Sunday, July 31, 2011

Methamphetamine Abuse and Parkinson’s Disease

After witnessing methamphetamine’s destructive effects on individuals and families first hand through the eyes of CPDD/NIDA Media award winner Justin Hunt's film American Meth, we now are learning that methamphetamine abuse appears to increase a person’s risk for later development of Parkinson’s Disease.  Parkinson's Disease is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that damages the dopamine neurotransmitter system, resulting in movement abnormalities.

In a new study to be published in CPDD’s journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a link has been established between methamphetamine abuse resulting in a hospitalization and later development of Parkinson’s Disease.

This large scale population-based California cohort retrospective study assessed medical records of over 40,000 people hospitalized with a diagnosis of methamphetamine abuse (including abuse, dependence, or poisoning). Study investigators compared Parkinson’s Disease incidence to matched cohorts of people hospitalized either with a diagnosis of appendicitis or of cocaine use-disorders.

People in the methamphetamine cohort were found to be at significantly greater risk for devloping Parkinson’s Disease than both comparison groups. Moreover, the median age of Parkinson’s incidence was 6.5 years earlier in the methamphetamine group versus in the appendicitis group, which might suggest that methamphetamine abuse promotes earlier disease onset.

The study authors noted that their findings may be limited to moderate to heavy methamphetamine users in whom methamphetamine-induced damage to dopamine neurons may exacerbate age-associated dysfunction of the dopamine system.

The study confirms earlier findings reported by the same group in a smaller cohort of methamphetamine abusers, and is consistent with a prior report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showing that former methamphetamine abusers exhibit persistent cerebral blood flow abnormalities in a number of brain areas including the dopamine-rich striatum, known to be affected in Parkinson’s Disease.

Thus, it seems that Parkinson's Disease incidence could increase in coming years as former methamphetamine abusers become senior citizens.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

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