Objectives: Medical conditions in methamphetamine (MA) users have not been well characterized. Using both self-report and physical examination data, the aims of this study were to (1) describe the frequency of medical conditions in a sample of MA users 3 years posttreatment; (2) evaluate the association between medical conditions and MA use frequency; and (3) examine the relationship of route of administration with medical outcomes.
Methods: MA-dependent adults (N = 301) who participated in the Methamphetamine Treatment Project were interviewed and examined 3 years after treatment. Medical, demographic, and substance use characteristics were assessed using the Addiction Severity Index and Life Experiences Timeline. Current and lifetime medical conditions, electrocardiogram characteristics, and physical examination abnormalities were assessed.
Results: Among the most frequently reported lifetime conditions were wounds and burns (40.5%, N = 122) and severe dental problems (33%, N = 99), and a significant proportion of the sample evidenced prolonged corrected QT interval (19.6%, N = 43). Although health conditions were not associated with MA use frequency during follow-up, intravenous MA use was significantly associated with missing teeth (odds ratio = 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–4.7) and hepatitis C antibodies (odds ratio = 13.1; confidence interval, 5.6–30.1).
Conclusion: In this sample of MA users, dental problems and corrected QT prolongation were observed at elevated rates. Although posttreatment MA use frequency was not associated with a majority of medical outcomes, intravenous MA use exacerbated risk for dental pathology and hepatitis C. Longer term follow-up research is needed to elucidate health trajectories of MA users.