The United States is Facing a Meth Crisis: Here’s How it Happened

Crystal Meth Use in the United States is on the Rise and Reaching Crisis Point

Back in the early 2000’s, authorities thought they had a handle on meth use in the United States. The government had created task forces to crack down on clandestine meth labs and simultaneously limited the amount of cold medicine that can be purchased at once. This effectively wiped out a major source of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in Crystal Meth production.

The legislative efforts worked and for the next couple years, as production slowed, so did meth use. However, those quiet years were just the calm before the storm. Production was being outsourced and meth use would soon come back stronger than ever. Now the United States faces a meth crisis. Here’s how it happened: 

 

Cartel Production and Distribution

When the US cracked down on all the factors involved in producing meth, production was outsourced over the border to Mexico. In the hands of Mexican cartels, production scaled up significantly in what are often called “superlabs”. As a result, the product is purer, more potent, less expensive, and more abundant than ever. 

Drug runners transport the product in liquid form, which is more difficult to detect. States across the US are being flooded with liquid meth, which is then brought to small-scale conversion labs across the country. In these labs, found in residential neighborhoods, office buildings, and even apartment buildings, they turn the liquid product into the crystal form that is popular on the street. These conversion labs are extremely dangerous. Meth is a highly combustible substance and accidents are prevalent. These are not trained chemists converting the substance but drug runners. Explosions are common and in residential areas they often can take innocent lives with them. 

 

Cheap and Plentiful

The sheer volume of meth coming in from Mexico has put pressure on local dealers, who are often selling the drug to users on credit. Steven Bell, a DEA spokesperson, has said “I have been involved with meth for the last 25 years. A wholesale plummet of price per pound, combined with a huge increase of purity, tells me they have perfected the production or manufacturing of methamphetamine. They have figured out the chemical reactions to get the best bang for their bucks.”

Meth can be found for around $5 per hit which is highly cheap as far as illicit substances are concerned. It is so cheap that police officers are finding that long-term addicts who were addicted to crack are switching to meth, citing that it’s half the price.

 

Public Health and Safety Crisis

Methamphetamine is associated with a host of public health concerns including increased risk of STDs and MRSA. It is also associated with serious long-term health consequences for users including heart failure, Parkinson’s and early onset Dementia. Furthermore, meth creates erratic behavior. One user shared with an Atlanta news outlet that as time went on, the consequences of her meth use worsened. She said, “I felt rage. I had too much energy. I screamed often.” Angry outbursts and violent behaviors can be side effects of meth use, called “ice rage”. Users can become highly agitated and unstable for seemingly no reason, creating significant public safety risks. 

Emergency room visits due to Crystal Meth are on the rise across the country. In San Francisco, meth related ER visits increased 600% in 2016 with 1965 visits. At San Francisco General Hospital, 47% of psychiatric ER visits were due to people who were high on meth rather than mentally ill. In Oklahoma, one of the hardest hit states in the Meth Epidemic, crystal meth is the leading cause of drug-related deaths, by a long way. 

Related: How Meth Use Increases Disease Risk

 

Getting Help

Crystal Meth is ravaging the United States and taking thousands of lives with it. But these deaths are preventable. Professional addiction treatment in a clinical environment like those at Harmony Recovery Group can make all the difference. Don’t let you or someone you love be next. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with Meth Use or addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out for the help you need.

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