Methamphetamine is a long-acting stimulant.
The high can last from 6 to 16 hours. The initial euphoria lasts 5 to 30 minutes and produces an increased heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure. There is an explosive release of adrenaline and the neurotransmitter dopamine. The psychological attraction of methamphetamine is that it increases or improves confidence, alertness, mood, energy, sex drive, and talkativeness.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. Some people get addicted the first time they use methamphetamine, while others take longer for this to occur. Like many drugs, the euphoric effect is due to the release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, to the reward center of the brain. Methamphetamine releases 3 to 4 times more dopamine to the reward center than cocaine.
More and more people are seeking drug treatment for methamphetamine. There was an 81% increase between 2000 and 2004 in the number of people seeking drug treatment for methamphetamine in California, and methamphetamine represents approximately one-third of all treatment admissions for substance abuse.
Females use methamphetamine more than most other drugs. Usually 2 to 3 times as many males use specific drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) compared to females. However, with methamphetamine, as many females use methamphetamine as males. For teenage girls and women under the age of 25, nearly twice as many females as males use methamphetamine. The primary reasons women report using methamphetamine is to get high, for more energy, to improve their mood, to lose weight, and to feel more attractive.
The long-term physical effects of methamphetamine are detrimental. Meth destroys tissues and blood vessels, inhibiting the body’s ability to repair itself. Common signs of meth use include acne, sores taking longer to heal, poor diet, poor oral health, and teeth grinding. Skin loses its luster and elasticity, making users appear years, even decades older.
Meth mouth refers to severe tooth decay characterized by broken, discolored, and rotting teeth seen in some long-term meth users. Speed bumps refer to the sores on arms and other parts of the body that develop due to skin irritation from meth use and the meth user picking at them.
Methamphetamine increases one’s sex drive more than other drugs. Many meth users become obsessed with sex. In one survey, 67% of meth users agreed that they were obsessed with sex, compared to 40% of cocaine users and 16% of alcohol users. Women become obsessed with sex as well as men, which is different than cocaine, where the vast majority of obsessed users are men. Meth is attractive to men because it can produce a prolonged erection, especially when compared to cocaine. However, long-term use can result in impotence, just like cocaine.