Crystal methamphetamine use may be more common than previously thought,
according to new data from a nationally representative survey of adolescents
Although overall usage rates show that only a small segment of the
population is using the drug, its use is associated with a range of risky
behaviors, according to new findings from the Pacific Institute for Research
and Evaluation in Chapel Hill, N.C.
About 2.8 percent of a sample of more than 14,000 young adults reported
using the drug during the preceding year, and 1.3 percent reported using it
during the preceding month. The data appear in the July issue of
Among those who reported past month use, 37 percent used the drug once, 31
percent used it two to three times, and 32 percent used it four or more
The data were derived from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health, which was conducted in waves beginning in 1994 and 1995 among more
than 19,000 seventh- to ninth-grade students from a nationally representative
sample of more than 80 high schools and 52 middle schools.
Researchers obtained the data on crystal methamphetamine use in a
subsequent wave of the study when the original respondents were 18 to 26 years
old in 2001 and 2002. Respondents answered the survey questions on
Other studies have detected lower rates of use among young adults. For
instance, annual prevalence rate of crystal methamphetamine use found in the
2004 Monitoring the Future Survey was just 1.5 percent among young adults aged
19 to 28.
"This study not only showed greater use of crystal methamphetamine,
it also suggests the drug is associated with risky and antisocial behaviors,
including other illicit drug use," said National Institute on Drug Abuse
Director Nora Volkow, M.D., in a press release.
Prior-year crystal methamphetamine use was associated with a 4.7 higher
odds of ever having been arrested, for instance, and three times higher odds
of behaving violently during the preceding year.
Those who used the drug also had 2.6 percent higher odds of inconsistent or
no condom use than those who reported not using crystal methamphetamine.
When researchers analyzed some of the findings by gender, they noticed that
men who had a father who was incarcerated were more than twice as likely to
report prior-year crystal methamphetamine use than were those without
The results also showed that odds of prior-year use for Native Americans
were 4.2 times higher than for whites.
Hispanics were slightly less likely than whites to use the drugs, while
blacks were about half as likely as whites to use it, the data showed.
"We now have more detailed information about the characteristics of
crystal meth users," lead author Bonita Iritani, M.A., told
Psychiatric News. Iritani is an associate research scientist at the
She commented that further research is necessary to confirm her findings
and elicit additional information about those who use the drug: for instance,
the relationships between crystal methamphetamine use and antisocial behavior,
predictors of use, and elevated rates of use among Native Americans.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study.
An abstract of the study "Crystal Methamphetamine Use in the
USA" is posted at<www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/add/102/7>.▪