In the 2000s, the discovery of methamphetamine labs across the country was making headlines, the now famous Faces of Meth campaign launched, and Breaking Bad was giving America an introductory course on blue meth. At its peak, in 2005, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized 4,764 pounds of meth and reported almost 24,000 incidents involving meth labs and dumpsites. It is estimated that over 85 metric tons of meth were consumed that year alone. But as restrictions on pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter cold medication used in meth production, tightened, officials began to see a decrease in clandestine labs, meth-related arrests, and overdoses.
However, reports now show that while the opioid epidemic has been garnering everyone’s attention over the last few years, methamphetamine use has been silently skyrocketing across the nation. And while the number of meth labs across America is lower than it was in the early 2000s, officials say that Mexican cartels are now the primary suppliers of methamphetamine, flooding the streets with purer and more dangerous meth.
One state experiencing the resurgence of meth is Florida, where meth arrests are higher than any other drug and meth-related deaths have doubled between 2015 and 2016. South Florida officials have noticed the drug has particularly impacted the LGBTQ community.
Florida is not alone. South Dakota, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and New York have also seen significant increases in labs, drug seizures, overdoses, and meth-related arrests. Officials say the problem is nationwide. Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine more than doubled between 2010 and 2014. Between 2014 and 2015, that number skyrocketed by 30 percent.
But despite the increasing danger that meth poses on the country, it continues to be overshadowed by the opioid epidemic. Public health officials are now urging that attention be given to drug addiction as a whole, rather than a narrow focus on opioids.
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