Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Methamphetamine Use in U.S. Continues Slide

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Methamphetamine Use in U.S. Continues Slide

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON--The past-month methamphetamine use dipped sharply from 529,000 in 2007 to 314,000 in 2008 in people aged 12 years and older, according to data from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

That represents a decline of past-month meth use by almost half since 2006, when that number was 731,000.

One possible reason for the decrease could be the effect of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA), which was enacted in 2006 to regulate sales of over-the-counter medications that could be used in manufacturing methamphetamine, said Dr. Carl C. Bell, director of public and community psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Under the CMEA, the medications were taken off the shelf, certain limits placed on their purchase, customer ID was required, and sales were tracked--making it easier to find methamphetamine labs and close them down, said Dr. Bell, also with Community Mental Health Council Inc. and the Institute for the Prevention of Violence, both in Chicago.

However, Lloyd Johnston, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future study, which tracks drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, said in an interview that he and his colleagues have been reporting a steady drop in methamphetamine use in that population since they started monitoring it in 1999 when past-year use was 4.1%, compared with 1.3% in 2008.

"The drop in meth use among teens and young adults has been occurring since the turn of the decade," said Dr. Johnston, who is also a professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor. "We don't have the relevant perceived risk measure for meth, but I think that the tremendous amount of bad publicity that meth use and local meth production received in earlier years led young people to see it as more dangerous and less glamorous than they had previously."

The NSDUH study found that misuse of prescription drugs also decreased significantly between 2007 and 2008 among individuals aged 12 years and over--including adolescents--and that there has been progress in containing other types of illicit drug use, though the data showed that the overall national past-month users of illicit drugs has remained level at about 20 million (8%) since 2002. (Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine/crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and prescription psychotropics that are used nonmedically.)

"We are seeing the benefits of a public effort that accepts that addiction is treatable and therapy works," said Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., the acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMH-SA), which sponsored the study and presented the report at a press conference. "It's important to get [our] message out."

Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug, though again, 2008 levels of use remained steady compared with the previous year. The drug was used by 15.2 million or just under 75.7% of current illicit drug users, and 57.3% of all users used only marijuana.

In the 12- to 17-year-old group, 9.3% used illicit drugs, of whom 6.7% used marijuana (8% in 2007) and 2.9% used nonmedical prescription drugs. The remainder used inhalants and hallucinogens (1% each) and cocaine (0.4%).

Within this group, types of drugs used in the previous month varied by age: in the 12- to 13-year group, 1.5% had used prescription drugs nonmedically and 1% had used marijuana; in the 14- to 15-year group, almost 5.7% had used marijuana and 3.0% nonmedical prescription drugs; and among 16- to 17-year-olds, 12.7% had used marijuana and 4.0% hallucinogens.

Overall illicit drug use and use of specific drugs in this group held steady between 2007 and 2008, though there was an increase in the past-month rate of hallucinogen use (1.0% in 2008 vs. 0.7% in 2007) because of an increase in Ecstasy use (0.3% in 2007 vs. 0.4% in 2008), and a decline in the nonmedical use of prescription drugs (2. …

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