Letter from the Director

The abuse of methamphetamine - a potent and highly addictive psychostimulant - is a very serious problem in the United States. Initially limited to Hawaii and western parts of the country, methamphetamine abuse continues to spread eastward, with rural and urban areas everywhere increasingly affected. According to one national survey, approximately 10 million people in the United States have tried methamphetamine at least once.

Methamphetamine abuse leads to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Adverse health effects include memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition, and severe dental problems. Methamphetamine abuse also contributes to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills.

The good news is that methamphetamine abuse can be prevented and methamphetamine addiction can be treated. People do recover, but only when effective treatments that address the multitude of problems resulting from methamphetamine abuse are readily available. Primary goals of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are to apply what our scientists learn from drug abuse research to develop new and enhance existing treatment approaches and to bring these effective treatments to the communities that need them.

In this report, we provide an overview of the latest scientific findings on methamphetamine. Our intent is to enlighten readers about the damaging effects of methamphetamine abuse and to inform prevention and treatment efforts.

Nora D.Volkow, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse

This page was last updated September 2006