Recreational Drug Methamphetamine Overdose Deaths Rise Sharply

by Colleen Fleiss on Jan 21 2021 11:12 PM

Recreational Drug Methamphetamine Overdose Deaths Rise Sharply
In the United States, methamphetamine overdose deaths surged in eight years, according to a study published today in JAMA Psychiatry.
The research was conducted at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

From 2011-2018, methamphetamine deaths more than quadrupled among non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives. The study findings highlight the urgent need to develop culturally tailored, gender-specific prevention and treatment strategies for methamphetamine use disorder.

Long-term decreased access to education, high poverty rates, and discrimination in health services delivery are among factors that contribute to health disparities for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

"While much attention is focused on the opioid crisis, a methamphetamine crisis has been quietly, but actively, gaining steam--particularly among American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are disproportionately affected by a number of health conditions," said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., NIDA director and a senior author of the study.

Leveraging traditions such as talking circles may offer a unique and culturally resonant way to prevent drug use among young people. Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native women had higher rates than non-Hispanic Black, Asian, or Hispanic men during 2012-2018.

Methamphetamine Use Disorder Treatment

Methamphetamine use is associated with a range of serious health risks, including overdose deaths. There are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating methamphetamine use disorder or reversing overdoses.

Behavioral therapies such as contingency management therapy can effectively reduce the harms associated with the use of methamphetamine.

A recent clinical trial reported significant therapeutic benefits with naltrexone with bupropion in patients with methamphetamine use disorders.

NIDA investigators led by Beth Han, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., obtained data used in the analysis from the 2011-2018 Multiple Cause-of-Death records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Vital Statistics System, the nation's most complete database of births and deaths.

Most people who use methamphetamine are between 25 and 54 years old. Deaths involving methamphetamines rose from 1.8 to 10.1 per 100,000 men, and from 0.8 to 4.5 per 100,000 women. The figures represent a more than five-fold increase from 2011 to 2018.

"Identifying populations that have a higher rate of methamphetamine overdose is a crucial step toward curbing the underlying methamphetamine crisis," said Dr. Han.