Effects of Dopamine, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Methamphetamine & It’s Long Lasting Effects On Dopamine

Methamphetamine has become a growing epidemic that not only leaves families destroyed, but it also changes the user’s brain structure. These changes lead to a vicious cycle of addiction that hinders the brains ability to process and control the level of dopamine. While there are several neurotransmitters in the brain, methamphetamine has the most negative impact on dopamine (Methamphetamine, 2008). Dopamine is taxed with carrying messages through the brain’s reward center, mood and also movement, which is all negatively affected by long term methamphetamine usage (Fleckenstein et al., 1997).  Because it is easy to get and yields a quick high there is a growing number of users. The prevalence of use is high with approximately 30,000 users in the United States alone. The high usage is believed to be because of the highly addictive properties of the drug as well as the low cost and ability to obtain it easily. High numbers of users have been linked to 16,184 annual deaths in the year of 1995 (QiZ & Gold, 2009).

Because this was several years ago it is assumed to be a much higher rate at this time because of the prevalence and growth in use of methamphetamine.

The social and personal impact of methamphetamine usage is typically devastating. Not only does the individual become addicted quickly, their health generally deteriorates very quickly (Newbury & Hoskins, 2008).  It is not uncommon for tooth loos, hair loss and frequent accidents or trouble with law enforcement. This is largely blamed on the large and negative effects that methamphetamine has on the individuals health. Families are generally at a loss because of the far reaching addictive cycle that their family member becomes involved in.

Long Term Effects Of Methamphetamine

Dopamine controls several essential human functions. Methamphetamine destroys the dopamine receptors and thereby changes the way that the brain works, which commonly leads to permanent changes (Sarkar  et  al., 2010).   This happens because methamphetamine actually mimics dopamine and decreases the body’s ability to regulate dopamine. This inability to regulate leads to an increased amount of dopamine. This increase in dopamine is actually what causes the euphoric effect, however is problematic because the brain becomes unable to remove the excess dopamine from the synapse.

In many cases the users has no idea that their methamphetamine usages is actually causing permanent damage and changes within their brain (Schmidt  et  al., 1985).   This is because they are only seeking the euphoric effect and unable to understand that they are causing structural changes within the brain that further decrease the dopamine receptors and will eventually lead to the brains inability to produce appropriate levels of dopamine. Methamphetamine also has a teratogen effect which simply means that methamphetamine is acting as a poison inside the brain and destroying necessary receptors in the brain, which can lead to disease, structural changes and potentially even death (Goldman-Rakic, 2004).

Laws Associated With Methamphetamine Usage

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug that is considered physically and physiologically addicted. This classification and schedule is based on the probability of the individual becoming addicted or misusing the drug. This is also established because methamphetamine is not used for any other purpose, because illicit drug use.  It has a high reward and is easy to obtain, which allows users to continue their use. While there are good laws in society the difficulty comes with enforcement. Because methamphetamine is so easy to obtain it is difficult for law-enforcement to find or track and therefore allows an increased presence on the street.

Alteration Of Dopamine

Methamphetamine enters the body and then makes its way to the brain and enters the axons. Once inside the axon, it is then able to inhibit the dopamine vesicles which actually cause a flood of dopamine (Dopamine, 2008).  Over time the constant increase in dopamine leads the brain to be unable to make enough dopamine. Dopamine then remains at a higher level which ultimately decreases the brains ability to reabsorb the dopamine. That higher level renders the brain unable to remove the excessive of dopamine from the synapse which leads to a chronic high level of dopamine. This is partially because the dopamine receptors have withered and died because of the poisonous effect of methamphetamine. After this happens there is what is known as a flattered effect, where the individual is in a constant state of depression.

Critical Findings

Meth has similar properties to the neurotransmitter dopamine and is the reason that the difficulty arises. The body sees a similar chemical makeup and reacts. Because it has similar properties it causes an increased in dopamine, which leads to serious concerns for the user’s health. The inability to control the amount of dopamine that is present allows the neurotransmitter to float in the synapse and essential have nowhere to go because there are only so many dopamine receptors, which are already full with all other dopamine (Cheng & Feenstra, 2006).  These displaced levels of dopamine can eventually lead to health concerns such as motor impairment, which can even resemble diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (Moszcynska et al., 2004).

Along with impaired motor functions there are a number of psychiatric issues that go along with the continued use of methamphetamine (Goldman et al., 2004).

Recommendations

Due to the fact that there is such a high prevalence of methamphetamine usage and there are such detrimental effects it is important to increase community awareness. While most known that illicit drug usage is bad for their health, it is clearly not completely understood by most people the true extent of the damage. In order to assist the public in learning the true effects and damage of the drug it is important to publish the negatives as well as the changes to brain structure. Granted this information would need to be put into terms that most people can understand, it is important that individuals be well aware of the deadly effects of methamphetamine. With the education, the stigma that commonly accompanies drug addiction should also be capitalized on. Not only would this increase public information, but it would also assist families and individuals in coming forward to ask for help.

Research

There is a constant source of research that is taking place in order to better treat as well as understand addiction. Additional monies that could be raised from the increased public awareness campaigns would also help with research efforts. The more knowledge and understanding that the public has, the more emphasis that is likely placed on learning more about the disease. Issues such as how technology can improve addictions treatment and brain chemistry regarding the improved understanding of dopamine are all research directions that could greatly benefit society, families and individuals affected by methamphetamine addiction.

Treatment

Because Cytokine chemicals are increased, they create new pathways, within the brain. This process, while it seems positive is actually detrimental to the brain structure. Treatment must focus both on the psychology of addiction and also the medical changes that have come through the destruction of brain pathways. This can be addressed by treating the cytokine levels which would likely improve the outlook for methamphetamine abusers. Research and implement how new pathways can created and reducing the damage from destroyed pathways, can facilitate treatment for therapy (Newbury & Hoskins, 2008).  An example is the fact that new pathways are created as new expressways replace old highways.  These changes tell the person’s body and brain that they need the meth to survive and function normally, which sets them up for further relapse. Counseling and treatment can assist in recovering from addiction and stopping the relapse cycle that facilitates damage to the brain and overall health.

In conclusion, something should be done to address the rising problems of methamphetamine addiction. It is a growing epidemic that is robbing users of their health and ultimately destroying their lives. Families are suffering from this growing crisis and in many cases the users are unable to rectify the damage that is caused to their brain through continued usage. It is important to educate the public about the dangers of methamphetamine, as well as continue research efforts to learn more about psychological and physiological treatment. While there is no right or wrong answer, it is essential that the public be made aware of the dangers that methamphetamine is creating in society.

References

Cheng, J., & Feenstra, M. P. (2006). Individual Differences in Dopamine Efflux in Nucleus Accumbens Shell and Core during Instrumental Learning. Learning & Memory, 13(2), 168-177.

“Dopamine.” Biochemistry. (2008). Web. 29 Apr. 2012.  <http://www.macalester.edu/psychology/whathap/UBNRP/meth08/biochemistry/dopamine.htm>.

Fleckenstein, A.E., Metzger, R.R., Wilkins, D.G., Gibb, J.W., Hanson, G.R. (1997). Rapid and Reversible  Effects of Methamphetamine on Dopamine Transporters. Journal of Pharmacology and

Experimental Therapeutics, 282(2). 834-838. Goldman-Rakic, P.S,. Castner, S.A., Svensson, T.H., Siever, L.J., Williams, G.V., (2004). Targeting the dopamine D1 receptor in schizophrenia: insights for cognitive dysfunction. Psychopharmacology,174: 3–16

“Methamphetamines:.” Montana State University. Winter 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

Moszczynska, A., Fitzmaurice, P., Ang, L., Kalasinsky, K. S., Schmunk, G. A., Peretti, F. J., & … Kish, S. J. (2004). Why Is Parkinsonism Not a Feature of Human Methamphetamine Users?. Brain, 127(2), 363-370.

Newbury, J., & Hoskins, M. L. (2008). A Meaningful Method: Research with Adolescent Girls Who Use Crystal Methamphetamine. Child & Youth Care Forum, 37(5-6), 227-240.

Qi, Z., & Gold, P. E. (2009). Intrahippocampal Infusions of Anisomycin Produce Amnesia: Contribution of Increased Release of Norepinephrine, Dopamine, and Acetylcholine. Learning & Memory, 16(5), 308-314.

Sarkar, C; Basu, B; Chakroborty, D; Dasgupta, PS; Basu, S (2010). “The immunoregulatory role of dopamine: an update”. Brain, behavior, and immunity 24 (4): 525–8.

Schmidt, C.J., Ritter, J.K., Sonsalla, P.K., Hanson, G.R. & Gibb, J.W. (June 1985). Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 233(3). 539-544.

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