Investigators from UCLA had found that the there is a marked difference between the sensations generated by cocaine and methamphetamine use in onset, pattern and duration of their "highs".
The study shows that subjective, or self-reported, responses to cocaine peak and decline more rapidly than those of methamphetamine. Cardiovascular responses to the two stimulants are similar at onset but responses to cocaine decline more rapidly.
The study was published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.
Researchers said that these differences help explain patterns of use by addicts. Methamphetamine users, for instance, report using the drug daily throughout each day, while cocaine users typically engage in binges that occur most often in the evening.
In addition, the study results may impact development of medication treatments for addiction to these two very different stimulants.
The study examined the onset, pattern and duration of the response to cocaine in 14 cocaine dependent volunteers and the response to methamphetamine in 11 methamphetamine dependent volunteers. None of the volunteers were seeking treatment.
Study volunteers reported subjective effects using a sliding rating scale ranging from 0, or "no drug effect," to 100, "most drug effect ever." Ratings were obtained just prior to administration of the drug and at regular intervals for 30 minutes following administration.
Heart rate and blood pressures were assessed using an automated device just prior to administration of the drug and at regular intervals for 60 minutes following administration.