11.17.2022 | News Release

Methamphetamine (meth) use among adult male arrestees in the San Diego region is at a 22-year high, according to a new SANDAG report, 2021 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees. Meth use for adult males increased to 58% in 2021 compared to 28% in 2000.

The report also finds that meth use among adult females and juveniles decreased. Juveniles who tested positive for meth decreased to 3% in 2021, a 22-year low. Adult females also saw a decrease to 44% in 2021, compared to 53% in 2020.

Despite regional efforts to combat meth use, the report shows that meth continues to be readily available with high purity and potency in the United States. “Even though we saw a decrease in meth use in the younger population, the demand for meth increased,” said SANDAG Senior Director of Data Science Dr. Cynthia Burke. “Many individuals report they started using it because their friends were using or they were experimenting, but they are using it now because they are addicted. We hope these data highlight the continued need for education, treatment, and interventions.”

When asked about the frequency of their use, those interviewed reported that on average they used meth nine times a day, 18 days in a row.

Other notable findings include:

  • 54% of those employed or enrolled in school reported using meth before going to work or school
  • 81% usually smoked it (alone or with another drug)
  • 52% said the price was lower compared to the previous year

The 2021 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees report is part of SANDAG’s Substance Abuse Monitoring program in which adult and juvenile arrestees are interviewed about their drug use and other risky behavior. SANDAG has been conducting and collecting this data since 1987.

For this report, interviews were conducted with 227 male arrestees at Central Jail, 80 females from Las Colinas, and 55 juveniles at Juvenile Hall and the San Diego Achievement Centers.

View the CJ Brief: 2021 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees 

View SANDAG’s Substance Abuse Monitoring Program and supplemental data regarding the breakdown of meth use for San Diego County Arrestees and other related reports.