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More Meth Abusers Seek Treatment

The number of people seeking treatment for methamphetamine abuse more than quadrupled from 1993 to 2003, a report released Thursday said.

States in the Midwest and South that had few meth abuse patients a decade ago are now seeing a sharp rise in the rate of admissions to treatment centers, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The report's findings mirror the trend of meth abuse moving gradually from the West — where the highly addictive drug first became popular — across the Midwest and South to the East Coast.

"Methamphetamine is undeniably a uniquely destructive drug," said the agency's administrator Charles Curie. "As this new analysis of data shows, many states continue to see a dramatic increase in the numbers of methamphetamine users in treatment programs."

The report was released hours before the Senate was expected to pass major anti-meth legislation as part of the bill renewing the anti-terror Patriot Act.

Common cold remedies that can be used by drug dealers to make meth would be forced behind store counters under the congressional measure. Law enforcement officials have said the federal restrictions are critical to helping eliminate meth labs and curb abuse in neighborhoods around the country.

Nationwide, the admission rate for treatment of methamphetamine or amphetamine abuse rose from 28,000 in 1993 to nearly 136,000 patients in 2003, the report said.

The report analyzed data on the approximately 1.8 million patients admitted each year for substance abuse treatment.

While the report discusses treatment for both methamphetamine and amphetamines, it said meth was the primary drug of abuse in 86 percent of admissions for all types of amphetamines in 2003. Only three of the states surveyed did not distinguish between those drugs when collecting data.

The report found 18 states with meth treatment rates higher than the national rate: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Northeastern states had relatively low rates of treatment admissions for meth and amphetamine abuse in 1993 and those rates remained low in 2003, the report said.
By Sam Hananel