This file is provided for reference purposes only. It was current when produced, but is no longer maintained and may now be outdated. Please send an email for questions or for further information.
TUESDAY, MAY 17, 1999202/307-0703


Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Portland and Phoenix

SAN DIEGO, CA - The production and use patterns for methamphetamine are different from those of other illegal drugs and, as a result, different policies for prevention, intervention and control strategies need to be developed, according to a new Justice Department study. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study, Meth Matters: Report on Methamphetamine Users in Five Western Cities, outlines use of the drug in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Portland, Oregon and Phoenix. The report was released Tuesday in San Diego during the two-day meeting of the Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force. Recommendations for augmenting new and expanding current approaches in dealing with the drug will be forwarded to the Attorney General.

According to the report, meth users are significantly less likely than other drug arrestees to be charged with a violent offense, about 40 percent of the adult meth users were charged with a drug or alcohol violation. The data, collected as part of NIJ's Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, indicates about 25 percent were booked for a property offense and 16 percent were arrested for violent behavior. The proportion of offenders with charges involving violence ranged from 8 percent in Phoenix to 35 percent in Los Angeles.

The NIJ study indicates that non-meth arrestees were significantly more likely to be arrested for a violent offense, contrary to a common perception that associates methamphetamine with violent behavior. However, meth users were more likely than other arrestees to have been both arrested and incarcerated previously.

The majority of meth users in the study were white, ranging from 54 percent in San Jose to 94 percent in Portland. However, in some of the sites, the proportion of Hispanics testing positive for meth has seen an increase. For example, in Los Angeles, Hispanics represented 57 percent of the meth users. Meth used by African-Americans was relatively low based on testing results, ranging from 1 percent in Phoenix to 11 percent in San Diego. One third of adult meth users were women.

The average age of meth users was 30, slightly younger than the age of cocaine and heroin users in a 1997 study. Of the sample of juveniles in the five cities, Hispanics youth constituted 47 percent and whites 41 percent of the users.

The report also indicates that meth users had higher rates of overall drug use than did the total sample of ADAM arrestees. For the 12-month period in which the interviews were conducted, significantly more than half (65 percent) of the ADAM arrestees had positive test results for some illegal drug, ranging from 53 percent in San Jose to 74 percent in Portland and San Diego. For the meth users, proportionate usage ranged from 80 percent positive for any drug in Phoenix to 95 percent in San Diego. A high proportion of meth users in all sites also tested positive for marijuana.

In Los Angeles, 30 percent of meth users also showed recent use of cocaine, as did 25 percent of those in Portland. Compared with other ADAM arrestees, meth users were significantly more likely to show recent use of multiple drugs.

The report indicates that features of the meth market suggest that meth trafficking patterns differ from those of other illegal drugs in ways that warrant different law enforcement approaches to address meth. Generally, meth is purchased at a residence and the majority of meth users report never having bought the drug from someone they did not know.

The NIJ report concludes that:

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the Department of Justice, is the primary sponsor of criminal justice research and evaluations of programs to reduce crime. For additional information about NIJ, the Internet address is

General information about the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is available at

The report is available on the Internet at, or from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) by calling toll-free, 1-800/851-3420.

For information on this report, contact the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.

# # #