“In particular, clinical and epidemiological reports suggest that women are more vulnerable to developing a methamphetamine use disorder. However, it is unclear what contributes to these different drug use trajectories. Here, we asked whether gender differences in response to methamphetamine exist early on, prior to the development of problematic use.”
In the study, 44 men and 29 women completed four sessions in which they received either placebo or methamphetamine (20 mg) under double-blind conditions.
About 30 minutes into each session, the participants completed a monetary incentive delay in which they had to respond quickly to a target in order to win or avoid losing money. The participants also completed assessments of mood and drug effects, and the researchers monitored their blood pressure and heart rate.
“We find that women are more sensitive to psychomotor-related effects of methamphetamine than men. In particular, women report feeling more ‘vigor’ and less ‘fatigue’ after taking the drug. Behaviorally, they also show faster reaction times in a reward-processing task,” Mayo told PsyPost.
“Together, we propose that this heightened sensitivity to the behavioral and subjective effects of methamphetamine in women may render them more likely to use the drug again, and perhaps escalate use over time. This supports clinical data showing that female methamphetamine users transition more quickly from recreational use to dependence than their male counterparts.”