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Meth Addiction Increased Sharply in 2004

Rates of Use Remain Level, Survey Says


Updated September 26, 2005

Updated September 26, 2005
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released data showing that the prevalence of methamphetamine use in 2004 was similar to the number of users in the prior two years. But, the new 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also showed that the number of past month methamphetamine users who met criteria for illicit drug dependence or abuse in the past 12 months increased sharply.

In 2004, 1.4 million persons ages 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population) used methamphetamine in the past year and 600,000 (0.2 percent) used in the past month. These numbers are similar to numbers in 2002 and 2003.

However, the number of past month methamphetamine users who met criteria for illicit drug dependence or abuse in the past 12 months increased from 164,000 (27.5 percent of past month methamphetamine users in 2002 to 346,000 (59.3 percent) in 2004. Of these 130,000 (22.3 percent) had stimulants, primarily methamphetamine, as their primary substance of abuse in 2004.

"Methamphetamine is undeniably a uniquely destructive drug," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "While rates of use have remained relatively stable over the past few years, these new findings show that an increasing proportion of methamphetamine users are developing problems of drug abuse and dependence and are in need of treatment." The survey questions ask about both illicit methamphetamine, as well as prescription methamphetamine used nonmedically. Dependence or abuse is defined using criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) used by psychiatrists for their diagnoses.

318,000 New Meth Users

Information on symptoms of dependence and abuse is collected for alcohol and a number of specific illicit drug categories, including stimulants, but not exclusively methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is the most frequently reported stimulant used.

The survey found that in 2004 there were an estimated 318,000 new initiates to methamphetamine use, defined as having used it for the first time in the 12 months prior to the survey. This is approximately the same number of new users in 2002 and 2003.

Western States Highest in Meth Use

The data ranked 12 states in the West, including Nevada, Wyoming and Montana, among states with the highest past year use of methamphetamine. Connecticut, New York and North Carolina were among the states with the lowest rates. The rate of use was higher in counties in small metropolitan areas and counties not in metropolitan areas than in counties in large metropolitan areas.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual survey of close to 70,000 people. The survey collects information from residents of households, residents of non-institutionalized group quarters and civilians living on military bases.

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