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Women, Whites and Young People More Likely to Abuse Meth, Prescription Drugs

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A study of addiction-treatment admissions finds that the profile of people addicted to methamphetamine and prescription narcotics differs from those who use non-stimulant drugs, Medical News Today reported March 31.

People admitted to treatment for addiction to stimulant drugs are more likely to be young, white, and female than non-stimulant users in treatment. Study author Tracy Gunter, M.D., said better profiling of stimulant users would improve efforts to screen patients for addiction.

“Methamphetamine and certain synthetic stimulants are purported to be 'super drugs' in that the effects are more intense and long-lasting than those produced by cocaine. Stimulants can cause a severe addictive disorder that is very hard, but not impossible, to treat,” said Gunter of the University of Iowa's Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. “The more we know about who is likely to try meth, the more we can do to screen for substance abuse just as many primary caregivers currently screen for tobacco, alcohol or marijuana abuse.”

The researchers looked at a database containing information on 1.7 million treatment admissions and found that more than half of stimulant users were ages 21 to 34, while non-stimulant users tended to be older than 34. Forty-six percent of stimulant users were women, compared to 29 percent of non-stimulant users. And whites made up 79 percent of stimulant users, while just 3 percent were black and 18 percent were Native American, Asian, or members of ethnic groups.

The study was published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Substance Use and Misuse

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