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Young meth users increasing, study finds

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A study has found that the numbers of young people dependent on methamphetamine has increased.

In 2012-13, it was estimated that 1.14% of 15-24 year olds were dependent meth users. Consistently the highest rate of use were in the 25-34 year age group, with estimated dependence in 2012-13 being 1.50%.

The research, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, comprised of the first quantification of the size of the methamphetamine population.

The research was led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

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They estimated the number of regular and dependent meth users in Australia every year from 2002-3 until 2013-14. The researchers broke it down into age groups of 15–24, 25–34, 35–44 and 45–54 years.

It’s estimated that almost 270,000 Australians aged between 15 and 54 years are regular users, with over half that being dependent users.

“This equates to population rates of 2.09% for regular and 1.24% for dependent use,” Professor Degenhardt and colleagues wrote.

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The authors concluded: “Our estimates suggest that the most recent numbers are the highest for this period, and that the increase has been most marked among young adults (those aged 15–34 years).

“The increased number of problem methamphetamine users indicates a need to expand services to redress the health problems associated with regular methamphetamine use.”

Read the full study in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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