Study: Meth use rebounding in county

SAN DIEGO - Methamphetamine use climbed among people booked into San Diego jails in 2012, compared to the year before, the San Diego Association of Governments announced Monday.

A SANDAG study found that 47 percent of women and 31 percent of men who get arrested last year tested positive for the drug, compared to 39 percent and 26 percent, respectively, in 2011.

The rate of positive tests among juveniles stayed steady at 4 percent.

"Despite exemplary, collaborative efforts such as the Methamphetamine Strike Force, meth use remains a chronic problem in our region," SANDAG Director of Criminal Justice Research Cynthia Burke said.

"While some progress has been made, law enforcement agencies, emergency rooms and public drug treatment programs continue to have to pour valuable resources into tackling the problem," she said.

Meth is often an underlying factor in family violence, child abuse and neglect, work problems, and high-risk behaviors like driving under the influence, according to Burke.

The study found that meth users were more likely than others to drive and go to work while under the influence of the drug. Also, the typical adult arrestee who tested positive has been using the drug for about 13 years on average -- usually smoking it, but sometimes snorting or injecting it about three times a day, five days in a row.

Negative effects associated with meth use include hallucinations, violent behavior, paranoia, sleeplessness, weight loss, dental and skin problems, and legal, financial, and family troubles, according to SANDAG.

People who suspect a loved one is using meth and needs help can call the San Diego County Access and Crisis line, (888) 724-7240. People can report meth-related criminal activities by calling 1-877-NO-2-METH.

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