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NIH: Methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015 and 2019

A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that overdose deaths in the United States involving methamphetamine nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people 18 to 64 years of age.  

The number of people who reported using methamphetamine during this time did not increase as sharply, but the study revealed that populations with methamphetamine use disorder have become more diverse.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, cited such factors as rising methamphetamine use disorder, frequent use, and concurrent use of other drugs as contributing to the rise in overdose deaths.

“Public health approaches must be tailored to address methamphetamine use across the diverse communities at risk, and particularly for American Indian and Alaska Native communities, who have the highest risk for methamphetamine misuse and are too often underserved,” said Nora Volkow, MD, NIDA director and one of the study authors.

More than 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020, making it the largest 1-year increase in overdose deaths ever recorded, according to provisional CDC data.

“What makes these data even more devastating is that currently, there are no approved medications to treat methamphetamine use disorder,” said Emily Einstein, PhD, chief of NIDA’s Science Policy Branch and a co-author of the study. “NIDA is working to develop new treatment approaches, including safe and effective medications urgently needed to slow the increase in methamphetamine use, overdoses, and related deaths.”

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