A University of Iowa study that looked at people who go to drug treatment facilities for abuse of stimulants like methamphetamine and prescription drugs showed a much higher use by whites than blacks. Dr. Tracy Gunter is one of the researchers. She says 79-percent were Caucasian, as compared to 59 percent Caucasians among those who were not using stimulants, but used other drugs. Gunter says just three percent of the people who said they used stimulants were African-American, compared to 27 percent who sought treatment for non-stimulant addiction.
Gunter says there are a lot of theories as to why whites are more likely to use stimulants. Gunter says Caucasians may abuse more because of better health care access, and she says there are as many reasons as there are people abusing the substances. Gunter says it could also be a socioeconomic issue that reflects Iowa’s 90-percent white population. The study found stimulant users were between the ages of 21 and 34-years-old.
Gunter says the number of women users raises some questions about the impact on kids and families. Gunter says they found that 43-percent of the people who used stimulants were women, compared to 29-percent women who were being treated but didn’t use the stimulants. Gunter says there are many reasons given for women who use stimulants. She says many of them involve trying to cope with pressures in their life.
Gunter says they may be used to try and stay awake at night after the birth of children, or with changes in job responsibilities. Gunter says stimulant use by women can also be linked to attempts to control their weight. Gunter, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry, says one thing the study shows her is the need for more screening of people to identify problems with stimulants early on.
Gunter says the study seems to indicate that young Caucasian women of child-bearing age who may be high school graduates or above may be abusing the substances and need to be asked about it. Gunter says it’s a part of the population that had not been screened regularly for substance abuse disorders, particularly stimulants. Gunter says more has been done in screening this group for alcohol and smoking than other types of drug use. Gunter says one of the most alarming things is the reason the people sought treatment.
Gunter says almost half of the people in the survey were coming for treatment because they were in the criminal justice system. She says they sought treatment because they were forced by an arrest. Gunter says the medical community needs to learn how to educate the younger community more about stimulant abuse too as part of the overall education effort. And she says it takes more than a 15-minute talk to screen people