Abuse of Methamphetamine Increases Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease

Abusing methamphetamine or other stimulant drugs can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, new research suggests.

Scientists compared three groups: 40,000 people hospitalized because of abuse of methamphetamine or amphetamines, 207,000 people not addicted to drugs who were admitted to the hospital for appendicitis and 35,000 people admitted for cocaine-use disorders. They found patients with methamphetamine or amphetamine-use disorders were 76 percent more likely than the other two groups to develop Parkinson’s disease, HealthDay reports.

According to the article, the findings translate into 21 out of 10,000 people with methamphetamine or amphetamine dependence develop Parkinson’s over 10 years, compared with 12 out of 10,000 people without this drug dependence.

Lead researcher Dr. Russell Callaghan from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said in a news release, “This study provides evidence of this association for the first time, even though it has been suspected for 30 years.” He said that Parkinson’s disease is a result of low levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain, and that animal studies have shown that methamphetamine damages the brain’s dopamine-producing regions.

The authors emphasized the findings do not apply to people who take amphetamines for medical purposes, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), because these people use much lower doses of amphetamines than those used in the study.

The study appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

2 Responses to Abuse of Methamphetamine Increases Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease

  1. Robert Charleston | July 28, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I don’t think that I have ever stopped shaking ever since the first stimulant medication that I heave taken for hyperactivity from when a child . Sometimes the shaking is light and sometimes the shaking is very noticeable and un- controlable. From a recovering meth addict to others… That crap isn’t no joke… I’m 39 and still shaking from years of use. If I am relating Parkinson’s right to where the body shakes easily and uncontrollably. I am glad I am recovering.

  2. A. Barger | July 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I have long wondered if we were not going to see this outcome, given that Parkinson’s is dopamine related disease and drugs act in the dopamine system. Methamphetamine is the one of the most destructive drugs I’ve ever seen, so I’m not surprised it being found here.

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