Meth hospitalizations are increasing more rapidly than other substances in the US, particularly in the West

The increasing rate of hospitalizations involving methamphetamine has developed more rapidly than that for other substances, leading to great concern across the United States, particularly in the western states (Winkleman 2018).

Meth hospitalizations increased and remains high in LAC

In LAC from 2005 to 2018, there were 156,345 hospitalizations that listed any methamphetamine abuse, dependence, use, or poisoning as a diagnosis or external-cause-of-injury (methamphetamine-related). Methamphetamine-related hospitalizations increased 174% from 2005 to 2018. By 2018, the annual total for methamphetamine-related hospitalizations reached 20,141 cases (Figure 1).

A total of 8,844 hospitalizations, listed methamphetamine abuse, dependence, use, or poisoning as the principal diagnosis or principal external-cause-of-injury (primary). Primary methamphetamine hospitalizations increased 118% from 2005 to 2018. By 2018, the annual total for primary methamphetamine hospitalizations reached 1,168 cases (Figure 2).

Meth-related: Any mention of meth abuse, dependence, use, or poisoning as a diagnosis or external-cause-of-injury mentioned on discharge record

Primary meth: Meth abuse, dependence, use, or poisoning as the principal diagnosis or principal external-cause-of-injury on the discharge record.

Diagnosis Type

From 2016 to 2018, the most frequently reported diagnosis for methamphetamine-related hospitalizations was methamphetamine abuse (63.6%), followed by methamphetamine dependence (20.3%), methamphetamine use (14.9%), and methamphetamine poisoning (3.2%) (Figure 3). 

Diagnosis type for primary methamphetamine hospitalizations differed from that for all methamphetamine-related hospitalizations. Poisoning (33.6%) accounted for a much larger proportion. More were hospitalized for dependence (38.0%), and fewer were hospitalized for abuse (37.7%) and use (10.1%) (Figure 4).



Males accounted for two-thirds (67%) of methamphetamine-related hospitalizations from 2005-2018. These proportions have remained consistent over the years with small increases among men (Figures 5-6). This  gender distribution was similarly observed for primary methamphetamine-related cases (Figures 7-8). 


Methamphetamine hospitalizations were largely comprised of patients aged 25-44 years, followed by those aged 45-64 years (Figure 9). The number of methamphetamine-related hospitalizations increased substantially from 2008-2018 for all age groups, except youth aged 12-17 years which decreased. Older adults aged 65+ had the largest increase (1,021%) in the number of methamphetamine-related hospitalizations from 2008-2018, followed by children aged 0-11 years (238%), adults aged 45-64 years (399%), adults aged 25-44 years (156%), and young adults aged 18-24 years (47%) (Figure 10).

These age distribution patterns were also observed for primary methamphetamine hospitalizations (Figures 11-12). 


Overall, Latinxs (41%) accounted for the largest proportion of methamphetamine-related hospitalizations followed closely by whites (39%) then blacks (13%) (Figure 13). 

Methamphetamine-related hospitalizations were more frequent among whites between 2005 (47%) and 2011 (43%). In 2014, Latinxs surpassed whites and accounted for the highest proportion of hospitalizations thereafter. The proportions among blacks increased from 9% in 2005 to 16% in 2018 (Figure 14). Primary methamphetamine hospitalizations also followed these general patterns (Figures 15-16). 

Economic Burden

Hospital Days

Patients with a methamphetamine-related condition stayed in the hospital for an average of 6.1 days. During 2005-2018, methamphetamine-related hospitalizations accounted for 947,032 hospital days.

Patients who were hospitalized for primary methamphetamine conditions stayed on average of 6.8 days. Primary methamphetamine hospitalizations accounted for 60,430 hospital days during 2005-2018.

Hospital Spending

The mean hospital charge for methamphetamine-related hospitalizations was $42,656 in 2005-2018, and increased 61% from 2005 to 2018 (adjusted for inflation to 2018 US dollars). The annual methamphetamine-related hospital spending increased 342% from about $238 million in 2005 to over $1 billion in 2018 (Figure 17).

For primary methamphetamine hospitalizations, the mean hospital charge for 2005-2018 was $34,292, and increased 58% during this period. Total spending for primary methamphetamine hospitalizations increased considerably after 2015 (Figure 18).


Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), 2005-2018. California Department of Public Health. 

Winkelman, T. N., Admon, L. K., Jennings, L., Shippee, N. D., Richardson, C. R., & Bart, G. (2018). Evaluation of amphetamine-related hospitalizations and associated clinical outcomes and costs in the United States. JAMA network open, 1(6), e183758-e183758.