Ice is one form of methamphetamine. Using ice causes a surge in brain chemicals that help you function normally.

The main chemical effected is Dopamine-huge amounts are released when ice is used but ice also effects chemicals called serotonin and noradrenaline. If you understand the role these chemicals play, you can see how ice can impact your functioning.

  • Dopamine regulates pleasure, motivation, reward, attention and memory planning
  • Noradrenaline also regulates attention as well as mood
  • Serotonin helps noradrenalin regulate mood and regulates thinking processes, appetite, learning perception & sleep

When you take meth, the huge surge in dopamine explains the feelings of elation, euphoria, alertness, focus and motivation. It also explains why meth can also keep you awake for days and in some cases, lead to suspiciousness, paranoia and psychosis.

It is important to understand that not only does ice cause the brain to release these chemicals but it also prevents the brain reabsorbing them so they can’t be used again. This creates a short term shortage of these important chemicals (for about 3 days) while the brain manufactures more. Low mood, poor attention, irritability, trouble with sleep and difficulty concentrating are common in the days after you use.

What’s more, with longer term use of meth your brain may struggle to produce dopamine (and the other chemicals) so that it takes longer and longer to produce a smaller amount. Eventually your brain has hardly any dopamine and it can’t make more easily. Even if you stop using it can take months for dopamine to get back to normal.

 

This reduction in dopamine is why meth tends to produce such strong craving over a longer period of time.

Need to talk to someone about meth use? Help is available, Talk to YoDAA.