National Methamphetamine Awareness Day: Understanding the Facts and Figures

National Methamphetamine Awareness Day: Understanding the Facts and Figures

Methamphetamine, often referred to as meth or crystal meth, is a potent and highly addictive drug with severe health and social consequences. Methamphetamine profoundly impacts the brain by significantly increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to body movement, motivation, and reward reinforcement. In the short term, even small amounts of methamphetamine lead to heightened wakefulness, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and elevated body temperature, mirroring the effects of other stimulants like cocaine. Long-term use, however, results in severe consequences, including extreme weight loss, addiction, dental problems, anxiety, changes in brain structure and function, confusion, memory loss, sleeping issues, violent behavior, paranoia, and hallucinations.

On National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, it’s essential to explore recent research and studies that provide valuable insights into the impact of methamphetamine use.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 964,000 people aged 12 and older in the United States reported using methamphetamine in 2017, representing about 0.4 percent of people aged 12 or older. Additionally, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that nearly 5% of individuals aged 26 and older have tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime.

Available as a bitter-tasting powder or pill, methamphetamine is chemically similar to ADHD medication amphetamine. Users administer it through smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting. The drug’s addictive nature manifests in withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense cravings. Methamphetamine overdose is a critical concern, often leading to strokes, heart attacks, or organ problems.

It is also important to remember the social and economic implications, including a substantial financial burden on communities and law enforcement agencies. Plus, the cost of treatment, including medical and rehabilitation services, further strains healthcare resources.

Access to effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction remains limited, emphasizing the importance of expanding and improving access to evidence-based treatment options. Effective treatments and the primary approach to addressing this involve behavioral therapies, as there are currently no government-approved medications. Behavioral therapies, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), aim to help individuals recognize, avoid, and cope with situations that trigger drug use, showing promise in treating methamphetamine addiction, with patients undergoing CBT reporting reduced cravings and improved abstinence rates.

As government agencies and community organizations strive to improve access to treatment and launch more effective initiatives, it’s essential that they take data-driven approach and leverage analytics to shed light on the prevalence, effects, and challenges associated with methamphetamine abuse.

For instance, Virginia’s Framework for Addiction Analytics and Community Transformation (FAACT) reveals key data points that can uncover powerful insights for community organizations, policy makers, and healthcare agencies:
  • From 2019 to 2022, there is a decrease of 10% in reported methamphetamine cases. The data shows a consistent decline in reported methamphetamine cases, suggesting a potential positive trend in efforts to address methamphetamine use.
  • Compared to cocaine and prescription stimulants, methamphetamine cases experienced a decrease of 10% over the years. Cocaine cases, for instance, show a decrease of 31%, and prescription stimulant cases have a reduction of about 49% during 2019 to 2022.
  • Considering the total number of reported stimulant cases (including methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription stimulants), there is an overall decrease of 26%. This indicates a substantial decline in stimulant-related incidents over the specified period.
  • Methamphetamine cases exhibited a more modest percentage decrease (10%) compared to the larger decline in the total number of stimulant cases (26%) over the same period. This indicates that while methamphetamine cases are decreasing, the broader category of stimulants is experiencing a more substantial reduction.
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This analysis highlights the progress in addressing methamphetamine use from 2019 to 2022. These findings emphasize the importance of ongoing efforts in combating stimulant abuse, with a specific focus on the nuanced patterns within different stimulant categories. National Methamphetamine Awareness Day represents a collaborative initiative aimed at delivering a dual message – one of prevention to potential users and another of education to current users regarding the available support programs.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2021). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Retrieved from
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Methamphetamine DrugFacts. Retrieved from
  3. Rawson, R. A., et al. (2020). A multi-site comparison of psychosocial approaches for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence. Addiction, 115(1), 102-117. doi:10.1111/add.14843

-Mehret Girmay, Sr. Analytics Consultant/Epidemiologist