University of Texas at Austin Researcher Receives $418,000 Grant from National Institute on Drug Abuse to Study Methamphetamine Use in Austin

Dr. Jane Maxwell of The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work has received a two-year $418,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to monitor the changing methamphetamine market in the Austin area.

Maxwell will survey active drugs users about their patterns of use, reasons for using and their sources of drugs in Austin. The research will help explain the relationship between the supply of a drug and the demands of its users.

"In the last three years, methamphetamine has gone from being imported "Ice" to locally-produced powder, which is inhaled or injected," said Maxwell, a senior research scientist who specializes in national and international trends and patterns of substance abuse, particularly on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The findings from the study will help us understand the demand for methamphetamine based on use of the different forms of the drug. How do the changes in the drug market and supply of drugs influence the behavior of users as the supply shifts from imported 'Ice' back to locally-produced powder?"

The research also will look at the user's patterns of risky behavior, socio-economic make-up, severity of dependence on the drug, relationship between the use of the drug and criminal activity, and the risks and treatment needs perceived by users.

"Although the precursor laws in the U.S. and Mexico have decreased the number of large laboratories producing large quantities of the drug, we are beginning to see increases in the number of very small local laboratories," said Maxwell.  "The trends are worrisome. We need more prevention, intervention and treatment services."

Maxwell is one of 21 epidemiologists in the country who report substance abuse trends for a group established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Community Epidemiology Work Group is a resource for human service agencies trying to figure out what new substance abuse problems are emerging and what services are needed.

Among her previous projects was a study on methamphetamine use by long-distance truck drivers in Australia, which was funded by the Fulbright Scholar Program.