Methamphetamine is a synthetic, or human-made stimulant that is dangerous and highly addictive. This drug gives a sense of euphoria, an increase in energy, a decrease in appetite, and a feeling of overall well-being that makes users continue despite serious adverse effects to health. National methamphetamine statistics show that the use rate is going down across the United States. However, use of this substance is still of great concern.
Statistics of Meth Use
When comparing statistics of methamphetamine use, it is important to distinguish between current users and those who have ever used the drug during their lifetimes.
Lifetime Use of Methamphetamine:
- According to data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse 1 for the year 2011, 4.6 percent of the United States population aged 12 and older have used this drug at some point in their lifetimes. This amounts to more than 12 million Americans over the age of 12 who have tried it during their lifetimes.
More Recent Use of Methamphetamine:
- Although such a high number of people have tried meth at some point in their lives, current methamphetamine statistics of use show much lower numbers for current users. For ages 12 and over in the United States, use in the past year came in at 0.4 percent of the population, whereas past month use during the study time in 2011 was at 0.2 percent. Approximately 500,000 people use the drug monthly or more frequently.
Methamphetamine Use versus Other Drug Use
Although it may sound like methamphetamine use is a huge problem, it is less problematic than many other drugs. According to the Drug Policy Alliance2, statistics for other drugs tried at least once during people’s lifetimes are as follows:
- Inhalants – 23 million
- Psychedelics – 34 million
- Cocaine – 34 million
- Marijuana – 100 million
As these statistics show, methamphetamine is tried and used less frequently than many other illegal substances.
A Comparison of Methamphetamine Effects on Dopamine Levels in the Brain
Certain activities and even foods can cause an increase in the feeling of pleasure in the body. This effect is caused because of a release of dopamine in the brain that occurs during certain activities. Statistics provided by Frontline PBS3 show the effects certain events and substances have on dopamine levels in the brain. For the examples used, the baseline of dopamine level in the brain is considered at 100 units. Some statistics show:
- Sex causes dopamine levels to rise to 200 units
- Cocaine use causes dopamine levels to increase to 350 units
- Causes dopamine levels to spike at 1,250 units
This shows how this drug can affect the brain and give such a euphoric feeling to users, and how this drug can become so highly addictive.
Methamphetamine Statistics: Teen Use
Although overall use has declined across the nation, methamphetamine still holds a fascination for the younger user. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse1, between one and two percent of teens have tried meth at least once in their lives before turning 18 years of age. However, current use for this age group is higher than overall users for the past month, at approximately 0.5 percent of the population under 18 years old using during the study period in 2011.
National versus Local Statistics on Meth Use
According to information provided to PBS4 by the Montana Meth Project, although national statistics for methamphetamine use are going down, many local areas are seeing an increase in both use and crime related to meth use during the same period in 2005. According to local sheriff’s departments, during that period, there was a reported 55 percent increase in meth-related crime in local areas. Also, 47 percent of sheriff’s departments noted that the number one drug problem in their district was meth use.
Statistics for anything, including methamphetamine statistics, should be checked through a variety of sources when possible, as statistical information can vary due to the specific population studied, where the information being studied came from, and the period that the survey covers, among other details that could cause statistical data to be skewed.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse; Methamphetamine
2. The Drug Policy Alliance; Methamphetamine Facts
3. Frontline; How Meth Destroys the Body; PBS.org
4. NOW Enterprising Ideas; Meth Facts and Resources; PBS.org