Introduction: This paper reviews epidemiological information about methamphetamine production and use in North America.
Methods: Information is drawn from a range of sources, including, but not limited to, historical accounts, peer-reviewed papers, population surveys and large national databases.
Results: Methamphetamine and amphetamine use in North America is characterised by geographic variations, with different types of the drug, different routes of administration and different types of users at various times. Unlike some other drug use patterns in North America, the nature of methamphetamine use in Canada, Mexico and the United States has been linked closely in terms of production and supply of the drug. According to their national household surveys, the annual prevalence for 'speed' use in Canada was 0.8% in 2004, 0.3% for 'anfetaminas' and 0.1% for 'metanfetaminas' in Mexico in 2002, and 1.4% for 'stimulants' in the United States in 2006.
Discussion: Although the data sources in the three North American countries are not consistent in methodology, terminology or frequency of reporting, all show similar trends. The type of stimulant most used has shifted from non-medical use of pharmaceutical amphetamine to use of powder methamphetamine and then to use of 'ice'. The indicators show the problem is greatest in the western parts of the countries and is moving eastward, but the decreased availability of pseudoephedrine may have a significant impact on the nature of the epidemic in the future. Nevertheless, use of methamphetamine poses a number of risks for users and specialised treatment resources for these various populations are needed.