Scope Of Methamphetamine Use In The U.S.

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug that latches onto the opioid receptors in the central nervous system to produce euphoric and energizing effects. Unfortunately, meth use still runs rampant in the U.S, with over 24,000 overdose deaths in 2020 alone.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


A 2020 National Survey found that 0.9% percent of the population over the age of 12 had used methamphetamines in the past year — or roughly 2.6 million people.

Among these same individuals, the number of people with a self-reported methamphetamine use disorder totaled over 1.5 million people.

Substance use continues to be a problem in the U.S. for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as it has taken many steps to prevent the illicit sale, distribution, and use of meth.

Meth Use Statistics In The United States

Methamphetamine, a more potent form of amphetamine, has seen an uptick in use over the past decade, with numbers of fatal and nonfatal overdoses climbing each year.

Drug trafficking from Mexico and domestic labs in the U.S. continues to pour crystal meth — the most commonly used form of meth — into the country, contributing to the illicit drug trade.

Meth Use Among All People

Federally funded research reports have found that over 2.5 million people over 12 years of age have reported meth use in the past 12 months for two consecutive years.

While law enforcement attempts to stifle the amount of imported illicit substances, particularly meth and opioids from Mexico, drug use rates are continuing to climb.

Meth Use Among Different Racial Groups

Drug addiction does not discriminate based on race, gender, sexuality, economic status, or any other kind of variable. Addiction affects everyone.

However, when doing studies and reports on substance use, demographics are taken into account to better understand who is using meth, how, and why.

A study performed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that meth use among different racial demographics in the U.S is climbing at an alarming rate.

A 2019 NIDA study found these meth use rates among different demographics:

  • 1.8% of Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
  • 0.8% of Caucasian Americans
  • 0.7% of Hispanic or Latino persons
  • 0.2% of African Americans or other Black demographics
  • 0.2% of Asian Americans

Meth Use In The LGBTQ Community

People who use methamphetamine in the LGBTQ community have faced harrowing challenges as rates of meth use continue to climb and hope for efficacious treatment stagnates.

Studies have found that men in the LGBTQ community use methamphetamines at a rate 4x higher than that of straight men — a disparity of 4.1% versus 0.9%.

In addition to the heightened risk of contracting AIDS, intravenous use of methamphetamine among LGBTQ members substantially increases the risk of HIV spreading.

Meth Abuse In Young Adults Vs. Older Adults

According to a 2020 survey from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 171,000 young adults over the age of 18 have used meth.

NIDA has reported that even though persons aged 65 years or older only constitute 13% of the population, rates of meth drug abuse and other illicit substance abuse are much greater.

One perceived reason for this increase in meth use in elderly persons is attributed to the higher rates of chronic illness, arthritis, and other painful conditions they face.

This matches with the rates of benzodiazepine abuse in the U.S., as elderly people tend to abuse prescription painkillers at higher rates than adolescents or young adults.

Meth Abuse Among High School Students

Unfortunately, American school systems are seeing an increase in illicit substances being imported into bathrooms, gym locker rooms, and janitorial closets.

A NIDA study from 2019 found that 0.2% of 8th, 9th, and 12th graders either tested positive or self-reported methamphetamine use in the past year.

Meth Use With Other Drugs

Because of the manufacturing process of methamphetamines, meth, much like fentanyl, can be added to other drugs, typically in powdered or liquid form, to increase its potency.

NIDA has reported that amphetamine, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine are combined at alarming rates. This is known as ‘speedballing.’

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a substantial increase in overdoses linked with a combination of meth and other drugs.

Between 2018 and 2019, psychostimulant and methamphetamine drug overdose deaths increased by over 28%.

Methamphetamine Overdose Deaths

NIDA found that methamphetamine-involved fatal overdoses have tripled between 2015 and 2019 among persons aged 18-64.

This study credits higher rates of frequent use, combining meth with other substances, and increasing meth use disorder rates for this increase in meth overdose rates.

Non-Fatal Meth Overdose Rates

There has been a sharp increase in domestic meth imports, and taken alongside the recent coronavirus epidemic, this has caused more and more people to turn to drugs to release stress, among other reasons.

This has caused a staggering increase in substance use, meth-related deaths, and non-fatal meth overdoses.
Studies on meth use from 2020 found an 18% increase in non-fatal overdoses, with the numbers stretching from 6,196 to 7,290 in median per-capita samples.

Treatment Admissions For Meth Addiction

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that more people are forming addictions, but more still are seeking meth treatment.

The percentage of persons aged 12 and over that sought treatment for meth addiction from 2015 through 2019 has risen from 0.3% to 0.4%, a significant and positive increase.

Factors That Influence Meth Addiction

There are many different factors, including race, gender, and socioeconomic factors, which influence meth addiction.

Economic Status

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) conducted a research study that found no direct correlation between economic status and methamphetamine addiction.

The study explored alcohol, opioids, tobacco use, and the smoking of marijuana in various economic and racial demographics, but little consensus was found to support a connection.

Family History Of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can run in the family, making it difficult for young adults to either stay clean or avoid substance use altogether.

The more likely a parental figure is to be addicted to any particular substance has a direct correlation to substance use in children in the same domestic setting.


Many people seek substances to aid with stress, anxiety, or trauma. However, there is a direct correlation between prolonged substance use and worsening depressive episodes.

Mental Illness

A study performed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that, of a selected sample of persons with meth addictions, over 28% suffered from a pre-substance mental illness.

Due to the nature of substance addiction, mental illness can devolve into a worsened state because of the hormonal and emotional effects of methamphetamine on the brain.

Dangers Of Methamphetamine Abuse

The dangers of meth abuse are numerous, including physical, mental, and behavioral health risks.

Some of these dangers include:

  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • oral health problems
  • respiratory health complications
  • potential for overdose
  • severe withdrawal symptoms
  • heightened body temperature
  • risk of contracting hepatitis

Treatment Options For Methamphetamine Addiction

Fortunately, there are many substance use disorder treatment programs to help treat meth addiction.

Treatment centers provide services such as:

  • inpatient and outpatient treatment programs
  • detox
  • residential treatment options
  • therapy and counseling
  • educational and vocational programs
  • telehealth services

Find Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one are seeking recovery services for meth addiction, call our free helpline today to discuss enrollment at Bedrock.

  1. National Library of Medicine (NLM)
  2. National Library of Medicine (NLM),%2C%20and%2022.3%25%20injected%20methamphetamine.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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