Although prior studies have monitored the trends in methamphetamine use and reported its increase over the years, few studies have considered how community-level characteristics affect the use of methamphetamine. In this study, we utilize data from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program from two cities to examine how individual-level, community-level, and drug market factors influence methamphetamine use. Results indicate that both individual and community-level data significantly influence methamphetamine use. Also, findings show that predictors of methamphetamine use (at the individual and community-level) differ significantly from marijuana, cocaine, and opiate use. Policy implications regarding law enforcement suppression and the treatment of methamphetamine users are discussed.
Prior to the 1990s, the methamphetamine problem in the United States was small and restricted to a few southwestern states. However, in recent years criminal justice, treatment, and public health officials have made numerous claims that methamphetamine use has increased dramatically - and several drug use indicators have confirmed their claims. First, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which samples the general population, estimated that in 2000 about 8.8 million people had tried methamphetamine, compared to 1994 when only 1.8 million people were estimated to have tried the drug (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], 2003). Second, reports from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which collects data on drug-related episodes from hospital emergency rooms in 21 metropolitan areas, have indicated that methamphetamine episodes increased 43% between 1999 and 2001 (Kissin & Ball, 2002). Third, results from the Monitoring the Future Program, which surveys 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, reported that methamphetamine use has doubled in the last decade. About 3% of high school students reported having used methamphetamines in 1991 (Pennell, Ellett, Rienick, & Grimes, 1999), compared to roughly 6% in 2002 (Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 2003). Last, data obtained from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program showed that methamphetamine use increased significantly in the 1990s among arrestees, particularly in the Southwest (Pennell et al., 1999).
In response, federal policymakers enacted several new statutes to more severely sanction methamphetamine manufacturers and users and provided funding aimed at curtailing the use, sale, and manufacture of methamphetamine. For example, the Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 doubled the federal penalty for possession of methamphetamines and increased the maximum prison sentence for possession of equipment used to manufacture methamphetamine from four to 10 years (Wermuth, 2000, p. 428). In 1998, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) allocated about $4.5 million to six communities with methamphetamine problems to facilitate partnerships between police and community agencies for the purpose of reducing and controlling methamphetamine use (McEwen & Uchida, 2000). Similarly, local community and criminal justice agencies engaged in numerous activities to combat methamphetamine problems. For instance, metropolitan and county task forces were established to suppress methamphetamine use, sales, and production. County prosecutor's offices created special programs to facilitate the prosecution of those involved in the methamphetamine trade. Community agencies, along with the National Guard, began to implement training programs focusing on the identification of methamphetamine labs and clean-up requirements, and school districts began to implement anti-methamphetamine curriculum programs to prevent youth from using methamphetamine (McEwen & Uchida, 2000).
Due to the heightened concern regarding methamphetamine use, researchers from various disciplines have conducted studies to improve the overall …