Gender differences in initiation into methamphetamine use in a Mexico-U.S. border city

Amir Gerardo Hernandez, University of Texas at El Paso


BACKGROUND & SIGNIFICANCE: The literature indicates that there are gender differences in drug use patterns but there is minimal information available on initiation into methamphetamine (meth) use by gender, especially on the border region. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, Cd. Juarez and Tijuana have been described as being in a potential state of a meth outbreak due to drug trafficking, substance abuse, migration, violence, and poverty. AIMS & OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study are to describe current methamphetamine users in Cd. Juarez and their drug using behaviors and identify gender differences in their socio-demographic characteristics, initiation into meth use, recent meth use, and recent sexual risk behaviors. METHODS: This study is a secondary data analysis from a cross-sectional study that collected measures on meth use factors, cross-border mobility factors, and initiation into meth use. The total sample size was 150 current meth users in Cd. Juarez, MX. This study aims to describe characteristics of initiation into meth use, recent meth use, and recent sexual risk behaviors and assess gender differences. Mixed methods were used to quantify qualitative data and merge a quantitative data set and a qualitative data set. RESULTS: The sample population included 100 men, 49 women, and one transwoman with a mean age of 30.9 years of age. Regarding initiation into meth use, city (p=0.05) and the people present (p=0.011) during first time use of meth significantly differed by gender. For recent meth use (past 12 months), there were significant gender differences in the number of different people present when meth was used (p=0.001), obtaining meth in a hotel (p=0.043), from sexual partner (p=0.041) or in El Paso or other part of the U.S. (p=0.016). Other significant gender differences existed for meth use snorted by nose (p=0.012) and taken as tablet/pill (p=0.045), powder (p=0.009), or rock (p=0.006), as well as consuming meth with principal sex partner (p=0.007). CONCLUSIONS: Results yielded significant gender differences in the city at initiation into meth and people present at initiation. Other significant gender differences included the ways meth was recently used and people with whom meth is used and obtained. The results indicate that drug use within couples may influence substance abuse either at initiation or recent use. Other noticeable trends included a high frequency of meth use initiation in the club scene in Cd. Juarez. RECOMMENDATIONS: In this study, women were found to have acquired and used meth with their sex partner more often than men. Additionally, friends were more often than not both the means to acquire meth and the person that meth was consumed with. Therefore, behavioral intervention strategies through couples therapy would help alleviate substance related issues in their relationships and peer interventions can help individuals lower the risks of substance abuse Additionally, clubs were found to heavily mentioned in being involved in initiation into meth use so, different venues such as clubs and bars, or spaces adjacent to these venues should be targeted for interventions and distribution of literature on meth use risks.

Subject Area

Health sciences|Public health

Recommended Citation

Hernandez, Amir Gerardo, "Gender differences in initiation into methamphetamine use in a Mexico-U.S. border city" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118242.