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Health Conditions in Methamphetamine-Dependent Adults 3 Years After Treatment

Mooney, Larissa J. MD; Glasner-Edwards, Suzette PhD; Marinelli-Casey, Patricia PhD; Hillhouse, Maureen PhD; Ang, Alfonso PhD; Hunter, Jeremy MA; Haning, William MD; Colescott, Paula MD; Ling, Walter MD; Rawson, Richard PhD

doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181a17c79
Original Article

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.

From the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (L.J.M., S.G.-E., P.M.-C., M.H., J.H., W.L., R.R.), Los Angeles, CA; University of California School of Medicine (A.A.), Los Angeles, CA; and University of Hawaii School of Medicine (W.H., P.C.), Honolulu, HI.

Received for publication August 1, 2008; accepted February 17, 2009.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Larissa J. Mooney, MD, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, 1640 S. Sepulveda Boulevard., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90025. e-mail:

Supported by the Methamphetamine Abuse Treatment—Special Studies (MAT-SS) contract 270-01-7089 and grants numbers TI 11440-01, TI 11427-01, TI 11425-01, TI 11443-01, TI 11484-01, TI 11441-01, TI 11410-01, and TI 11411-01, provided by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), US Department of Heath and Human Services.

The opinions expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the government.

© 2009 American Society of Addiction Medicine