An exploration of self-perceived non-problematic use as a barrier to professional support for methamphetamine users

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Methamphetamine use is a significant public health concern (McKetin Lubman, 2011), yet rates of treatment utilisation and retention among primary methamphetamine users remain low. For example, despite the most recent estimates of dependent methamphetamine users in Australia (over 70,000) (McKetin, McLaren, Kelly, Hall, Hickman, 2005) being higher than comparative estimates of dependent heroin users ( 45,000) (Degenhardt, Rendle, Hall, Gilmour, Law, 2004), the number of heroin users in treatment around that time was much greater (AIHW, 2006). This discrepancy suggests a substantially lower rate of methamphetamine treatment coverage in comparison to opioid treatment (McKetin, McLaren, Kelly, 2005), potentially underpinned by factors such as treatment availability, utilisation thresholds and self-perceptions of need. One key barrier to service utilisation among methamphetamine users could be low levels of motivation and perceived need for professional support. Despite being a common characteristic of participants recruited into studies of methamphetamine use (e.g., Falck et al., 2007 and Hando et al., 1997, our understanding of perceived need as a barrier to methamphetamine treatment utilisation is limited. We need to understand whether user perceptions of their non-problematic (i.e., less harmful) methamphetamine use correspond with actual patterns of use and reduced experience of harms that act to legitimise the avoidance of professional support. Vincent, Shoobridge, Ask, Allsop and Ali (1999) touched on this issue in the late 1990s, reporting that participants with a perceived need for treatment had comparable demographic and drug use characteristics to those without perceived need but were more likely to report mental health problems since commencing amphetamine use. Further work is needed to characterise users experiencing unmet or unrecognised need who are not in contact with ? but might benefit from ? professional support to improve kn
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619 - 623
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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