Unraveling the Impact of Methamphetamine

A Groundbreaking Study

Understanding Meth Addiction and Its Effects

Methamphetamine addiction is a serious problem that can harm both the brain and heart. This drug triggers a strong high by releasing a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which is linked to feelings of pleasure and reward. Long-term use of meth can reduce the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, making it necessary to take more and more of the drug to feel the same high. 


Moreover, meth addiction can cause long-lasting inflammation, or swelling, in the brain and heart. This can interfere with the normal functioning of the brain and might lead to brain diseases like dementia. The inflammation can also damage the heart, potentially leading to heart disease, high blood pressure in the lungs, heart failure, or even sudden death. 


We are pioneering the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to visualise the changes in the brain and heart caused by meth use. This study uses a variety of imaging methods that have never been used before to see how meth affects the brain and heart. We are also using computer-based tasks to measure cognitive function or how well the brain is working. Our goal is to improve understanding of meth’s impact and how the body heals after abstinence, providing crucial insights for future research and meth recovery resources. 

Who can participate?

We’re looking for participants who: 

– Are 16 years of age or older 

– Can read and understand the information and tasks in this study 

– Have stopped using meth for less than 2 months 

– Have had a problem with methamphetamine use in the past 

– Are currently receiving care from Turanga Health or local health services and want to stop using meth 

Unfortunately, we can’t include people who: 

– Can’t have an MRI scan (for example, people with metal implants) 

– Have major changes in their brain not caused by methamphetamine use        (for instance, due to surgery or a severe brain injury) 

– Have a history of other drug and alcohol addictions 

– Have a history of mental health conditions 

– Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the scan 

– Have a heart condition they were born with 

Mātai is partnered with Tairāwhiti community advocate Tuta Ngarimu, of Manaaki Moves Trust, who says “the study offered huge potential for those recovering from meth addiction.”

Can brains bounce back? Recovering addicts turn to science to map the effects of meth

The Guardian, Tess McClure

For more information, or expression of interest in the study :

Dr Maryam Tayebi

Our study is proudly supported by:

The Fred Lewis Foundation and Hugh Green Foundation. This study wouldn’t be possible without their support.