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Methamphetamine Use: Lessons Learned

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2006
73 pages
This report reviews the problem of methamphetamine in the United States.
Methamphetamine is one of the most poorly understood drugs of abuse in the United States, perhaps due to it entirely synthetic nature and its lower national profile compared to marijuana and cocaine. This overview of methamphetamine includes a review of the history of the methamphetamine problem, trends in its use, characteristics of users, adverse effects, production and trafficking, and treatment. The analysis involved a literature review of the extant knowledge on methamphetamine, a review of the existing datasets relevant to methamphetamine, and interviews with law enforcement and government personnel. Trend analysis of methamphetamine use in the United States shows a steady growth in its use during the 1990s throughout the West and Midwest, growing from 2 percent population use in 1994 to 5 percent population use in 2004. Methamphetamine users encompass both genders nearly equally and tend to be White individuals in their 20s and 30s. The drug itself is synthesized from precursor chemicals, many of which are unregulated, and can be made by nearly anyone with high school chemistry experience. Trafficking ranges from hand-to-hand distribution in small and newly established markets to organized networks of distribution in larger high demand markets. Protracted physiological and psychological problems caused by methamphetamine’s impact on neural pathways renders methamphetamine users some of the most difficult drug treatment patients. Standard pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine treatment has yet to be finalized. Tables, figures, bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 2006