Disclosures: One study author reports owning stock in General Electric, 3M and Pfizer unrelated to this work. Han and the other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

January 20, 2021
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Methamphetamine overdose death rates differ by sex, race/ethnicity

Disclosures: One study author reports owning stock in General Electric, 3M and Pfizer unrelated to this work. Han and the other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Methamphetamine overdose death rates in the United States in recent years differed by sex, race and ethnicity, according to results of a research letter published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“U.S. age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased nearly five-fold during 2012 to 2018,” Beth Han, MD, PhD, MPH, of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues wrote. “Although addiction outcomes can be improved with sex-specific and culturally tailored prevention and treatment interventions, the extent to which fatalities differ as functions of sex and race and ethnicity has not been analyzed, to our knowledge.”

drugs on table
Source: Adobe Stock

Han and colleagues analyzed existing deidentified public health surveillance data from National Vital Statistics System files for multiple causes of death. They considered drug overdose deaths as those assigned an underlying cause of death according to ICD-10 codes. Further, they stratified age-adjusted overdose death rates between 2011 and 2018 by sex and race/ethnicity and limited data to those aged 25 to 54 years, since recent national data showed four-fifths of current methamphetamine users were in this age range.

Results showed age-adjusted rates for deaths involving methamphetamine increased from 1.8 to 10.1 per 100,000 among men and from 0.8 to 4.5 per 100,000 among women between 2011 and 2018. Rates were highest within each sex among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native individuals, having increased from 5.6 to 26.4 per 100,000 among men between 2011 and 2018 and from 3.6 to 15.6 per 100,000 among women between 2012 and 2018. Rates were second highest between 2011 and 2018 among non-Hispanic white individuals, having increased from 2.2 to 12.6 per 100,000 among men and from 1.1 to 6.2 per 100,000 among women.

Among Hispanic individuals, rates increased from 1.4 to 6.6 per 100,000 for men and from 0.5 to 2 per 100,000 per women. Rates increased among non-Hispanic Asian individuals in 2018 to 3.4 per 100,000 for men and to 1.1 per 100,000 for women. Although rates were low among non-Hispanic Black individuals, non-Hispanic Black men exhibited increased rates between 2011 and 2018 from 0.6 to 6.4 per 100,000. Among non-Hispanic Black women between 2012 and 2018, rates increased from 0.2 to 1.7 per 100,000, which was similar to those of non-Hispanic white and American Indian and Alaska Native women.

“Our results highlight the urgency to support prevention and treatment interventions for methamphetamine-related harms, especially among American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who experience sociostructural disadvantages, but whose cultural strengths can be leveraged to improve addiction outcomes,” Han and colleagues wrote.