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Psychol Health Med. 2013;18(3):262-74. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2012.701754. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Racial/ethnic differences in health status and morbidity among adults who use methamphetamine.

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Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Higher disease rates among ethnic-minority populations compared to Whites have been pervasive and persistent over time, and as methamphetamine (MA) use continues to penetrate ethnically diverse geographic regions across the United States, minority populations may be at increased risk for adverse MA-related health consequences, thus further contributing to poorer health among vulnerable populations. This study examines racial/ethnic differences in health status and health conditions among individuals who used MA. Data are from a natural history interview study of adult MA users (N = 512), half of whom received treatment for MA abuse, and a comparison group who had not received substance abuse treatment. Chi-square and logistic regression analyses examined differences by race/ethnicity in self-reported health status and morbidity, adjusting for age, gender, and health behaviors including MA use severity and tobacco use. Overall, back/neck injuries (27%), severe dental problems (26%), gunshot/knife injury (25%), and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (24%) were commonly reported. Racial/ethnic differences were observed for conditions including gunshot/knife injuries, hearing loss, and learning disabilities disproportionately affecting Latino populations, and asthma and STDs disproportionately affecting African-Americans. Results varied by whether treatment for MA abuse was received. Although poor health and morbidity were common overall, each ethnic group may be at higher risk for specific health problems. Health status and conditions in this MA-using sample are examined and discussed with reference to general population data. These findings may assist researchers and treatment providers in addressing health consequences of the increasing prevalence of MA use among minority populations. Understanding ethnic differences in health status among MA users may assist in developing interventions to target specific health care needs.

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