Methamphetamine Abuse and Impairment of Social Functioning: A Review of the Underlying Neurophysiological Causes and Behavioral Implications

Bruce D. Homer, Todd M. Solomon, Robert W. Moeller, Amy Mascia, Lauren DeRaleau, Perry N. Halkitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations

Abstract

The highly addictive drug methamphetamine has been associated with impairments in social cognitions as evidenced by changes in users' behaviors. Physiological changes in brain structure and functioning, particularly in the frontal lobe, have also been identified. The authors propose a biopsychosocial approach to understanding the effects of methamphetamine addiction by relating the physiological effects of the drug to the behaviors and social cognitions of its users, through the application of the theory of mind paradigm. Although onset of methamphetamine use has been linked to the desire for socialization, chronic use has been associated with an increase in depression, aggressiveness, and social isolation, behaviors that also implicate involvement of the frontal lobe. The reviewed literature provides strong circumstantial evidence that social-cognitive functioning is significantly impacted by methamphetamine use and that the social isolation, depression, and aggressiveness associated with chronic use is due to more than just the social withdrawal associated with addiction. Treatment considerations for methamphetamine must therefore consider the role of social cognition, and pharmacological responses must address the documented impact of the drug on frontal lobe functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume134
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

Keywords

  • addiction
  • brain function
  • methamphetamine
  • social cognition
  • theory of mind

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