Majority of Meth Users Start As Teenagers, Study Says

By Paul Gaita 03/14/14

According to the study, users started their habit between the ages of 16 and 20, with some users being younger when first trying the drug.

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A study commissioned by the German government about crystal meth use discovered that children and young adults between the ages of 11 and 15 have tried the drug.

The study, conducted by the Hamburg Interdisciplinary Center for Addiction Research, asked 400 users to cite their reasons for taking crystal meth. One-third of the participants stated that stress from school or studies had spurred them to experiment. A fifth of those individuals stated that they were 15 years or age or younger when they first tried the drug, with one user stating that they began at the age of eleven. The study showed that a majority of users had their first experience with meth between the ages of 16 and 20, with the latter being the average age for regular users.

Meth use in Germany has skyrocketed in the last year, with 3,500 cases of possession or use cited across the country in 2012 – eight times as many as in 2006. Government and law officials point to the German-Czech border as the entry point for the wave of meth inundating the country; an estimated six tons of meth are produced in the Czech Republic every year.

Though the study cites teenagers and young adults as the primary age demographic for users, meth also remains popular among adults who experience high levels of stress. The study showed that parents and especially new mothers are a high-risk group for meth addiction, as are factory and office workers with heavy workloads and time constraints.

While social, economic, and geographical issues have all contributed to Germany’s meth problem, Dr. Roland Härtel-Petri, an addiction specialist and author, places part of the blame on the television series “Breaking Bad” for glamorizing this “shitty, idiotic” substance.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.