Cocaine and Methamphetamine


What Are Methamphetamine and Cocaine

Methamphetamine and cocaine belong to the broad class of drugs called psychostimulants which also includes amphetamine and methylphenidate. The two drugs are often compared to each other because they produce similar mood-altering effects and have a high potential for abuse and dependence. Methamphetamine is man-made while cocaine is plant-derived. Common nicknames for methamphetamine include “meth”, “ice”, “crystal”, “tina”, “p”, “glass”, or “speed”, but this term is usually used for regular amphetamine or dextroamphetamine.

Short-term Effects

The immediate effects of both drugs can include irritability, anxiety; increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and possible death. Short-term effects can also include increased activity, respiration, wakefulness, and decreased appetite. Both contribute to transmission of HIV/AIDS through intravenous injection and high-risk sexual behaviors in “sex-for-crack” exchanges.

  • Larger (toxic) amounts of meth or cocaine can lead to bazaar / paranoid behavior, wild rages and possible hallucinations. Over-dosing can cause severe convulsions followed by cardiovascular and respiratory collapse, coma and death.

Long-term Effects

Effects of chronic abuse can include disturbances in heart rhythm, chest pain, headaches, malnourishment, heart attack, and possible stroke. These strokes involve sudden dramatic reductions in blood flow to areas of the brain, resulting in neurological symptoms, such as paralysis, loss of speech, and dementia. Chronic abuse also can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, violence, and financial and legal complications. Dependence, drug craving, paranoia, and depression can occur in addicted individuals who try to stop using either methamphetamine or cocaine.

  • Long-term effects of methamphetamine use include tolerance to the pleasurable effects of the drug, violent / aggressive behavior, insomnia, memory loss, dental problems (meth mouth), psychological dependenc, and addiction.

Methods of Use

Both methamphetamine and cocaine are commonly smoked, injected intravenously, or snorted. The slang terms for these routes are, respectively, “chewing,” “snorting,” “mainlining,” “injecting,” and “smoking” (including freebase and crack cocaine).

When they are smoked or injected intravenously, both methamphetamine and cocaine produce an intense, extremely pleasurable “rush” almost immediately, followed by euphoria, referred to as a “high.” When snorted, they produce the high without the intense rush and the effects can be felt 3-5 minutes after ingestion. In both cases the pleasurable effects begin to disappear before the drug is fully metabolized, prompting some users to take more in order to maintain the high. Methamphetamine’s high lasts anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, and 50 percent of the drug is removed from the body in 12 hours. Cocaine’s high lasts anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, and 50 percent of the drug is removed from the body in 1 hour. Obviously there are risks involved with over-use of any drug (see below), but no high lasts forever; the longer the binge, the harder the crash.

Methamphetamine also is commonly ingested orally. Some users combine cocaine powder or crack with heroin in a “speedball.” There is no safe way to use cocaine (other than under medical supervision). Any route of administration can lead to absorption of toxic amounts of cocaine, leading to acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies that could result in sudden death.

Mixing Alcohol and Cocaine

Alcohol may be used to counteract anxiety and tweaking effects of cocaine. Potentially very dangerous because alcohol also elevates blood pressure, increasing risk for heart attack and stroke|

Trends Among College Students

Cocaine, a highly addictive stimulant drug, is on the rise on college campuses nationwide. In 1993, 2.7% of students surveyed by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University reported using cocaine during the previous year. This was followed by a 3% increase with 5.7% of students reporting cocaine use in 2005.

To get more information
The National Institute on Drug Abuse