& Young People
by Matthew Gleeson
This presentation responds to the following questions:
1. What is methamphetamine?
2. What are the effects of methamphetamine?
3. What is the prevalence of methamphetamine use
amongst young Australian’s (12 – 15 years of age)?
4. Is Australia experiencing a ‘meth epidemic’?
• A powerful CNS stimulant
• A part of the amphetamine family of drugs
• Is the most commonly available illicit form of
amphetamine in Australia
(Source: Connolly et al. 2006)
What is Methamphetamine?
What are the effects of
• Damage to oral health
• Behavioural disturbances
• Mood and affective disorders
• Risk taking behaviours (e.g. drug driving,
unsafe sex practices etc)
• Overheating and dehydration
• Risk of BBV transmission associated with
Young people &
The shift in the Australian illicit amphetamines markets in the early to mid 1990’s
from amphetamine sulphate to predominately methamphetamine has lead to:
– An increase in potency of available illicit forms of amphetamines
– A diversity of forms of the drug (powder, base and crystal) leading to an
increase in the numbers of young people who smoke the drug.
According to the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) the growing trend
of young people smoking crystal methamphetamine has increased the likelihood
of an earlier onset of dependence and other drug related harms
(ANCD Position Paper on Methamphetamines 2007)
Is there a meth epidemic in
There has been an inordinate amount of media coverage and
media campaigns regarding use if methamphetamines in
Australia in recent years.
But is there really a ‘meth epidemic’?
Prevalence of use amongst
Australian Institute of Health
and Welfare 2011
White, V. & Smith G. 2009
Prevalence of use amongst
• Meth/amphetamine use has declined since a peak in prevalence of use by
people 14+ years in 1998
• Trends of use amongst secondary school aged young people (12 – 15 years
of age) reflect trends within community up until 2008 when people in this
age range were over represented when compared to measures of
prevalence in the wider community
• Overall use of meth/amphetamines amongst young people continues to
• Methamphetamine is a powerful CNS stimulant that is associated
with a number of short term and long term drug related harms
• The emergence of crystal methamphetamine may have implications
for greater numbers of young people exhibiting symptoms of
dependence and other drug related harms
• While the overall prevalence of recent methamphetamine use
remains quite low, young people (12- 15 years of age) are over
represented when compared to the general population.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Drug statistics series no. 25. Cat. no.
PHE 145. Canberra: AIHW.
Australian National Council on Drugs (2007) Methamphetamine Position Paper
Australian National Council on Drugs website, accessed 29th August, 2011
Connolly, K., Lee, N. & Clark, C. (2006). from GO to WHOA - Psychostimulants training program for health professionals: Train the Trainer
Manual Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.
White, V. & Smith G. (2009) Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2008
Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia