Neurology of Methamphetamine Abuse, “Feliz Breaking-Bad”!

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Methamphetamine was legally prescribed in injectable form in the US in the 1930-50s as a central nervous stimulant, antidepressant and appetite suppressant (for weight loss).

It became a widely abused prescription drug in the 1960’s, before it became more tightly regulated by the government in the 1970s.

That  is when illegal manufacturing and distribution really started to take off in the US.

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In the 1980s a new crystalline form of methamphetamine, which could be smoked, found it’s way into the US, and quickly started to replace cocaine as the illicit stimulant of choice among drug users.

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Whether snorted, smoked, or injected, methamphetamine rapidly crosses the blood brain barrier where they cause sustained increases in the extracellular concentrations of monoamine neurotransmitters such as  dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

With repeated use in both humans and experimental animal models, methamphetamine depletes the brain’s stores of monoamines,  contributing to methamphetamine’s high abuse potential – without the drug, users may have an impaired ability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), slipping into a deep depression

Dopamine and serotonin neurons project widely throughout the brain influence a variety of behaviors and functions. Up to 40% of chronic methamphetamine users have memory loss,  impulsive behavior and impaired decision-making.  Continued drug abuse can lead to depression and psychosis.


One interesting aspect of chronic methamphetamine psychosis is the delusion of parasitosis or formication – commonly known as “meth mites”, this is a frequent complaint in heavy daily users of methamphetamine, and can lead to self mutilation:

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AMC’s award winning TV drama Breaking Bad is a well-written and entertaining show that accurately depicts the consequences of moral turpitude and drug abuse:

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However, the show also had it’s lighter movements, here’s our Christmas tribute, Feliz Breaking-Bad or Christmas Meth!:

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3 thoughts on “Neurology of Methamphetamine Abuse, “Feliz Breaking-Bad”!

  1. It’s interesting how so many illegal drugs were once prescribed by doctors. I can imagine a lot of the drugs that we are taking now will at some point be banned. It also shows that these narcotics may have been somewhat beneficial if not abused.

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