Background: Over the past two decades, China has experienced a dramatic increase in methamphetamine (MA) abuse. This study examined gender-specific socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of MA use among Han Chinese, which has previously received little systematic study.
Methods: This analysis described MA-related socio-demographic and clinical characteristics in a broad cross-sectional sample (n=1464; male/female=1185/279), and examined differences between males and females in MA use history, MA initiation, MA-related subjective feelings and behaviors, and withdrawal symptoms.
Results: Most MA abusers (about 72%) were young (in their 20s or 30s), with women being 5 years younger than men on average. More males (33.2%) were married than females (21.9%). The average body mass index (BMI) was significantly lower in this MA abuser sample compared to the age-matched healthy controls. Moreover, the BMI of females was significantly lower than that of males. The laboratory tests showed that the blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride were all significantly higher in males than females. Females used MA at a younger age compared to males. The most frequent route of MA use was smoking (90.9%). Males were more likely to use another drug, and more likely to be hospitalized. However, many characteristics and behaviors of MA use are similar for males and females, including the route, the dose and duration of MA use, and relapse status.
Conclusion: Although there were some male-female similarities in MA use parameters, significant differences do exist that may have implications for gender-specific research as well as for prevention and treatment strategies.
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