Background: Amphetamines constitute a group of central nervous system stimulators with an increasing frequency of usage and destructive outcomes on the metabolism, perfusion, and structure of the brain. This study aimed at evaluating the structural brain changes following amphetamines abuse, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Methods: This cross sectional study was conducted on the individuals, who were admitted to the toxicology Emergency Room (ER) with continuous amphetamines abuse for at least six months and a positive methamphetamine urine test. Positive Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for dependency and addiction to methamphetamine were also considered as the inclusion criteria. Following informed consent, the demographic information, and data on methamphetamine use were collected. An MRI was performed for all participants as soon as relative recovery. A matched control group also underwent MRI simultaneously.
Results: Forty male (20 cases of methamphetamine addicts and 20 healthy individuals) with a mean±SD age of 28.1±5.11 years were investigated. The mean±SD age of starting methamphetamine abuse was 25.6±10 years. About (75%), (n=15) of the patients abused methamphetamine 6-9 months, while others had abused it for more than 10 months. All cases used to abuse methamphetamine at least once a week, with (85%) of them inhaling it. The results showed that the only change in the brain MRI of methamphetamine abusers was hyperintensities increase in deep and periventricular white matter (only positive MRI in 3 cases, P=0.231). Oral consumption and higher doses had induced greater changes in the brain structure.
Conclusion: Methamphetamine dependency may increase deep and periventricular white matter hyperintensities.