Re-Analysis Finds Higher Rates of Crystal Meth Use
> 6/18/2007 10:42:39 AM

A new analysis of data collected in the 2002 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health reveals that abuse of crystal meth is significantly higher than previously reported. Of the 14,322 respondents aged 18-26 years, 2.8% reported using crystal meth in the previous year. This is disturbing because public policy has been based on lower numbers, and because this new analysis links meth use to a variety of risky behaviors.

The government was too quick to believe that its efforts had brought all drug use under control. Here is an example of the premature celebration displayed on the NIDA website:

When President Bush released his first National Drug Control Strategy in February, 2002, he set aggressive national goals to reduce youth drug use by 10 percent in two years and 25 percent in five years. Today's release of the 2003 Monitoring the Future Study confirms that President Bush's two-year goal has been exceeded.

Obviously, not all of the data in the Monitoring the Future study was thoroughly examined.

The new analysis went beyond usage numbers to create a valuable profile of the typical meth user. Whites used meth more than any minority group besides Native Americans. There was also a difference in geographic distribution- meth use was much rarer in the Northeast than the rest of the country. Meth users more frequently have an incarcerated father, but it is not clear whether it is the absence of a parent that causes abuse or some arrest-provoking quality of the father.

In addition to the demographic information above, many dangerous behaviors were also correlated to meth use. Rates of risky sexual behavior (sex for money, unprotected sex, etc.) and use of other drugs were all elevated, especially among female users. These associated risks, along with the severe health consequences of meth use discussed by Dr. William Hapworth, necessitate a strong response to the high numbers and a constant vigilance so that progress can be monitored.

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