Meth Statistics & Facts

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Methamphetamine (meth) use is a significant public health concern that’s been burdening many communities in the United States for decades. It has been associated with a myriad of serious physical and mental health consequences for users and unique dangers for those exposed to meth smoke or the manufacturing process. Although this issue has been largely overshadowed by overdoses related to opioids in recent years, it continues to flourish in rural areas and has become increasingly inexpensive to obtain on the black market.

If you or a loved one have been struggling with meth use, you may have developed a dependence and be at high risk for drug-related illnesses, social repercussions, and legal issues. Seeking treatment promptly can reduce your risk of experiencing further health problems and the many adverse outcomes ongoing meth use can cause. To learn more about how you can overcome meth addiction and foster a new life in sobriety, contact Guardian Recovery today.

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What Is Meth & How Does It Affect the Brain & Body?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive stimulant with a long duration of action, most commonly found as a white or light-brown crystalline powder or rock-like form (crystal meth), which can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. Meth is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II substance in the United States, meaning it has a high potential for misuse. (1) Despite this, it is sometimes prescribed under limited circumstances to treat ADD/ADHD and obesity. (2) Nonetheless, most meth sold on the black market is illicitly manufactured in clandestine laboratories and can be highly dangerous due to the use of toxic substances in the manufacturing process.

Meth use increases levels of the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain, inducing short-term feelings of pleasure and reward, euphoria, increased energy, and a loss of appetite. However, long-term misuse of meth can lead to severe and chronic physical and mental health issues, including addiction, paranoia, hallucinations, aggression, tooth deterioration, and skin sores.

Meth Misuse Rates by Demographic

Meth misuse can affect anyone of any age, sex, gender, race, or socioeconomic background. However, certain demographics may be more susceptible to developing addiction and experiencing the long-term harmful effects of meth use.

Meth Misuse by Age

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that during 2015–2018, 1.6 million U.S. adults aged 18 years and older reported past-year meth use, and nearly 53% had a meth use disorder. (3) Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine nearly tripled during this time among people ages 18–64, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (4)

In the U.S., meth use is most prevalent among young adults aged 18–49, with an average of 9.5 per 1,000 adults aged 18+ years reporting past-year meth use. The 26–34 group had the highest incidence, at 11 per 1,000. This age group is believed to be more susceptible due to factors such as peer pressure, increased impulsivity, and a higher propensity for experimentation. (5)

Meth Misuse by Area

Research has shown that individuals who live in rural areas may be at a higher risk for meth use than those in urban areas due to limited access to resources and higher poverty rates. The Rural Health Information Hub reports that rural and urban meth use rates for those aged 18 and older are 1.5%, 0.9%, and 0.8% for non-metro, small metro, and large metro areas, respectively. (6)

Meth Misuse by Sex

Men are more likely to use meth than women. The CDC reports that the rates of past-year use were 8.7% for men and 4.7% for women. (7) This gender difference may be due to cultural and social factors, such as the association of meth use with machismo and the increased stigma against drug use among women.

Meth Misuse by Race/Ethnicity

According to the CDC, the annual average rates per 1,000 adults aged 18 years and older, by race or ethnicity, are 7.5 for whites, 6.7 for hispanics, 2.5 for blacks, and 5.6 for all others. (8) Research has shown that systemic issues, such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare, can contribute to higher rates of substance misuse among certain racial and ethnic groups.

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Meth Use Rates Compared to Other Drugs

According to the NSDUH, meth use is less prevalent than marijuana and prescription drug misuse but more prevalent than heroin use. (9)

2020 Past-Year Illicit Drug Use Among People Aged 12+ Statistics Include:

  • 21.4% or 59.3 million used illicit drugs.
  • 17.9% or 49.6 million used marijuana.
  • 3.7% or 10.3 million used stimulants, and approximately 1 in 7 or 1.5 million of these used only meth.
    3.4% or 9.5 million misused opioids, including 9.3 million who used prescription pain relievers and 902,000 who used heroin.
  • 2.6% or 7.1 million used hallucinogens.

Meth Misuse, Overdose, & Relapse Statistics

Other Meth Misuse, Overdose, & Relapse Statistics Include:

  • The 2021 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 27 million people worldwide were past-year users of amphetamines, including meth. This corresponded to 0.5% of the global population aged 15–64. This report also stated that the non-medical use of pharmaceutical stimulants and meth is most common in North America. (10)
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that the percentage of U.S. people age 12 and older reporting past-year meth use increased by nearly 28% from 2019 to 2020. (11)
  • In 2021, NIDA reported that there were 32,537 overdose deaths involving stimulants, including cocaine and others with misuse potential (primarily meth). (12)

Moreover, a 2014 study examining meth use patterns found that 61% of the study sample relapsed within one year after discharge from treatment and 25% during the next 2–5 years. (13)

Co-Occurring Disorders Statistics

Individuals who have a history of trauma or mental health disorders may also be more vulnerable to developing a meth addiction. Meth use has been associated with a wide range of mental health problems that preexist, worsen, or manifest as a result. Likewise, pre-existing mental health conditions can also increase the risk of developing a meth addiction.

Mental Health Conditions & Meth Use Statistics Include:

  • National data indicates that 41.6% of adults with amphetamine use disorders have a lifetime history of depression. (14)
  • Anxiety is one of the most common psychiatric symptoms reported among meth users. (15)
  • Meth-related psychiatric symptoms are common and include irritability, anxiety, psychosis, and mood disturbances. Notable psychotic symptoms among meth users include hallucinations and paranoid delusions. (16)
  • Meth use has been associated with cognitive impairments such as learning and memory deficits, impaired social cognition, and poor impulse control. (17)

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the University of British Columbia found that drug users who inject methamphetamine had an 80% greater risk of attempting suicide than drug users who inject other substances. (18)

The Economic Cost of Meth Use

The total cost of meth use in the United States is difficult to determine, as it includes various economic, social, and health-related factors. Still, research has revealed some potentially useful estimates.

Economic Impacts of Meth Use Include:

  • The RAND Corporation states that the total economic cost of meth use was about $23.4 billion in 2005, with the true economic burden somewhere in the range of $16.2 billion to $48.3 billion. (19)
  • The JAMA Network reports that annual hospital costs related to amphetamines increased from $436 million in 2003 to $2.17 billion in 2015. (20)

Cambridge University reported that a 2005 survey of police officials from 45 states demonstrated that meth-induced crime was increasing and that criminal justice costs associated with enforcing meth laws represented the second largest category of criminal justice costs at $4.2 billion. (21)

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Contact Guardian Recovery Today To Begin

Using meth is an extremely dangerous habit that has ruined many lives and continues to wreak havoc on communities and individuals throughout the United States. Although meth addiction is not curable, it is very treatable using specialized treatment and evidence-based approaches. At Guardian Recovery, our comprehensive programs and multiple levels of care focus on helping individuals struggling with the misuse of addictive substances, including meth, prescription medication, illicit drugs, and alcohol.

Contact us today to speak to a skilled Treatment Advisor and receive a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check. Using medical detox, behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and highly individualized rehab programs, we help those who need it most break free from addiction and enjoy long-lasting abstinence. Reach out and learn more about our streamlined admissions process and full continuum of care.

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(1)https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/ (2)https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_methamphetamine/drugs-condition.htm (3)(5)(7)(8)https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912a1.htm (4)https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/09/methamphetamine-involved-overdose-deaths-nearly-tripled-between-2015-to-2019-nih-study-finds (6)https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/substance-use (9)https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt35325/NSDUHFFRPDFWHTMLFiles2020/2020NSDUHFFR1PDFW102121.pdf (10)https://www.unodc.org/res/wdr2021/field/WDR21_Booklet_2.pdf (11)https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt35323/NSDUHDetailedTabs2020v25/NSDUHDetailedTabs2020v25/NSDUHDetTabsSect1pe2020.htm (12)https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4550209/ (14)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2749575/ (15)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3159418/ (16)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027896/ (17)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00880/full (18)https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/news/injected-meth-associated-increased-risk-attempted-suicide (19)https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9438.html (20)https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2707432 (21)https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/environmental-practice/article/perspectives-from-the-field-meth-labs-your-neighborhood-hazardous-waste-facility/007506FE036EEB3001EDD8AB53983066#fn002

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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