Methamphetamine: Epidemic, What Epidemic? Meth Use Down, SAMHSA Says

Despite the methamphetamine mania rampant among the media and law enforcement officials, annual national drug use surveys show that meth use levels were stagnant between 2002 and 2004, and declined dramatically in 2005. According to an analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), first-time meth users declined from 318,000 in 2004 to 192,000 in 2005.

The number of people who admitted using methamphetamine within the last year was also on the decline during the years between 2002 and 2005. In 2002, 0.7% of the population above age 12 admitted past year use; in 2005, that figure had declined to 0.5%. Past year use was highest in the West (1.2%), followed by the South and Midwest (0.5%), with the Northeast trailing with 0.1%.

According to the study, about 1.3 million people used meth during 2005. Some 500,000 used it at least once a month. Despite all the hoopla about meth addiction, methamphetamine users accounted for only 8% of all drug treatment admissions.

"Methamphetamine is a very destructive drug that can do serious harm to families and entire communities," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. "We are pleased to see these decreases in use, and SAMHSA is continuing to provide funding opportunities so that communities can fight the use of this insidious drug and provide treatment to those who need it."

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Meth Use Down

How in God's name do you formulate valid findings on meth use from a survey of people "volunteering" to admit their use of it? Meth users are the most paranoid of all drug users and as such, aren't likely to even be visible for a survey. Also, these "surveys" always manage to exclude the demographics most likely to be abusing drugs. Since 60 to 75% of any prison or jail population is comprised of people who are there on a drug or alcohol related issue, why are they excluded? And what about the homeless? Or how about the Native population? What would the "survey look like then?

The answers obtained by asking the average, mainstream person if they've used meth in the last year are about as useful as asking the average Floridian if they've used snowshoes in the last year. Your survey is inherently flawed because you're surveying the wrong people.

It's called Statistics

Any survey about illicit drug use will be skewed by the fact that responders will have to be willing to admit criminal wrongdoing to honestly take part. If you take that into effect for every meth survey ever done, then you at least get a consistent understanding of responses, and if the level of admitted use goes down from previous levels, then it is statistically, logically, and scientifically valid to conclude that actual use has gone down. The numbers may not be completely accurate, at the beginning or the end, but by comparing them you get valuable information. It's called Stats.
Secondly, where are you getting the idea that this survey is underrepresenting certain "high-risk" groups? Do you know something about these surveys that the article isn't mentioning? If so, please cite. If not, then are you dismissing this survey because of a personal mistrust of surveys in general? How can you say they're surveying the "wrong people" when this is a survey trying to ascertain the amount of meth use among the entire population of America, and not just previous users or high-risk groups? How would surveying the "right people" help us understand meth use better?

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