal brain, because of the depletion of dopamine from the drug. Therefore, the user, although clean, may be depressed, fatigued and anxious for months or years — making recovery even more difficult than just fighting the addictive nature of the drug itself.

Even the most dedicated addict in recovery may become disheartened when they are unable to experience pleasure or joy months or years into sobriety — and they often relapse. This condition may last for several years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

So this evil drug not only digs its nails into the active addict, making stopping extremely difficult, it also haunts the user for years after recovery.

We suggest that parents make sure their teens understand the damage these types of drugs may do before the usage even begins.

If the story above doesn’t put enough fear in your teen regarding meth, try listing some of the ingredients used in the manufacturing process. Meth is a combination of chemicals produced in someone’s garage or trailer; it is not a pharmaceutical-grade product kept safe and regulated by the manufacturer.

Try some of these ingredients on for size:

  • Acetone
  • Lithium (yes, like in batteries)
  • Hydrochloric acid (yes, that stuff your teen uses in chemistry class to melt other substances)
  • Red phosphorus (what gives road flares their red glow)
  • Sulfuric acid (common in toilet cleaners)

Finally, if the list of chemicals above and the damage to your brain still isn’t enough to make your teen fearful of meth, you should discuss what is commonly known as a “Meth Psychosis.” During these common states with meth addicts, the user can experience delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and a total loss of reality. This can occur even in the first few MONTHS of abuse.

Personal stories of horrific meth-induced psychotic episodes can be found all over the Internet, including at

Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about substance abuse at You can also find and connect with the authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.


Photo: By National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Marc Treitler

Marc enjoys spending time with his family and their new Yorkie puppy, Coco. He is an executive of a utility company, which keeps him very busy and allows him to travel throughout the country. When Marc isn’t working or on his phone, his hobbies include: embarrassing his wife and kids, convincing his daughter that boys are bad, passing his musical tastes to his son, cleaning-up puppy pee inside the house, and talking politics to anyone that will listen.
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