INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Limited research has investigated methamphetamine use and related harms in rural and regional Australia. We investigated whether people who used methamphetamine in non-metropolitan Victoria differed in their sociodemographics and were more likely to be methamphetamine-dependent than those recruited in Melbourne.
DESIGN AND METHODS: We used baseline data from an ongoing prospective cohort study, 'VMAX'. Participants were recruited from Melbourne and three non-metropolitan Victorian regions. Sequential multivariable logistic regression of nested models assessed unadjusted and adjusted associations between residential locations and methamphetamine dependence.
RESULTS: The sample mostly (77%) comprised people who used methamphetamine via non-injecting means (N = 744). Thirty-nine percent were female. Melbourne-based participants were less likely than non-metropolitan participants to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, be heterosexual, have children and be unemployed. More frequent methamphetamine use (adjusted odds ratio 1.22, 95% confidence interval 1.12-1.34) and using crystal methamphetamine versus 'speed' powder (adjusted odds ratio 2.38, 95% confidence interval 1.26-3.64) were independently (P < 0.05) associated with being classified as methamphetamine-dependent. A significantly higher percentage of participants in every non-metropolitan region were classified as methamphetamine-dependent vs. those in Melbourne, but this relationship was attenuated when adjusting for methamphetamine use frequency and primary form used. Despite 65% of participants being classified as methamphetamine-dependent, less than half had recently (past year) accessed any professional support for methamphetamine, with minimal variation by recruitment location.
DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS: VMAX participants in non-metropolitan Victoria were more likely to be methamphetamine-dependent than those living in Melbourne. Unmet need for professional support appears to exist among people using methamphetamine across the state, regardless of geographical location.