Health: DRUGS - Damage for Life; Methamphetamine, Popularly Known as Speed, Crystal or Ice May Alter the Chemistry of the Brain on a Long Term, and Possibly Permanent Basis

Article excerpt

TAKING drugs such as speed can cause brain damage similar to that found in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, brain tumours and strokes, according to research.

Methamphetamine - popularly known as speed, crystal or ice - may alter the chemistry of the brain on a long term, and possibly permanent basis, said the study published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Seizures of amphetamines (including methamphetamine) have soared by 167 per cent in the last five years and the amount found has increased by 500 per cent, according to Home Office figures.

Either snorted or swallowed as a white powder, it is the UK's most widely used illegal drug after cannabis.

Californian researchers examined the brain chemical levels of 24 healthy people and 26 former abusers of methamphetamine, who had stopped taking the drug for between two weeks and 21 months.

Abnormalities in brain chemical levels are good indicators of brain cell damage.

The researchers found that concentrations of the chemical N-acetyl-aspartate in the drug abusers were reduced by 5 per cent in the basal ganglia region of the brain, which controls the subconscious regulation of voluntary movement. …