Meth and Depression

What is the Connection?

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Methamphetamine is a well-known stimulant, notorious for its potent effects on the brain. But can it lead to depression? And can a depressed person turn to meth to seek relief? This article will explore the link between meth and depression and explain why meth abuse and depression together create a never-ending cycle.

What is Meth?

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a potent and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.

Due to its addictive properties, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This classification means that it is only available through a non-refillable prescription.

Methamphetamine has two medically accepted uses, including for treating attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and obesity.

Can Meth Cause Depression?

There are several ways how meth can lead to depression.

Due to its addictive properties, it is easy to develop an addiction to the drug. As a result, a range of withdrawal symptoms can occur when attempting to stop taking the drug. Studies have found that depressive and psychotic symptoms accompany acute withdrawal from methamphetamine but resolve within a week.1

Moreover, meth is such a potent drug that can alter brain chemistry, destroying the brain cell synapses where dopamine is released. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that is strongly associated with how people experience pleasure and reward.

As prolonged meth use depletes the brain’s dopamine levels and activity, anhedonia can develop, or an impaired ability to experience pleasure.2 Depression is also listed as one of the long-term psychological effects of meth use.

Is Crystal Meth Different from Meth?

The major difference between crystal meth and standard meth is in its strength and purity.

Crystal meth is the purest and most potent form of meth that is typically developed in what is known as “super labs.” Its potency, crystal meth is highly addictive and creates a long-lasting high that can last up to 24 hours after use. Generally, crystal meth is taken by being snorted or smoked.

On the other hand, standard meth is a form of methamphetamine that has an accepted medical use. It is sometimes prescribed conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity.

What is Shake and Bake Meth?

Shake and bake meth is a way methamphetamine is manufactured. Also known as the “one-pot” method, it involves producing meth in a two-liter soda bottle. A few cold pills are mixed with common household chemicals, making enough meth for a few hits.

Although it is faster and cheaper, it is also a more hazardous method of producing meth than in-lab. The chemical reaction inside the bottle can lead to an explosion if the cap is loosened too quickly or if any oxygen gets inside of it.

According to 2017 data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 81% of meth lab incidents involve small, personal labs that often use the shake and bake method.3

Why Might a Person Turn to Meth When Depressed?

It is often the euphoric rush that causes some people to turn to meth. Meth use releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. The pleasurable effects the intense high meth produces can motivate some to repeat the experience.

However, chronic use of meth can have a severe impact on the brain’s chemistry. Dopamine levels can become severely depleted in the brain, leading to an impaired ability to experience pleasure in the long-term.

How Could Meth Make a Depressed Person Feel Better?

The rush of dopamine produced by the drug can make a depressed person feel more energetic and euphoric. The rush of dopamine produced by meth is much higher than the natural amount of dopamine the brain produces, but this can result in further issues when used as a substitute for anti-depressants.

Accompanying effects of meth use also include increased activity, talkativeness, and a pleasurable sense of well-being. Though it may affect some minor symptoms, meth cannot treat depression in the long-term.

Can You Become Addicted to Meth?

Long-term abuse of meth can easily develop into an addiction. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), around 1.6 million people reported using methamphetamine.4 That is 0.6% of the U.S. population.

Meth addiction can result in compulsive drug-seeking, as well as functional and molecular changes in the brain.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Currently, the most effective treatments for meth addiction are behavioral therapies.

The Matrix Model is one example of behavioral therapy used to treat meth addiction. The Matrix Model is a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment program that combines behavioral therapy, family education, 12-step support, and individual counseling. The model is highly effective in helping patients overcome their addiction.

This information should not replace a visit to a doctor or treatment center. If you are concerned that you or a loved one might be suffering from methamphetamine addiction, ask for professional help today.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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