Designer Drugs: Usage trends

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:02 pm

Designer drug use is most common among young adults and is most commonly associated with large-scale dance events, nightclubs, and raves. The 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found an estimated 1.5% (3.4 million) of Americans had used MDMA at least once during their lifetime. The heaviest use (5% or 1.4 million people) was reported for those between 18 and 25 years old.
During 2000,4% of the U.S. population (8.8 million people) said they had tried methamphetamine in their lifetime. The age demographic skews slightly older, with highest rate of methamphetamine use reported by adults 26 or older (4.3% of these adults report at least trying methamphetamine in 2000). Of those between the ages of 18 to 25, 4.1% reported lifetime use and, for those between the ages of 12 and 17, 1.3% reported lifetime use of methamphetamine. The number of methamphetamine emergency room treatment admissions in the United States has been climbing steadily and alarmingly, from 14,496 admissions in 1992 to 53,560 in 1997 and 57,834 in 1999.
GHB use appears to be increasing alongside its wider availability, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Emergency room admissions tracked by the organization find mentions of GHB have risen dramatically since the mid-1990s from just 56 in 1994 to 4,969 in 2000. Although ketamine use has remained steady over the same period, hospital data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest the 18-25 age group still accounts for 58% of all ketamine-related incidents.
Use of PCP increased between 1991 and 1996, at which time levels began to drop. Although levels of use remain relatively low, they are higher than in the early 1990s. DAWN estimates 6,510 emergency room visits in 1995 secondary to PCP use (or PCP in combination with another chemical/drug), up from 3,470 in 1991. As of 2000, approximately 5.8 million individuals aged 12 and older had used PCP at least once in their lifetime; most of these users were adults over 18 years of age.
From 1999 to 2000, the use of MDMA among high school-aged teens increased in every measured grade — eighth, tenth, and twelfth. For tenth and twelfth graders, this is the second consecutive year MDMA use has increased. Past year use of MDMA increased among eighth graders from 1.7% in 1999 to 3.1% in 2000; from 4.4% to 5.4% among tenth graders; and from 5.6% to 8.2% among high school seniors. The perceived availability of MDMA also rose sharply, from 40.1% in 1999 to 51.4% in 2000.
Reports on the use of 2C-B are sporadic, but growing in number, leading law enforcement to believe that it could emerge as a significant drug in rave culture. The DEA reports a number of significant arrests throughout the United States. Information compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that 2C-B has become popular for recreational use in Germany and Switzerland. Clandestine manufacture has been reported in the Netherlands. The drug is reportedly making an appearance at dance clubs in the Washington, D.C. area.

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