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What evidence is there that the UK should tackle the potential emerging threat of methamphetamine to

What evidence is there that the UK should tackle the potential emerging threat of methamphetamine to

  1. ThirdEyeFloond
    QJM 2008 101(3):207-213; doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcm133

    D.M. Wood, J. Button, T. Ashraf, S. Walker, S.L. Greene, N. Drake, J. Ramsey, D.W. Holt and P.I. Dargan

    Background: There is increasing interest in whether methamphetamine is an emerging recreational drug in the UK.

    Aim: To determine what evidence is there that methamphetamine use is an emerging drug in the UK compared to established recreational drugs such as MDMA.

    Design and methods: We undertook a retrospective study collating data on the number of enquiries to both our poisons centre and the UK National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) relating to all recreational drugs, methamphetamine and MDMA; presentations to our Emergency Department (ED) with acute methamphetamine toxicity and the frequency of positive urine tests for methamphetamine and MDMA in workplace drug screening programmes.

    Results: There was a small increase in the number of methamphetamine-related calls to our poisons centre, but it remained uncommon (0.1% of all recreational drugs cases in 2000 to 1.23% in 2006) compared to MDMA (17.3–42.7% of all recreational drugs cases). The number of 2005/6 enquiries to the UK NPIS for methamphetamine was 12, compared to 455 MDMA enquiries (0.014 and 0.52% of all enquiries, respectively). There were five presentations to our ED relating to methamphetamine over a 15-month period compared to 171 for MDMA. Of the 254 440 urine samples screened for the presence of drugs in the workplace (2000–06), three were positive for methamphetamine and 147 for MDMA.

    Conclusion: There is no evidence of increasing use of methamphetamine or that acute methamphetamine poisoning is a significant clinical problem compared to established recreational drugs such as MDMA. In our opinion, healthcare, educational and law enforcement resources should be proportionally directed towards tackling drugs that pose an immediate and continuing healthcare risk to the population rather than emerging recreational drugs.