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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jun 1;109(1-3):14-9. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.11.021. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

Methamphetamine use, aggressive behavior and other mental health issues among high-school students in Cape Town, South Africa.

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  • 1Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Unit, Medical Research Council, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa.



Methamphetamine use has become a growing problem in a number of countries over the past two decades, but has only recently emerged in South Africa. This study investigated the prevalence of methamphetamine use among high-school students in Cape Town and whether students reporting methamphetamine use were more likely to be at risk for mental health and aggressive behavior problems.


A cross-sectional survey of 15 randomly selected high schools in Cape Town, of 1561 males and females grade 8-10 students (mean age 14.9), was conducted using the Problem Oriented Screening Instrument for Teenagers (POSIT) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).


Findings indicated that 9% of the students had tried methamphetamine at least once. Ordinal logistic regression analyses showed that methamphetamine use in the past year was significantly associated with higher aggressive behavior scores (OR=1.81, 95% CI: 1.04-3.15, p<0.05), mental health risk scores (OR=2.04, 95% CI: 1.26-3.31, p<0.01) and depression scores (OR=2.65, 95% CI: 1.64-4.28, p<0.001).


Methamphetamine use has become a serious problem in Cape Town, particularly among adolescents. Screening adolescents in school settings for methamphetamine use and behavior problems may be useful in identifying youth at risk for substance misuse, providing an opportunity for early intervention. These findings have implications for other parts of the world where methamphetamine use may be occurring at younger ages and highlight the importance of looking at co-morbid issues related to methamphetamine use.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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