Crystal methamphetamine use among young people entering custody: Prevalence, correlates and comorbidity.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Drug and Alcohol Review, 2021, 40, (7), pp. 1266-1274
Issue Date:
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Introduction and Aims Crystal methamphetamine (CM) is associated with a range of physical and mental health harms and may be of particular concern among young people at risk of early, problematic substance use, such as those in contact with the criminal justice system. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence and correlates of regular (i.e. at least weekly) CM use among young people preceding entry into custody. Design and Methods Data were collected from 207 participants aged 14–18 years as part of the 2015 Young People in Custody Health Survey, a cross-sectional survey of youth in custody in New South Wales, Australia. Participants were administered face-to-face structured interviews assessing sociodemographic, childhood and family characteristics, offending history, substance use and psychopathology. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors independently associated with regular CM use. Results Regular CM use was reported by 31% of participants and was independently associated with higher levels of antisocial traits/behaviour [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02, 1.25], increased polydrug use (AOR 1.34, 95% CI 1.14, 1.58), injecting drug use (AOR 4.06, 95% CI 1.02, 16.16) and meeting symptom thresholds for two or more current psychological disorders (AOR 3.20, 95% CI 1.15, 8.94). Discussion and Conclusions Regular CM users present with more complex comorbidity than other young people in custody, increasing the health-care burden in custodial and community settings. Early identification and appropriate treatment of this comorbidity is crucial to improving the health, psychosocial and behavioural outcomes of this vulnerable group.
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