Association between Psychiatric Symptoms and Craving in Methamphetamine Users

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This study examined the differences in psychiatric symptoms between adult methamphetamine users (n = 46) and control subjects (n = 31), the relationship between psychiatric symptoms and the intensity of methamphetamine craving, and whether psychiatric symptoms were correlated to methamphetamine drug-usage variables (ie, length of abstinence, frequency, duration, and lifetime grams). We found that depressive symptoms on the Center for Epidemiology Studies-Depression (CES-D) and many other psychiatric symptoms on the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) significantly correlated with craving methamphetamine on the visual analog scale (VAS) for craving. Methamphetamine users had significantly more depressive symptoms (on CES-D) and psychotic symptoms (on SCL-90) compared to controls. There were no significant correlations between psychiatric symptoms and methamphetamine-usage variables. This study provides the first evidence to suggest that depressive symptoms (on CES-D) and psychiatric symptoms (on SCL-90) are strongly associated with the intensity of craving (on VAS) for the drug in methamphetamine users. However, the methamphetamine usage variables had no relationship with psychiatric symptoms. Therefore, methamphetamine users, regardless of their usage patterns, may benefit from treatment of their psychiatric symptoms in order to minimize craving and subsequent relapse to drug use.

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