No. Addiction cannot develop after only a single use of any drug.
According to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, one can only meet criteria for a substance use disorder if they repeatedly use a substance despite harmful negative consequences and being unable to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. This only occurs after a pattern of use over time.
It should be noted that the majority of people who use methamphetamine will not develop an addiction to it. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 14.9 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 have used methamphetamine in their lifetime and a minority of them – 1.1 million – met criteria for a methamphetamine use disorder in 2018.
The availability of methamphetamine varies across the country, so that rates of use and addiction vary as well. Data from the 2017 Treatment Episode Set (TEDS) show that treatment admissions for methamphetamine as the primary substance of use were less than 1% in areas east of the Mississippi River, but ranged from 12-29% in the sites west of the Mississippi.
There is no single specific factor or cause for addiction, but we do know that there are some factors that place some people at greater risk of developing an addiction, including:
- Family history of addiction or mental illness
- Emotional, physical, or sexual trauma history
- Untreated depression or other mental disorder
All methamphetamine usage, whether casual or in the context of addiction, is highly stigmatized. Stigma of methamphetamine use prevents people from seeking treatment if they would like to change their usage. People who use methamphetamine that are also members of marginalized groups, such as sex workers or queer men, have this stigma compounded with other stigmas. These compounded stigmas can further intersect with issues such as poverty and unemployment, thus preventing treatment access.
People who are homeless may use methamphetamine as a “survival drug,” especially those who are more at risk for violence (i.e., women, youths, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.), in order to stay awake for longer periods of time, or to stay warm when the temperature drops.