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Drugs: Methamphetamine

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the incidence of illegal drug abuse in the United Kingdom using methamphetamine in each of the years 2001 to 2005; what is the addictive nature of this drug; and what is the incidence of recovery from such addiction.[HL6581]

Information is not collected centrally in the form requested.

The 2005 survey Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking Among Young People in England in 2005 reported that 1 per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds had taken speed or amphetamines, the category of drug in which methamphetamine use would be reported, in the last year.1 It is important to note that within this figure will be a number of other drugs within the amphetamine category.

The national drug treatment monitoring system, which is used to measure numbers in, and being retained in, drug treatment, reported 11 individuals as being in treatment, with methamphetamine identified as the primary drug of use, in 2005-06.

On 14 June this year, the Home Office Minister (Mr Vernon Coaker), announced that methamphetamine, or “crystal meth”, would be reclassified from a class B drug to a class A drug. This decision was based on international experience and has been taken on the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and the well documented dangers associated with production and use of this drug in all its forms, which will now be substantially easier to combat as a result of this reclassification.

Over the past few years there has been a substantial increase in the illicit use of methamphetamine in the Far East, parts of Europe and north America, but so far there has been relatively little evidence of misuse in the United Kingdom. While some seizures have been made, there is no evidence of large-scale use or demand for treatment.

Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that has potent effects on the central nervous system. It can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or injected to achieve a “high”. Using methamphetamine by intravenous injecting or by smoking is particularly liable to lead to addiction. We do not hold information on the incidence of recovery from such addiction.

1 A survey carried out for the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Home Office by the National Centre for Social Research and the National Foundation for Educational Research. More than 9,000 pupils took part in the survey throughout England.