Methamphetamine use, health and criminal justice system outcomes: A systematic review [2020]

Methamphetamine use is a problem for health and criminal justice systems (CJS) worldwide. Methamphetamine is used at higher rates in CJS‐involved populations than the general community. This systematic review synthesises the evidence for health and CJS outcomes post‐CJS contact for people reporting pre‐CJS methamphetamine use.

Academic databases were searched to identify peer‐reviewed original studies using a longitudinal design that investigated associations between pre‐CJS methamphetamine use and health and criminal justice outcomes after CJS contact. Identified studies were screened in two stages: title and abstract, then full‐text. Data from the included studies were extracted and analysed. Results are reported in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses statement.

Key Findings
Nine studies met the inclusion criteria: five investigated health and four investigated CJS outcomes. Pre‐CJS methamphetamine use was associated with subsequent hospitalisation for drug‐induced psychosis, increased risk of recidivism and higher crime costs after CJS contact. Pre‐CJS methamphetamine use was not associated with subsequent hospitalisation for non‐drug induced psychosis or post‐release mortality.

Current evidence suggests that pre‐CJS contact methamphetamine use increases the risk of subsequent drug‐induced psychosis and recidivism. There is a need for more longitudinal research that measures mediators and moderators of health and criminal justice outcomes after CJS contact, to inform targeted prevention.

Methamphetamine use is a major problem that is contributing to serious mental illness and recidivism among CJS‐involved populations. Prioritising treatment during CJS contact is recommended. Further research to identify key opportunities during health service and CJS contact for intervention is needed.

Craig Cumming LLB (Hons), PhD Candidate, Stuart A. Kinner PhD, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Rebecca McKetin PhD, Associate Professor, Ian Li PhD, Assistant Professor and Senior Lecturer, David Preen PhD, Chair in Public Health
Drug and Alcohol Review, 24 March 2020