Crystal Meth Youth Use Tops Estimates
Use of Crystal Methamphetamine by U.S. Young Adults Exceeds Expectations
WebMD News Archive
June 15, 2007 -- Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) appears to be more
widely used by young adults in the U.S. than previously thought.
A study released today shows that nearly 3% of U.S. young adults say they
have used crystal meth in the previous year; the study was conducted in
That's higher than a previous estimate from the National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA) that 1.5% of young adults per year used crystal meth.
The new crystal meth study, published in the journal Addiction, is
based on confidential interviews with more than 14,000 young adults
Participants were 18-26 years old when they were interviewed in 2001-2002.
They were asked about their backgrounds, including their crystal meth use in
the previous month and year.
Crystal Meth Use
About half as many young adults reported using crystal meth in the previous
month, compared with the previous year.
"Crystal methamphetamine use was reported by a very small percentage of
the overall young adult U.S. population, most of whom were occasional rather
than frequent users," write Bonita Iritani, MA, MSS, and colleagues.
Iritani works in Chapel Hill, N.C., at the Pacific Institute for Research
She and her fellow researchers caution that "even occasional use is
associated with multiple health and social risks." For instance, the study
suggests that women who use crystal meth may be more likely to engage in risky
sex, including not using condoms.
The study also shows that crystal meth (also called ice, crystal, glass,
meth, or tina) was most commonly used by whites and Native Americans, men,
residents of western or southern states, novelty seekers, men whose biological
father had ever been in jail, and users of marijuana, cocaine, and IV
That's not to say that every crystal meth user fits that description. The
survey yielded general findings, not a precise portrait of all crystal meth
In the journal Addiction, the new study is accompanied by an
editorial from experts including Richard Rawson, PhD, of the University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Rawson is a UCLA professor of psychiatry and the associate director of
UCLA's Integrated Substance Abuse Programs.
The editorial states that in many parts of the world, methamphetamine use by
adolescents "appears to be a significant public health problem," but
that "in the United States, federal government statistics minimize the
"There is extensive evidence demonstrating [methamphetamine's] toxicity
on the adult human brain when used at high doses over extended periods of
time," write the editorialists, who voice concern about meth's effects on
the still-developing adolescent brain.
Young women may be particularly vulnerable to developing meth-related
problems, according to the editorialists. They point out that in young women,
meth use is associated with elevated levels of depression and suicidal
High-risk sexual behaviors are also linked to meth use, which may increase
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV and hepatitis, note Rawson