Methamphetamine use is a widespread drug abuse problem that has been afflicting America for decades. The statistics on meth usage and hospitalizations have indicated the dangers are lessening over the past few years, but the problems related with meth and widespread usage of meth are still widely apparent.
A Brief Overview of Meth
Methamphetamine is a drug that was created at the very end of the 1800’s in Japan and was used prominently by the Axis in World War II as a stimulant for soldiers. In the 50’s and 60’s the drug was used popularly as a diet pill. In the 70’s, the US government became aware of the highly addictive properties of methamphetamine and made it a schedule II controlled substance. This greatly restricted the production and distribution of the drug. Methamphetamine reached its peak popularity most likely in the early 2000’s as those years had the most drug arrests, drug seizures and meth lab incidents. These statistics dipped in 2007, but have been on a rise since.
Currently methamphetamine is commercially produced as Desoxyn. Regardless of meth’s known stimulant effects, highly addictive nature and side effects, Desoxyn is marketed as a drug for ADHD.
Meth in America today
In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2012, around 1.2 million people reported they had used methamphetamine in the past year while 440,000 people reported they had used the drug in the past month. That’s about 0.4% and 0.2% of the population respectively. These numbers are slightly down from 2006 when 731,000 people reported using meth in the past month. Although still indicating a downward trend in usage, 133,000 people started using meth newly in 2012. The average age of new methamphetamine users was 19.7.
Attacking the Young
Perhaps spurred by the dramatization and glamorization of meth on TV over the past few years, meth is being used by younger and younger generations. In another study done in 2012, Monitoring the Future found that about 1% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders had used meth in the past year. These numbers are on par with the national averages for adults. The survey found that usage had dropped for 10th and 12th graders, but usage among 8th graders has stayed generally the same. Meth is a much bigger problem for pre-adults because it is a neurotoxin and can stunt brain development.
With a reasoning based in lunacy, some young people are even turning to meth to try to lose weight. Weight loss was one of the intended uses when the drug was first manufactured, but years of data on side effects ought to have dissuaded anyone from thinking that meth was a suitable drug for weight issues.
Still a Problem
While some analysis shows that methamphetamine usage has dropped, it’s no time to declare the mission to eradicate meth a victory. Meth was responsible for around 103,000 emergency room visits in 2011 and was the fourth most commonly listed drug in drug-related emergency visits behind cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Furthermore, meth is becoming a more elusive drug to bust as producers are adapting to drug enforcements practices.
The Midwest Meth Epidemic
Meth hit the Midwest in the early 90’s. Popularity in the Midwest might have been partly caused by its distinction as being a distribution point for Mexican drug cartels. Currently, the Midwest is one of the more popular areas for methamphetamine use in America. Recently, North Texas has been fighting back against the production and distribution networks in its area. Thirty-eight people have been arrested in the latest busts that have targeted a drug ring involving dozens of distributors throughout Arlington, Dallas-Fort Worth and Wichita Falls.
DrugAbuse.gov – What is the Scope of Methamphetamine Abuse in the United States? – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine-abuse-addiction/what-scope-methamphetamine-abuse-in-united-states
HealthVermont.gov – A brief History of Methamphetamine – http://healthvermont.gov/adap/meth/brief_history.aspx
kHou.com – North Texas Man Gets 25 Year in Meth Ring Case – http://www.khou.com/news/texas-news/North-Texas-man-gets-25-years-in-meth-ring-case-248540801.html