In 1887 Germany, amphetamine was first developed to function as a legitimate drug, and later in 1919, methamphetamine (meth) was refined in Japan. The drug was now more potent and easy to make and eventually went into widespread use during World War II. Meth use
It wasn’t until around the early 2000s that meth became a household word – and a topic of concern. Meth labs, which became synonymous with toxic chemicals and explosions, were inciting panic. People across the U.S., especially in rural areas, were all wondering “Do I live next to a meth lab?”
During this time campaigns and public awareness about meth continued to increase (i.e., Faces of Meth, Breaking Bad.) In 2005 meth use his its peak, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscated nearly 4,800 pounds of meth and recorded roughly 24,000 incidents involving meth labs and dump sites.
An estimated 85 metric tons of meth were consumed that year and limitations were eventually implemented on the sale of pseudoephedrine, a substance found in OTC cough and cold medications and the primary ingredient in meth.
As restrictions on pseudoephedrine tightened, law enforcement and officials started to notice a drop in clandestine meth labs, drug-related arrests, lab-related injuries, and overdoses.
Recent reports have revealed, however, that amidst the opioid crisis meth use has quietly been making its way back on the radar, due to Mexican drug cartels that have now become the primary suppliers. These drug rings can make meth purer and sell it cheaper than ever before, meaning that meth is even more dangerous than it was when it was “home-cooked” in rural America.
Florida has been especially hard hit in terms of meth use. Meth arrests between 2015-2016 were higher than any other drug, and overdose deaths involving meth doubled.
Also, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, New York, and South Dakota have recently experienced marked increases in labs, drug seizures, arrests, and overdoses. Nationally, overdose fatalities related to meth use more than doubled from 2010-2014, and by 2015, that number has jumped 30% from the year before.
Despite the ongoing and increasing meth scourge in the U.S., use continues to be eclipsed by the opioid crisis in the media. With alcohol consumption and other drug use on the rise, many officials wonder if we need to be referring to these trends as a widespread drug epidemic rather than just focusing on opioids.
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~ Nathalee G. Serrels, M.A. Psychology