Title

Physical Health, Illicit Drug Use, and Demographic Characteristics in Rural Stimulant Users

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Abstract

CONTEXT:

There is growing concern about illicit rural stimulant use, especially regarding methamphetamine use and its health consequences.

PURPOSE:

The present study describes associations between aspects of stimulant use and illness experience in rural areas, with additional focus on the role of demographic characteristics in these associations.

METHODS:

The research participants were 710 stimulant drug users who were recruited from rural areas of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ohio using Heckathorn's respondent-driven sampling method. Health was measured by self-reports of perceived health and extent of current, recent, and lifelong health problems. Drug use was measured with self-reports of type and frequency of use.

FINDINGS:

Several associations were found between drug use and illness, controlling for demographics. Stimulant use pattern related significantly with the sum of health problems in the previous 6 months and the sum of lifetime illness diagnoses, after adjustment for demographic factors. Extent of illicit drug use in the past month and self-perceived drug and alcohol problems were associated with several measures of health.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this sample of stimulant users, methamphetamine use was associated with fewer recent medical problems than crack cocaine, combined crack and powder cocaine use, and use of all 3 of these stimulants. These results, across the 3 sites, suggest that prevalent assumptions about the methamphetamine "plague" and its negative health consequences must be viewed cautiously and examined with additional research.

DOI

10.1111/j.1748-0361.2007.00076.x