The results of a recent study investigating amphetamines and mental health suggest that amphetamine use and amphetamine use disorder are associated with higher odds of psychosis.
Amphetamines have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and are typically taken to produce increased energy, elevated mood, and greater capacity for concentration. The various forms of amphetamines include methamphetamine, crystal-methamphetamine, and ecstasy (MDMA).
In a recent review published in The Lancet, researchers collected data from previous human studies on the use of amphetamines and its association with mental health outcomes. A total of 59 studies were selected, which were based on the specific mental health outcomes associated with amphetamine use. These outcomes included psychosis, violence, suicidality, and depression. Psychosis included delusions, hallucinations, and psychotic disorders, and suicidality included ideations and the number of attempts and number of completed suicides. The data collected from the studies were then measured and presented as an odds ratio, which quantifies the strength of an association between two events, in this case being the use of amphetamines and the specific mental health outcome.
The study found that the use of amphetamines was associated with 2.0 times the odds of psychosis, and that amphetamine use disorder was associated with 3.0 times the odds of psychosis and with an increased risk for schizophrenia, in comparison to the general population. The study also reported that any use of amphetamines was associated with 1.4 times the odds of violence. The use of amphetamines was associated with 1.4 times the odds of suicidality and amphetamine use disorder was associated with 1.5 times the odds of suicidality. In regards to suicide attempts specifically, there was a 3.6 – fold odds of making a suicide attempt amongst those who used amphetamines. In addition to this, in those who have amphetamine use disorder, there was a 2.2- fold odds of suicide ideation. Amphetamine use was associated with 1.3 times the odds of depression and if was found that the use of amphetamines during adolescence increased the odds of depressive symptoms. In addition, a reduction in depression amongst drug treatment entrants occurred in those who had stopped using amphetamines prior to discharge, in relation to those who did not.
Overall, it can be suggested that amphetamine use and amphetamine use disorder are associated with higher odds of psychosis, which comprises of hallucinations, delusions, and psychotic disorders, with increased odds for suicidality. As the values given above were adjusted for demographics, other substance use and premorbid risk, it can be suggested that when combined with other drug use, previous health issues and social factors, these odds can be greater than what was reported. As such, the use of amphetamines has the potential to lead to the development of mental health issues and will continue to be a public health concern.
Written by P. Sukumar
- Leung, J., et al. (2019). THE LANCET. Mental health outcomes associated with the use of amphetamines: A Systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Edwards, C., et al. (2019). Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine. 17th London, England: Pearson Professional Limited, 1996.
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