On a molecular level Methamphetamine can affect the neurotransmitters in many different ways. Neurotransmitters are essential to the brains function because they are chemical messengers that work together to perform many different tasks. The neurotransmitter systems that are affected by methamphetamine are dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin. All of these neurotransmitters can suffer long-lasting damage just after one use. Methamphetamines closely resembles these neurotransmitters in chemical structure overall.
Meth affects dopamine neurotransmitters by increasing the chemical release of the dopamine and then blocking the excess dopamine from being reabsorbed by the “up takers” causing a chemical imbalance to occur within the brain. Meth also has the ability of binding to these nerve receptors, mimicking and copying the dopamine neurotransmitters and completely tricking the brain. This chemical imbalance has many different effects on a person's behavior. Once the mimicking takes place it causes a very dangerous chemical imbalance to happen within the brain. As dopamine levels rise in the brain, so do the feelings of euphoria. For meth users the chemical imbalance is like the beginning of a roller coaster ride but as soon as the drug wears off users plunge losing all feelings of being “high” and euphoria. This imbalance can kill the nerve cells causing a complete change in the structure of the nerve cell overall. The brain has many different safety mechanisms that protect against the imbalances of neurochemicals but meth completely shuts down these mechanism and once they shut down it results in nerve cell death. When the synaptic nerve endings die they do not re grow and the users emotions are completely altered for good. Most meth users won't feel pain and pleasure because so many nerve endings have died and there world will become very dark and uneventful because of their new lack of emotion.
Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that is drastically affected by methamphetamine. Noradrenaline is another name for norepinephrine and this chemical is the main chemical the body uses for the synthesis of the hormone adrenaline. Methamphetamine affects the norepinephrine transmitters by not stimulating excess chemical release at the synapse of the transmitter and stimulate an increase in growth of the nerve overall. This growth of the nerve could be the reason for short-circuiting of the brain and directly responsible of the chemical imbalance within it. Methamphetamine greatly affects the epinephrine neurotransmitters just as much as it does the others. Epinephrine is also commonly known as adrenaline. Meth is known for blocking the “re-uptake,” which results in excess chemicals floating around in the synaptic gap. This excess of chemicals are then pumped throughout the nerves constantly making users feel as though there are unstoppable with the amount of energy they have. Having this excess energy causes a lot of physical problems over time for meth users. Many users lose their appetite from having a constant adrenaline rush and lose large amounts of weight because the body is only feeding off of the empty energy that the adrenaline rush provides and nothing else. Epinephrine is also associated with the crash many meth users feel. The crash is most noticeable for meth users who have used the drug many days in a row because it causes a depletion with their adrenaline levels completely wiping them clean.
Serotonin is the last neurotransmitter affected