Epidemiological trends and the advances of treatments of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in China

Am J Addict. May-Jun 2014;23(3):313-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2014.12116.x.


Background and objectives: Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) have quickly spread and been widely abused in many parts of the world, particularly in China. This review focuses on and describes the epidemiological trends and the advances of treatments of ATS in China.

Methods: A descriptive study based on literature identified from searches of the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (1979-2013), PubMed databases, hand-picked references, and online references with emphasis on epidemiology, treatment and traditional Chinese medicine. This review covers some traditional Chinese treatments and their complementary Western approaches.

Results and conclusions: The epidemiological trends of ATS in China have led to its being 2.2 times the rate of morphine abuse and second only to marijuana abuse. The treatment programs in China have used traditional herbal approaches as well as acupuncture, often in combination with Western medications such as fluoxetine for depression associated with ATS abuse. Other herbal treatments have reversed the cardiac arrhythmias associated with ATS intoxication, and acupuncture has been used successfully for the protracted depressive and somatic symptoms of ATS withdrawal over a period of 3 months.

Scientific significance: These traditional Chinese treatments may be increasingly available to the world, but will remain a consistent complementary therapy for ATS in China and the Far East, where ATS has become such a prevalent problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Animals
  • China / epidemiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Fluoxetine