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Crystal Methamphetamine Use By Street Youth Increases Risk Of Injecting Drugs

Update Date: Oct 17, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

Crystal methamphetamine is the most common drug which is used at the time of first injection. The drug is now being linked to an increased risk of injecting drugs among street-involved youth, a new study has found.

Cannabis being the most popular, Amphetamine-type drugs which also includes crystal methamphetamine is the second most popular drug in Canada.

The research shows that the increment in injection rates of crystal methamphetamine among adult drug users in Canadian centres such as BC and Vancouver. Overall the use of crystal methamphetamine by street-involved youth aged between 15–24 in Canada has also increase from 2.5% in 1999 to 9.5% in 2005.

Data from the At-Risk Youth Study of street-involved youth aged 14–26 in Vancouver were considered to determine whether crystal methamphetamine use is linked to first-time drug injection. Around 1000 youths completed the questionnaire in which 40% of them reported that they used methamphetamine.

In the study the average age for first-time use of crystal methamphetamine was determined 14 years. These youths later became intravenous drug users.

“Within a sample of street-involved youth in a Canadian setting, recent noninjection use of crystal methamphetamine was independently associated with an increased risk of subsequent initiation of injection drug use,” write Dr. Evan Wood and Dan Werb, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, with coauthors.

“Within a subsample of first-time injection drug users, crystal methamphetamine was most commonly reported as the drug used during initiation events.”

The research was also involved with location where they took the injections. 39% of them reported injecting drugs in public places.

“Addressing the impact of crystal methamphetamine use in increasing the risk of injection initiation among injection-naive street-involved youth represents an urgent public health priority,” write the authors.

The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

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