Amphetamine use in the Fourth Decade of Life

A new report from 2000 Stories – Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study (VAHCS) indicates that almost one in four Australians in their mid-30s have used amphetamines at some point: one in 15 reported still using amphetamines. Amphetamine use was linked with social and financial disadvantage, poor mental health and other drug use.

The paper was led by Professor Peter Butterworth from Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne in collaboration with the Centre for Adolescent Health’s George Patton and Denise Becker. It analysed data from 1,435 participants when they were 35 years old.

The paper reported that:
• 23% reported lifetime use of amphetamines
• 7% were identified as currently (over the past 12 months) using amphetamines
• 17% reported lifetime but not current amphetamine use
• 2% (26% of current users) reported frequent amphetamine use (weekly or more)
• 8% of current users were likely to be amphetamine dependent
• Men were more likely than women to report prior, current and frequent amphetamine use

Both past and current amphetamine use was found to be associated with history of divorce/separation and financial hardship. Current but not prior use was also linked with unemployment, living alone and vocational or year 12 (versus tertiary) levels of educational attainment.

Participants with anxiety or depressive disorders, or mental health service use were more likely to be current in frequent users.

Smoking, risky alcohol consumption, 12-month use of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, and cannabis and alcohol dependence were all more common in current and, to a lesser extent, prior amphetamine users.

This study suggests that of amphetamine use in the 4th decade is much commoner than previously thought, based on figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Drug Strategy Household Surveys.

Read the full research report.

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