While America’s opioid crisis makes daily headlines, other dangerous addictions have flown mostly under the radar of mainstream media outlets. It is no secret that opioid addiction claims hundreds of lives everyday, but drugs like meth have become just as deadly and widespread in the United States.
The New York Times recently published an insightful article detailing the meth addiction crisis that many news outlets appear to be ignoring. Crystal meth or methamphetamine, one of the most destructive drugs of the 1980’s, has been quietly invading homes across the country and wreaking havoc among middle and working class Americans.
The Times article shares the alarming statistics about nationwide meth use. According to their research, nearly 6,000 people died due to meth use in 2015. Compared to 2005, that is a 255 percent increase in overdose deaths. In some west coast states, like Oregon, meth took twice as many lives as heroin last year.
The meth crisis is an example of a “Buried Addiction” because it is underreported by the media. But these figures are very real and have already gotten the attention of The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Tragically, even the opioid epidemic isn’t getting the coverage it deserves when you consider how many lives its claimed. Google a term like “crystal meth” in the online news section and you’ll find even less to read about.
The history of meth production began in the early 1980’s when “meth labs” became commonplace within the addiction community, creating crystallized (and very potent) strains of the stimulant methamphetamine (which at its core, is meant to treat obesity, ADHD and stuffy noses). During the 1980’s epidemic, it was commonly smoked, injected and snorted and was famous for its highly addictive nature.
Congress ultimately passed a law in the early 1990’s putting federal restrictions on the purchase of common meth ingredients and, for the most part, it did help lead to a decrease in illicit usage. By the 2000’s, however, new concoctions began emerging which utilized ingredients from household cough syrups and nasal decongestants. More laws were passed (particularly the Combat Methamphetamine Act) making it difficult to obtain over-the-counter medicine, but the cycle continued and has now re-emerged at an ever stronger rate.
What makes the crystal meth of this decade so alarming is its use of even more potent ingredients. The Times goes on to profile the involvement of Mexican drug cartels and strains that are now cheaper to obtain and, as they put it, “nearly 100% pure.”
To many, this issue poses even more of a threat to the country than the opioid crisis due to the stimulant nature of the drug. “Heroin is a depressant. It shuts you down and you’re not capable of doing a whole lot,” police sergeant Jan Kubic told The Times. “Tweakers are jacked up. They have lowered inhibitions and are awake 24/7, running around at night, so burglaries become easier.” The dangerous high associated with the drug has lead to an increase in violence and citywide crimes in areas that are hit hardest by the meth epidemic.
We have certainly put this issue on our radar and are working hard to open up conversations about meth recovery and healing. If you or someone you are close to is experiencing a dependency like this, we strongly urge you to reach out and get help.