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Over time, the brain recognizes the excess of dopamine in the synapses and begins making less in order to compensate.

This has two effects:

  • As the brain begins making less dopamine, dopamine levels in the synapse decrease toward normal levels. More crystal is then needed to boost levels back up and cause the same effect. This is known as tolerance, or needing more and more of a drug over time to produce the same high.

  • When the drug is not present, the brain has less dopamine available, which results in fatigue, depression, and cravings for the drug to bring back the energy and pleasure.

Over time, continued meth use causes deficits in cognitive functioning (your ability to think, make decisions, exercise good judgment, and remember things) and for some people, psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices, paranoia, and meth bugs, which is the sensation of bugs crawling under your skin. The longer you use meth, the longer it takes your brain to recover each time.

Recent brain scans of HIV­positive crystal users suggest that HIV and methamphetamine combine in the brain to produce more brain damage than either HIV or crystal alone (Chang, 2005).

In the first few months of recovery, your attention must be focused primarily on the physical dimension. Once you have begun the process of healing your body and brain, your attention can begin to shift to some of the emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery.

Write down some needs that yo

e aware of in each of these three areas.

Have you considered these needs to be part of your recovery from crystal?

52

Session 13: Addiction & the Brain; Stages of Recovery

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