Monitoring the Changing Methamphetmaine Market in the Austin Area
Principal Investigator: Jane Maxwell, Ph.D.
Sponsor: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health
This exploratory/developmental grant proposal will test the ability of an epidemiological tool to survey active drug users about their patterns of use and the drug markets in the Austin , Texas metropolitan area. This tool will help explain the relationship between the supply of a drug and the demand of the users. Because of the changes in the drug market as imported Ice, which is smoked, replaces the locally-produced powder which is inhaled or injected, methamphetamine was chosen to test this proposed tool. The aims and primary research questions to be investigated are (1) To understand the demand for methamphetamine based on use of the different forms of the drug; (2) To understand how the differences and changes in the drug market and supply of drugs influences the behavior of users as the supply shifts between locally-produced and imported powder and “Ice”; (3) To define socio-economic typologies that differentiate users according to the type of drugs used, reasons for use, sources of their drugs, and characteristics of the users who frequent different markets. The findings from the study will help us understand how trends in drug use are influenced by changes in the drug market and how supply affects the demand for drugs. It will provide information about the types and forms of the drug that are available, the profiles of those who use the different varieties, the routes of administration, patterns of risky behavior, severity of dependence, the relationship between use of the drug and criminal activity, sources of the drug, the current and emerging drug markets, perceived purity and diluents, and the risks and treatment needs perceived by users, as well as the problems and needs seen by key informants who come into contact with drug users.
The project will interview 500 active methamphetamine users using Respondent Driven Sampling to reach a hidden population. It will also interview 30 key informants who come into contact with methamphetamine users as a result of their jobs. The "leading" findings of the interviews with users and key informants will be combined with "lagging" data on adverse events such as poison control center calls, emergency room episodes, treatment admissions, and deaths. These findings will not only provide in-depth information about current methamphetamine use, but they will test the value of this proposed system as an epidemiological tool to monitor drug trends.
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