Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

What Do Recent Statistics Say About Drug Use in the United States?

Why is methamphetamine so addictive?

Methamphetamine (also known as meth, crystal meth, ice, and crank) is a fairly new drug of abuse that has swept out from the West Coast, across the center of the United States, and is now moving into the East Coast. Although its popularity in the United States is fairly recent, it was first developed in the nineteenth century and used by the Japanese and the Germans during World War II. It is a devastatingly addictive drug, which can make short shrift of substance abusers in relatively little time.

One of the reasons it is so powerfully addictive is that it causes a dopamine spike much stronger than cocaine and vastly larger than nicotine. This spike is ten to 12 times higher than baseline levels and five to ten times higher than the spikes caused by natural rewards such as food or sex. Moreover, it lasts for hours. Tragically, this greatly enhanced release of dopamine damages the dopamine neurons in a process called neurotoxicity. Changes in the dopamine neurons takes place within days of use, both within humans and animals, and the effects can last for months or years.


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