Researchers at the University of Florida said that when treating methamphetamine addicts, physicians should understand that the patients may experience changes in their brains during withdrawal.
“When people treat drug addicts, they need to know that during withdrawal, people in recovery may experience cognitive consequences,” Habibeh Khoshbouei, an associate professor of neuroscience and psychiatry in the U of F College of Medicine, said in a university news release. “Their brain chemistry has changed.”
Khoshbouei and colleagues studied mice during full-blown methamphetamine addiction, examining their behavior and looking at the activity in the part of the brain known to be involved in memory retention and formation. When the mice were on drugs, the researchers did not observe short-term memory problems. However two weeks after withdrawal began, the mice had shown changes in their ability to remember things and had a decrease in neurological activity.
“Current protocols treat the addiction, but our research shows that there is more to it than that,” Khoshbouei noted. He added that meth addicts “should be treated like they have a chronic disease.”
The research, which appeared in the current issue of the journal Synapse, is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.