Studies million people using methamphetamineworldwide, and about 5% of

Studies regarding patients with schizophrenia, and patients abusing methamphetaminedrugs have shown that both groups suffer from similar, if not identical, mental problems. That isnot to say that every individual with schizophrenia is, or has, at one point, usedmethamphetamine; nor does it mean that methamphetamine users will end up exhibitingschizophrenic symptoms. This simply means that in a certain demographic (specifically thatconsisting of people with both drug problems and pre-existing mental problems) thedevelopment of this mental disorder can be directly influenced by their usingmethamphetamines.Many people don’t realize that some drug abusers who experience mental imbalance suchas delusions, hallucinations, and illusions are not just suffering from their drug of choice. Whilethis may be the case for many drug abusers, there are others who are suffering from legitimatemental illnesses in addition to their drug’s effects. The focus of these studies will be onmethamphetamine – a relatively popular drug, ranking third in use behind marijuana and alcohol(D., Cohen, 2014, p. 3.21). There is an estimated 51 million people using methamphetamineworldwide, and about 5% of the adult population in the United States have usedmethamphetamine on at least one occasion (Li, 2014). Users of methamphetamine experience ahigh that lasts about 4 to 6 hours, during which time neurotransmitters are being sent out andaffecting the fight-or-flight area of the brain. With prolonged use of this drug the brain becomesextremely negatively impacted on a possibly permanent basis. The effects on the brain can besubstantial: a study on 22 meth users showed that about 11% of their limbic gray matter (mostly consisting of the hippocampus) was lost (D., Cohen, 2014). Meth users have also indicatedsevere memory problems after or during heavy use – stating that they can only remember smallpieces of their lives from current time, to years in the past. In addition to loss of brain matter andmemory, methamphetamine users can also experience enhanced alertness (possibly turning intoparanoia), intense and persisting anxiety, confusion, and hallucinations. Increased paranoia can,in some cases, cause the user to become overly suspicious of the actions of family, friends, etc.,which can lead to aggressiveness. In addition to possible aggressive behavior, users can developMethamphetamine Induced Psychosis (MAP) which closely resembles the symptoms ofschizophrenia. Someone suffering from MAP can experience vivid hallucinations, paranoiddelusions, and loss of reality – exactly like someone suffering from schizophrenia. Meth userscan return to a normal state once their brain chemistry has reached homeostasis once again,although symptoms can pop up again later; moreover, because it is impacted by heavymethamphetamine use, it is possible for the brain to become permanently damaged. This meansthat even symptoms that did not come from the users’ pre-existing mental disorder can persist forthe rest of their life.Symptoms stemming from methamphetamine-induced psychosis (MAP) can be eerilylike those of schizophrenia. Understanding the similarities and differences between the two couldlead to early differentiation of these conditions, resulting in more efficient treatment strategies(Crocker, 2014). It has been discovered, through several studies, that these conditions may besimilar on a cellular level. According to research done by Crocker at 3Tesla, over 55% of peoplewith MAP experience a relapse and over 38% of these relapsed individuals are eventuallydiagnosed with schizophrenia. Glutamate receptors in the brain may in fact be at least one of thereasons psychosis can become so extreme; moreover, the disruption of correct glutamate receptor functioning can negatively impact a developing brain – this supports the theories ofschizophrenia being impacted on a neurodevelopmental level. Using methamphetamine, on theother hand, impacts the glutamate receptors via chemicals rather than genetic or pre-existingproblems from an early age. Because effects from methamphetamine can continue to impact thebody months after use, glutamate damage can continue to occur even if the individual ceases touse meth. Clinical studies using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) reported notablelevels of difference in glutamate between two groups consisting of schizophrenic individuals,and MAP individuals. The schizophrenic group reported increased levels of glutamate in thedorsal frontal region, striatum, and caudate. The MAP group reported increased glutamate levelsin frontal white matter but reduced levels of glutamate and glutamine in medial-frontal graymatter (Crocker, 2014). In addition to this, only the MAP group reported reduced activation inthe pre-frontal cortex, suggesting that this effect is inherent only to methamphetamine use andwould not be seen in someone purely suffering from schizophrenia. Both groups had significantdifferences in blood flow to the brain, further suggesting commonalities between people withMAP, and people with schizophrenia.An additional study conducted by K. Yamamuro and colleagues in Scientific Reportsreported a notable difference in oxyhemoglobin levels between patients with MAP andschizophrenia. During these studies (conducted using near-infrared spectroscopy, or NIRS) thesetwo groups were asked to perform cognitive tests, such as verbal fluency, while the NIRSmachine measured their oxyhemoglobin levels every 0.1 seconds. In addition to using the NIRS,both groups’ neurocognitive function and clinical psychopathology were measured with Positiveand Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia(BACS), which are used to measure the severity of symptoms in people with schizophrenia. What they found was the oxyhemoglobin levels were much higher in those with MAP versusthose with schizophrenia, whereas there was no difference in either the PANSS or BACS scores.This further proves that while there is recognizable difference between those with MAP andthose with schizophrenia, it cannot be found by any verbal test, which is why it has been sodifficult for people to understand what is occurring in the minds of those suffering from anydrug-induced psychosis.What these findings imply is that methamphetamine is a serious risk factor forschizophrenia. Brain damage that occurs due to this drug plays a significant role in schizophrenicdevelopment. A study in Thailand found that about 25% of methamphetamine users who hadbeen hospitalized due to an acute psychotic episode were diagnosed with schizophrenia during a5-year follow up (Li, 2014). Those with family members who suffer from schizophrenia aremuch more likely to develop schizophrenia due to methamphetamine use; moreover, those withfamilial schizophrenic ties were two times more likely to suffer from persistent psychosis ratherthan experience short-lived symptoms. It would be extremely helpful if there was more access toinformation pertaining to methamphetamine abusers and their siblings who do not abusemethamphetamine. Unfortunately, not enough of these studies have been conducted, and ourability to get more in-depth observation of cognitive function and abnormalities are lacking – inshort, there are not enough reports of MAP that can reach this field of study. With that said,doctors can now recognize differences in glutamate and oxyhemoglobin levels via neurologicalbrain scans, therefore allowing them to better understand what their patient is suffering from.