Even occasional crystal meth binges during adolescence may accelerate the progression of brain aging diseases decades later in life.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina looked at the long term behavioral deficit effects of binge crystal meth use in an animal study; and they found that a single binge administration of crystal meth in adolescent rats with a predisposition to develop a Parkinson’s like disease led to an accelerated presentation of this disorder a few months later, when the rats were approaching old age.
The rats in the study had a gene sequence altered presentation of the Parkinson’s causing GDNF protein. This protein, which repairs and restores dopaminergic cells in the brain, was less present in the genetically altered rats, as the protein is less present in humans predisposed to the development of Parkinson like neuro muscular conditions. The rats that were given the dose of methamphetamine developed the neuro muscular symptoms of the disease much more severely and at an earlier age than the rats not given the binge administration of crystal meth.
The implications are that teenage occasional binge crystal meth users with an existing predisposition for Parkinson’s like disorders, while not necessarily suffering gross adverse consequences from occasional meth use during their younger years, may be accelerating the progression and intensity of the disease in decades to come. And since meth seems to influence the functioning of the dopaminergic cells in the brain, it may lead to increased presentations of neuromuscular conditions in people not otherwise predisposed to their occurrence.
We already know how physical and mentally destructive meth can be, and the ravages of even a few years of meth abuse are tragic to contemplate; but with research now indicating that even occasional meth use may increase neuro degenerative disease for people who do not develop dependencies to the drug, the tragic net of crystal meth seems to be widening. It seems that even users who avoid the incredibly destructive and easy to acquire addiction to meth may pay a severe and long term price for their occasional meth usage.
The study results are a very preliminary exploration of the long term consequences of meth on the development of neuro muscular pathologies, and future research may uncover some methods to protect users from the mental ravages of the drug. For now though, it’s another great reason to avoid even trying meth once. The price of meth on all levels is just too high, and even a single dose may decrease long term health and quality of life.