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NIDA

Bringing the Power of Science to Bear on Drug Abuse and Addiction

1: Drugs have long-term consequences

Drugs have long-term consequences Photo courtesy of NIDA from research conducted by Melega WP, Raleigh MJ, Stout DB, Lacan C, Huang SC, Phelps ME. Recovery of striatal dopamine function after acute amphetamine- and methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity in the vervet monkey. Brain Res 1997 Aug 22;766(1-2);113-120.

Here is another example of what science has shown us about the long-term effects of drugs. What this PET scan shows us is how just 10 days of drug use can produce very dramatic and long-term changes in the brain of a monkey. The drug in these images is amphetamine, or what some people call “speed.” Remember the previous image showed us what the brain of a chronic cocaine abuser looks like. This image shows us what using a drug like amphetamine can do in only 10 days to the brain of a monkey.

This image also gives us a better idea of what methamphetamine, a drug similar in structure, can do to the brain. Methamphetamine use is becoming increasingly popular in certain areas of the country.

The top row shows us, in white and red, normal brain activity. The second row shows us that same brain 4 weeks after being given amphetamine for 10 days. There is a dramatic decrease in brain activity. This decreased brain activity continues for up to 1 year after amphetamine use. These continuous brain changes often trigger other changes in social and emotional behavior, too, including a possible increase in aggressiveness, feelings of isolation, and depression.

This page was last updated January 2007

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