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Connecting Methamphetamine Use and Stroke Risk in Young People

Connecting Methamphetamine Use and Stroke Risk in Young People

As the drug problem in America continues to evolve, many believe beneath the ever-present opioid crisis is another drug epidemic just as dangerous. Another common element of prescription drug abuse has been amphetamine medications like Adderall. Meanwhile, the use of illicit methamphetamine has also seen a new wave in recent years. According to a review recently published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, data suggests there is a connection between the methamphetamine use and stroke risk for young people.

Breakdown of Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant drug the hijacks the brain reward system. Over the years, this incredibly addictive substance has claimed countless lives, and gone by many aliases, such as:

  • Meth
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Ice
  • Speed
  • Tweak
  • Glass

The substance is used recreationally for its euphoric and stimulating effects, as well as aphrodisiac qualities. Recreational methamphetamine use, especially for chronic and high-dose use, often causes tolerance to develop rapidly. Often, this dependence leads users to experience severe withdrawal symptoms that correlate with the level of tolerance.

Not only is addiction a major risk, but so is the possibility of overdose and death. Long-term damages caused by meth abuse include serious health risks, such as heart disease and brain damage.

Common Types of Strokes

When looking at the nature of a stroke, and cross-referencing that with the effects of meth use, it isn’t all too surprising that they are connected. Firstly, there are various kinds of stroke depending on different causes. Some of the most common forms of stroke include:

1. Ischemic Stroke (Clot)

According to the American Stroke Association, 87% of strokes are ischemic strokes. It occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed.

2. Hemorrhagic Stroke (Bleeds)

This kind of stroke happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. There are two types of weakened blood vessels that usually cause this kind of stroke:

  • Aneurysms
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)

The most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is uncontrolled high blood pressure.

3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Commonly known as a “mini stroke,” a TIA is caused by a serious temporary clot. While this is often considered a warning stroke, it should absolutely be taken seriously.

Study on Methamphetamine Use and Stroke Risk

This study uses a comprehensive probe into a collection of research on the connection between methamphetamine use and risk of stroke in young people under the age of 45. Out of 370 studies, the team found 77 relevant pieces, including:

  • Epidemiological studies on the influence of exposure on diseases
  • Case report studies

Using this relevant research, the review compares two key types of stroke.

Haemorrhagic Strokes

  • 81 haemorrhagic strokes were reported overall
  • Most common type of stroke associated with taking methamphetamine.
  • 8 out of 10 strokes associated with methamphetamine use among young people were haemorrhagic.
  • Both swallowing and injection meth are equally linked with haemorrhagic strokes.
  • Only one in four people recovered completely
  • One third of these stroke victims died

Comparatively, researchers point out that rates of haemorrhagic stroke in methamphetamine users are much higher than:

  • People under the age of 45 who don’t use methamphetamine (40-50%)
  • Older people (15-20%)

More information examines the health risks linked to both meth use and haemorrhagic strokes. According to the study, one third of cases of haemorrhagic stroke were associated with vascular abnormalities, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels)

Moreover, researchers indicate that repeated methamphetamine use can drive up blood pressure. This is true even for individuals who start off with normal blood pressure.

Ischaemic strokes

  • 17 ischaemic strokes were reported overall
  • Most commonly associated with inhalation.
  • One in five people recovered completely
  • One in five of these stroke victims died

Additionally, the findings state that men are twice as likely as women to experience both types of stroke. The big take-away being that there is a significant connection between methamphetamine use and stroke risk in young people.

Other Adverse Effects of Meth Use

Keep in mind, a stroke is not the only severe health risk faced by young people using methamphetamine. In fact, this potent chemical has a laundry list of other adverse physical and psychological side effects.  

Physical effects of meth use include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Flushed skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased movement
  • Dry mouth
  • Teeth grinding 
  • Headache
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors

Psychological effects of meth use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dysphoria
  • Changes in libido
  • Decreased sense of fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia or wakefulness
  • Self-confidence
  • Sociability
  • Irritability
  • Grandiosity 
  • Repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • Violence

Methamphetamine use also has a high association with mental health issues such as:

With such a potent and dangerous substance, there are various long-term health implications. Other long-term health effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Infection

Needless to say, methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous drug that should not be underestimated. Overall, meth is an incredibly dangerous and devastating substance.

Fighting the Risk of Stroke Due to Methamphetamine Use

At the end of the day, this study’s findings are rightfully troubling. As mentioned before, strokes frequently have disabling or deadly consequences. Meanwhile, methamphetamine use is increasing among young people. That means more young people are at risk of suffering from strokes. The researchers involved in the review hope that people take this seriously as a warning about methamphetamine use and stroke risk in young people, writing:

“With the use of methamphetamine increasing, particularly more potent forms, there is a growing burden of methamphetamine-related disease and harms, particularly among young people, in whom the majority of methamphetamine use occurs.”

“Indeed, it is likely that methamphetamine abuse is making a disproportionate contribution to the increased incidence of stroke among young people observed over recent years.”

Considering all the possible side-effects, helping young people avoid this drug should be a no-brainer.  With the very real risk of overdose and death, and the high potential for addiction, it is essential that people have access to intervention and treatment resources for methamphetamine abuse.

One of the most important aspects of fighting the risk of stroke for young people using methamphetamine is comprehensive addiction treatment. By providing young people with the right resources to help them overcome drug abuse and addiction, they are improving their chances of living a healthier life. By interrupting the cycle of addiction, there is a chance to recover from some of the health issues brought on by drug abuse. However, not all damage is reparable. It is important to get young people the help they need before it is too late.

At The Orchid Recovery Program at Palm Partners, we know that for many w, treating meth addiction is a matter of life and death. Our experienced staff is ready to help each individual build a recovery plan that is right for them. The health and well-being of young people who struggle with substance use disorder are important to us. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now 1-800-755-9588.  

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