Methamphetamine Versus Cocaine

Meth and cocaine share similar stimulating effects because they provoke excessive dopamine to collect in the brain. However, meth stays in the body longer than cocaine. This results in a longer lasting high for meth, but means that meth has more time to damage neurons in the brain as well.

Methamphetamine

Cocaine

• man-made

• plant-derived

• smoking produces a high that lasts 8 to 24 hours

• smoking produces a high that lasts 20 to 30 minutes

• 50% of the drug is removed from the body in 12 hours

• 50% of the drug is removed from the body in 1 hour

• limited medical use

• used as a local anesthetic in some surgical procedures

Methamphetamine users experience higher levels of dopamine in their brains, but when methamphetamine use is stopped, they often experience a decrease below normal levels. © Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory

Many receptors for the neurotransmitter norepinephrine are found in a small section of the brain stem called the locus coeruleus, a part of the brain that integrates sensory messages from the eyes, ears, and other sense organs. Common reactions to norepinephrine release in the body are increased heart rate and body temperature. Amazingly, this part of the brain has only a few thousand nerve cells, but is connected to about a third of the entire brain. The persistent lack of appetite resulting from a meth high is probably due to the release of this neurotransmitter in the hypothalamus "satiety" section of the brain. This would communicate to the brain that it is satisfied and does not need any food to sustain it. Meth users are often described as looking emaciated and skeletal; this constant release of norepinephrine can lead to anorexia.9 As a result, some teens use meth to lose weight. This is more common with teenage girls.

Continue reading here: Short- Term Effects of Crystal Methamphetamine

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