FILE - This Jan. 23, 2020, file photo released by the Tulare County Sheriff's Office shows evidence seized after a Jan. 5 traffic stop led officers to major methamphetamine and fentanyl trafficking operation, including labs inside three homes in Pixley, Calif., and drugs with a street value of $1.5 million, authorities said. A record 621 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco so far in 2020, a staggering number that far outpaces the 173 deaths from COVID-19 the city has seen thus far. (Tulare County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Methamphetamine Deaths Soar Across The U.S.: Who Is At Risk

Methamphetamine abuse has been on the rise for years, and now it is taking its toll across the United States. As of 2014, over 10,000 people died from methamphetamine overdoses nationwide. The drug poses a serious threat to all Americans; but some groups are more at risk than others. In this blog post we will explore who meth is affecting most and what can be done about it!

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that slows down the central nervous system. It increases a user’s heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to dangerous levels. Meth can be used in a number of ways including swallowing, snorting, smoking or injecting into a muscle. The short-term effects of meth include increased energy and concentration, euphoria and a sense of wellbeing. Methamphetamine is known as a “tweak” on the streets because it causes its users to scratch and claw at their skin obsessively. This side effect has prompted meth users to develop a number of nicknames including crystal meth, speed, ice and glass. The psychoactive effects that accompany methamphetamine abuse present themselves in over 200 forms of the drug, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to regulate. The long-term effects of methamphetamine include violent behavior, cardiovascular collapse and brain damage.

The 2013 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reported that Mexican drug cartels are responsible for much of the methamphetamine found in the U.S., while domestic production is largely attributed to “small, independent labs.” The report also indicates that the meth found in the southwest border region is made using two ingredients: pseudoephedrine and phenyl-2-propanone (P2P). Using these products makes it difficult for authorities to regulate the drug.

The Council of Foreign Relations reports that while there has been a decline in the rate of methamphetamine abuse overall, there has been a significant increase among women and Hispanic Americans. Meth is especially affecting these groups due to their proximity to the source of the drug. Methamphetamine use has increased by 15% in Oregon and Washington states, which are located near major meth manufacturers in Mexico. In addition to this trend, meth is being manufactured locally in these states due to the availability of pseudoephedrine and P2P. This means that more meth is being produced, which has a direct impact on the rate of use by women and Hispanic Americans. According to a report published by Portland State University, “Non-Hispanic whites are more likely to use meth than Hispanics and African Americans, but non-Hispanic whites are less likely to experience a methamphetamine related health problem compared with Hispanics.”

Meth is taking its toll on women in particular. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, between 2002 and 2013 rates of methamphetamine abuse have increased from 0.3% to 1.2%. Women afflicted with mental illness are at an even greater risk of developing meth abuse issues. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety that affect women act as stressors to an already stressful situation, leading many women to turn towards drugs in order to cope.

“As the number of people using methamphetamine has increased, so has the number of people seeking treatment for meth addiction. The number of admissions in which methamphetamine was reported to be the primary drug of abuse has more than doubled since 2005, from 33,900 to 86,400 annually,” reports the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Methamphetamine is being imported into the U.S. at record numbers due to increased demand for methamphetamines across the globe. According to data compiled by amphetaminereport.com, “The worldwide consumption of methamphetamine has increased over 40�tween 2006-2011.” This increase in demand is likely fueled by Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., which makes it an easy location for Mexican drug cartels to operate and send large quantities of meth into America.