Meth! Meth! Meth!…. errr, Cocaine?
July 2, 2007
Drug and Alcohol Dependence has an article in preprint from Falck and colleagues entitled Perceived need for substance abuse treatment among illicit stimulant drug users in rural areas of Ohio, Arkansas, and Kentucky. I’ve been waiting for this since a poster version was presented a year ago at the CPDD annual meeting. Fascinatingly this was the meeting in which the Congressional lobbyist hired by the College outlined why Congress was going to be all about Methamphetamine because every time you turned around there was another popular media report on the ravages of METH, METH overrunning the resources of local sheriff’s departments and emergency rooms, etc. Congressional interest has a way of turning into funding priorities, for example NIDA launched an RFA for a Cooperative Agreement (U-mechanism, meaning they are serious) on Immunotherapeutic products specifically for METH addiction.
The Falck et al. is fascinating because it took a look at stimulant (amphetamine, cocaine, methamphetamine primarily) users (at least once in past 30 days) in rural America. You can tell from the title of the article that we’re talking the stereotypical METH country going by popular media. So what’s interesting here? For me the most interesting thing is the descriptive stats on the users. Daily use of METH in the entire sample was 8% (35% “nondaily” use), as contrasted with Amphetamine (2.4% daily; 13% nondaily), Crack Cocaine (17.6% daily; 41.6% nondaily) and Powder Cocaine (7.7% daily; 40.9% nondaily) use.
So, umm, METH is only about the same magnitude of problem (drug-use wise) and maybe a little smaller than good old cocaine?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be wary of trends and emerging/spreading drugs of abuse but one wonders whether funding priorities are driven by a dispassionate review of the “problem” and whether funding-by-AP-story is the best approach.