Trends in Primary Methamphetamine-Related Admissions to Youth Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities in Canada, 2005-2006 and 2009-2010

Article excerpt

Objective: During the last decade, methamphetamine use and issues surrounding its toxicity have triggered major concern in the Canadian government, leading to significant changes in drug policy and funding strategies to limit the societal impact of methamphetamine-related harms. This concern appears justified by research which found in 2005-2006 that 21% of all youth admissions to inpatient substance abuse treatment centres in Canada were due primarily to methamphetamine abuse. Given these patterns of treatment use and targeted governmental initiatives, an open question is whether the demand for methamphetamine treatment found in 2005-2006 has decreased. Our study aims to provide follow-up estimates of admissions for 2009-2010, as well as important trend information for these periods.

Method: We developed a comprehensive list of all Canadian residential youth substance abuse treatment facilities. The executive director of each facility was asked about the site's annual caseload, and the proportion of cases primarily due to methamphetamine abuse within the past 12 months.

Results: Our survey data for the periods of 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 show marked reductions in admissions. In 2009-2010, we found that about 6% of all admissions were due primarily to methamphetamine abuse, a substantial drop from the 21% reported in our 2005-2006 study.

Conclusions: Our data show a significant national reduction in methamphetamine-related admissions. Other reports show that methamphetamine-related treatment admissions in the United States and Mexico declined sharply during 2005-2008, reportedly in association with Mexico's methamphetamine precursor chemical controls, raising the possibility that the controls may also be associated with the declines reported here.

Can J Psychiatry. 2011;56(11):696-700.

Clinical Implications

* National addiction-treatment data can be useful for monitoring the impact of methamphetamine abuse on youth substance abuse treatment programs.

* Understanding the scope of methamphetamine-related harms at provincial and national levels can support the rational allocation of clinical resources for methamphetamine abuse problems.

* Trends in treatment admissions can help to inform the potential impacts of national and international drug policy interventions designed to limit methamphetamine-related harms.

Limitations

* Our study relied on estimates provided by executive directors, and the reported values may not match administrative records exactly.

* Time lag between problematic drug use and treatment entry means that results may not reflect current trends of adolescent methamphetamine use.

* Our data only represent adolescents entering inpatient substance abuse treatment centres and likely exclude those who are unable or unwilling to access inpatient treatment centres.

Key Words: methamphetamine, adolescents, substance abuse treatment, inpatient, Canada

During the last decade, methamphetamine use and issues surrounding its toxicity have triggered major concern at federal and provincial levels in the Canadian government. This concern appears to be justified by research in 2005-2006, which found that 21% of all youth admissions to inpatient substance abuse treatment centres were due primarily to methamphetamine abuse.1

With the goal of limiting problems related to methamphetamine, there have been major changes in Canadian drug policy legislation,2,3 as well as in provincial and federal targeted drug enforcement and funding strategies.4 Given these governmental initiatives, an open question is, Has the pronounced demand for methamphetamine treatment found in 2005-2006 decreased?

Our study assesses methamphetamine treatment demand among Canadian youth in 2009-2010, and contrasts it with our previous findings for 2005-2006.1 Our study is critical as it constitutes the sole source of information on national trends in methamphetamine treatment admissions among youth in Canada. …