Meth increases sexual desire in women

Sex withdrawal drives rats into drug addiction

Sex can be addicting, no question about it. The pleasure one experiences in intercourse drives some people to want to have sex all the time, over and over again. But that's not all: it can also make you more susceptible to other - chemical - intoxicants.

Rats that mate every day tend to crave amphetamines more than virgin rats during periods of abstinence. A team of scientists led by Lauren Beloate from the University of Mississippi in Jackson, USA, has now found out what causes this phenomenon. They published their results in the "Journal of Neuroscience".

Amphetamines as a substitute drug

According to the researchers, sex and amphetamines act on the same areas in the brain, namely the so-called area tegmentalis ventralis. This group of nerve cells produces the neurotransmitter dopamine and is part of the brain's natural reward system.

For scientists like Beloate and her colleagues, sex is nothing more than a natural reward: it makes us feel good, and consequently we want to repeat the activity often. Drugs also work on the brain's reward system - that's why they're addicting so quickly.

In contrast to sex, amphetamines can be packed in the test tube

"Sexual experience followed by a period of abstinence increases the reward value of amphetamines in male rats," writes Beloate's team. In short, having sex every day changed the rats' brains and made them more susceptible to intoxicants.

Sexually experienced rats became dependent on amphetamines more quickly and even at lower doses than their virgin counterparts. Scientists speak of "higher vulnerability"; the drug had a greater effect on these animals.

In the animal experiments, five days of sex in a row and a seven-day break were enough to trigger the changes in the brain.

Also works the other way around

According to their own reports, crystal meth addicts experience greater pleasure during intercourse and are more likely to be drawn into unprotected sex due to loss of control. This is also probably due to the fact that the active ingredient methamphetamine affects the brain in the same way as sex.

In previous animal studies, scientists found that regular doses of methamphetamine resulted in "compulsive sexual behaviors" during drug withdrawal. So sex acted as a substitute drug for the animals. However, the researchers only observed this effect if the sexual intercourse always took place at the same time as the drug administration.

Very high doses of crystal meth, on the other hand, made the rats extremely lazy.