Why Is Methamphetamine So Addictive?

What Is Methamphetamine?


Methamphetamine is a man-made central nervous system stimulant that is usually smoked or snorted by the user. It is manufactured in laboratories using household items such as pseudoaphedrine and acetone from paint thinner, and usually looks like white rock or glass. Street names for methamphetamine include ice, chalk, ice, crystal, among many others.

Methamphetamine is closely related to amphetamine salts found in prescription drugs like Adderall, prescribed for ADHD. While the link between ADHD medication and methamphetamine addiction has not been closely studied, the risk for addiction is high for both forms of the drug.

Why Is Methamphetamine Addictive?

Methamphetamine is regarded to be at least as addictive as heroin, and studies show that it triggers dependency faster than most drugs available on the black market. When exposed to methamphetamine, the brain starts producing ten times the amount of normal dopamine, the chemical in the brain the causes one to feel pleasure. It also forces a rush of adrenaline in the body, making the user feel a rush of euphoria.


According toJim Peck, a clinical psychologist and researcher at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience, people often become addicted to methamphetamine after “just one or two uses.” and this mostly comes down to the level of dopamine that the brain releases when exposed to the drug.

This is how it works. Dopamine effects the limbic system, the structures in the brain that are responsible for learning, emotion, and memory. The first time someone decides to use methamphetamine, it is a decision that comes from the prefrontal cortex in the brain – the part that is responsible for conscious decision making. However, after using the drug a few times, the decision to use methamphetamine shifts from the front part of the brain, to the back – the part of the brain responsible for involuntary functions like breathing. This is why many methamphetamine user’s describe their reason for using methamphetamine as recreational in the beginning, quickly escalating to a constant necessity.


How Many People Die Of Heroin Overdoes Each Year?

Accord to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), psychostimulants such as methamphetamine were responsible for approximately 10,000 overdose deaths in 2015, and the percentage of overall overdose deaths involved methamphetamine has jumped from 5% in 2010 to 11% in 2015.