As communities across the United States are increasingly beset with escalating rates of opioid addiction and overdose, many are finding the substance abuse threats that face their residents compounded by an old but strengthening enemy: meth addiction. From New Hampshire to Ohio to Texas and beyond, opioid addicts are being lured by meth’s comparatively low price tag, increasingly easy accessibility and powerful and immediate high. Despite the much-needed cultural and clinical attention being paid to the nation’s prescription and illicit opioid crisis, meth addiction is one of many enduring and escalating threats facing Americans of a variety of backgrounds on a daily basis.
What’s behind the Resurgence?
About 15 years ago, legislators took swift and decisive action against meth addiction. The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 offered sweeping reforms that were meant to stem the tide of this dangerous and pervasive public health crisis. In the year since this legislation was passed, meth seizures, particularly those in Southwest field offices, have consistently increased, signaling that the problem persists despite proposed legal remedies.
One of the primary drivers of this increase is the ramped up production of Mexican methamphetamine, which has become a particularly serious issue along the Texas border. When legislators made it harder to obtain the ingredients to cook the drug in the United States, Mexican factions stepped in to fill the need. The newer product is almost entirely pure, averages around $5 per hit and is easy to obtain.
A Consistent and Alarming Threat
As of 2015, meth addiction saw a ten-year increase of over 250 percent, killing a majority of the nearly 6,000 Americans who died of stimulant use that year. While public health issues related to homegrown production have decreased, other issues, including increasing crime and decreasing quality of life in many communities in which meth is readily available, continue to make life incredibly difficult for their residents. In 2016, customs authorities at border points in Arizona, California and Texas agents seized over 520,000 pounds of the drug. Many are actually using the drug alongside heroin to counteract its stimulant effects.