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Methamphetamine abuse linked to underage sex, smoking and drinking
Date:11/18/2008

Teens who have never done drugs, but engage in other risky behaviours such as drinking, smoking and being sexually active, are more likely to use crystal meth, medical researchers at the University of Alberta have concluded. Among teens already doing other drugs, those with unstable family environments are most likely to do crystal meth, found the research team led by Dr. Terry Klassen, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

The researchers conducted an exhaustive search of the literature on methamphetamine use, and analyzed the results of a dozen studies to get a big-picture idea of factors at the individual, family and community level associated with crystal meth use among children and adolescents.

"If risk factors for MA use could be identified, physicians and other health-care professionals who work with youth may be better equipped to identify MA users, and develop education and prevention programs that could be targeted to youth at greater risk for using MA," Klassen said.

The U of A article was recently published in the medical journal BMC Pediatrics.

The researchers divided children and adolescents into two groups: "low-risk" (no previous drug use) and "high-risk" (history of drug use or time in a juvenile detention centre). There were some clear patterns of risk factors associated with crystal meth use, they said.

In the low-risk group, the U of A team also found that boys were more likely to try crystal meth than girls, and being homosexual or bisexual was also a risk factor.

But in the high-risk group, more girls than boys used crystal meth. In this group, drinking was not associated with methamphetamine use, but a family history of alcohol abuse was. Child abuse was not found to be significant factor.

Having certain psychiatric conditions was a risk factor for both groups. Because of the nature of the studies involved, the U of A researchers say they could not
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Contact: Meredith McLennan
meredith.mclennan@ualberta.ca
780-248-1320
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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