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Article Summary

Meth Abuse Increases in Midwest and South

Big increase seen on east coast also drug abuse-related emergency room visits involving amphetamine/ methamphetamine increased 54 percent between 1995 and 2002, with significant increases in several metropolitan areas in the Northeast, Midwest and the South, according to a new report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Emergency Room Visits

The DAWN Report on "Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Emergency Department Visits, 2002" is based on data from SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

The report found almost 39,000 drug-abuse related emergency room visits involving amphetamines or methamphetamine, with sharp increases recorded between 1999 and 2002. The report combines amphetamine and methamphetamine because some standard drug screens do not differentiate between amphetamines and methamphetamine, and many hospitals list all these substances under the generic term amphetamine.

"The abuse of methamphetamine is not only a regional problem but a serious and growing national public health problem," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie noted.

"SAMHSA's substance abuse treatment data also indicate that admissions for methamphetamine treatment increased substantially in the Midwest and in the South. SAMHSA will work with local governments and other entities to get the word out that methamphetamine is a dangerous, addictive and devastating drug."
Highest Rates Still in the West
The data show a 573.8 percent increase in amphetamine/ methamphetamine emergency-room visits in Newark, rising from one visit per 100,000 population in 1995 to 9 per 100,000 population in 2002. Baltimore increased 500.5 percent, from 2 visits per 100,000 in 1995 to 10 per 100,000 population in 2002.
In the Midwest, St. Louis showed a 282.6 percent increase from 6 visits per 100,000 population in 1995 to 24 visits per 100,000 in 2002. Minneapolis had a 270.1 percent increase in rates, from 5 per 100,000 population in 1995 to 19 per 100,000 population in 2002. In the South, New Orleans increased from 3 visits per 100,000 population in 1995 to 16 per 100,000 in 2002, an increase of 506.9 percent.

The highest rates per 100,000 population are still in the West, although the hospital emergency room data show that amphetamine/methamphetamine abuse is clearly no longer confined to the West.

Nationally, from 1995 to 2002, drug abuse-related amphetamine/ methamphetamine emergency departments visits increased 54 percent from 25,245 to 38,961. Visits involving patients age 6 to 17 increased 88 percent (from 2,338 to 4,394) and the number for patients 35 and older more than doubled (from 6,199 to 12,746). Patients age 35 and older made up 25 percent of amphetamine/methamphetamine visits in 1995, but increased to 33 percent in 2002. Patients age 18 to 34 constituted 56 percent of amphetamine/methamphetamine-related emergency room visits in 2002.

Female Meth Abuse Rising

Emergency room visits involving females who have used methamphetamine or amphetamines have been rising, accounting for 40 percent of visits in 2002, an increase from 37 percent in 1995. The majority of patients are still male (58 percent). In addition, amphetamine/methamphetamine visits most frequently involved white patients (65 percent), an increase of 57 percent since 1995. Hispanic patients make up the second most prevalent racial/ethnic group with 11 percent of amphetamine/ methamphetamine-related visits, while black patients made up 6 percent. More than 60 percent of the amphetamines/methamphetamine visits also involved other drugs. Marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine were the most frequent substances reported in combination with these drugs.

DAWN measures mentions of specific illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are linked to drug abuse in visits to hospital emergency departments.

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