A qualitative examination of recent increases in methamphetamine use in a cohort of rural people who use drugs

Elizabeth R. Hansen, Shelby Carvalho, Madelyn McDonald, Jennifer R. Havens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rising rates of methamphetamine use among populations using opioids is an escalating public health concern. The purpose of this manuscript is to identify socioecologic factors driving increases in methamphetamine use among Appalachian Kentucky adults with a history of opioid use. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted among 20 Appalachian Kentuckians in the Social Network of Appalachian Peoples (SNAP) cohort who reported lifetime opioid use and past 30-day methamphetamine use. Interviews focused on initiation of methamphetamine use, factors that influence methamphetamine use at the individual, interpersonal, community and society levels. Results: Participants reported using methamphetamine to self-treat underlying issues, including withdrawal from opioids, chronic pain, and emotional distress. Initiation of use was most often facilitated through their drug networks. Participants reported that methamphetamine was widely available and affordable in their community. Several participants with extensive histories of non-medical prescription opioid (NMPO) use described transitioning to methamphetamine as their drug of choice as opioids became less available in their community. Participants also reported economic distress and lack of recreational opportunities as drivers of increased methamphetamine use. Discussion: Recent increases in methamphetamine use among those with a history of opioid use is facilitated by methamphetamine's relative availability and affordability. Methamphetamine use was also highly influenced by societal factors such as economic deprivation and policies that decreased availability of NMPOs. Surging methamphetamine use exacerbates inequities in addiction care brought to light by the opioid epidemic. Interventions aimed at addressing the socioecological drivers of methamphetamine use among people who use opioids are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109145
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Appalachia
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opioid
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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