Global patterns of methamphetamine use

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;28(4):269-74. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000168.


Purpose of review: As the most popular psychostimulant in the world, methamphetamine use has reached epidemic proportions. Its enormous popularity has created subcultures of methamphetamine users all over the globe. The purpose of this review is to describe the geographic availability of different types of methamphetamine, the characteristics of each user population, and the psychosocial impact the two have on society.

Recent findings: Methamphetamine has diversified immensely from the early days of its use. Different forms of methamphetamine - ICE, powder, and pills - have different pharmacokinetic characteristics that make them popular among certain types of users. New studies have shown that addiction to methamphetamine results in a very characteristic loss of inhibition that augments various risk-taking behaviors in its users. Also, recent seizure data suggest that its production and trafficking is spreading into new areas of the globe.

Summary: From recreational use to addiction, methamphetamine use represents a serious risk to health and wellbeing of the community. Recognizing the pattern of abuse in specific populations is the key to assessing the risk, implementing prevention, and harm reduction measures, as well as making public policies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Trafficking / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / administration & dosage*
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacokinetics
  • Risk
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Workers
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Syphilis / transmission
  • Unsafe Sex*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methamphetamine