Crystal Meth Use Increases Risk for Injecting Drugs
Young people who use crystal methamphetamine are more likely to inject drugs, reports a new study published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The research found that injection rates of crystal methamphetamine have increased significantly among adults drug users in Canada, especially in large urban areas like Vancouver, BC. Additionally, the use of crystal meth among "street-involved" youth aged 15-24 also increased from 2.5 percent in 1999 to 9.5 percent in 2005, the study reported.
'Urgent public health priority'
Data for the study came from the At-Risk Youth Study, which involved 991 young people who completed a questionnaire on drug use. Forty percent of the respondents reported using crystal methamphetamine and 39 percent injected drugs at the start of the study. Researchers then looked at the 395 youth who had not injected drugs at the study's start, finding that 16 percent reported injecting drugs for the first time at some point during the study period, which lasted five years.
"Within a sample of street-involved youth in a Canadian setting, recent non-injection use of crystal methamphetamine was independently associated with an increased risk of subsequent initiation of injection drug use," said study authors Dr. Evan Wood and Dan Werb, from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. "Within a subsample of first-time injection drug users, crystal methamphetamine was most commonly reported as the drug used during initiation events."
The authors said the findings represent an "urgent public health priority," and that further research is needed to develop evidence-based interventions to prevent drug injection.
About 39 percent of the young people in the study said they injected drugs in public places. Fifty-seven percent said they had done so in the company of friends, while 13 percent said they injected drugs with family members.
Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal