Meth, cheap and available, makes a comeback in the US

Published 6:04 am Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Though the opioid epidemic has garnered the lion’s share of headlines, methamphetamine use is on the rise across the U.S. “Even in rural communities ravaged by decades of experience with the drug, meth is on the upswing thanks to its relatively low price, availability and a shortage of treatment options,” Frank Morris reports for NPR.

Partly because the U.S. tightened access to common meth ingredients like pseudoephedrine, “Methamphetamine is now the domain of Mexican drug cartels that are mass-producing high-quality quantities of the drug and pushing it into markets where it was previously unknown,” Morris reports.

Meth and opioid abuse trigger many of the same social problems. Beyond health risks, which include getting hepatitis A from risky behavior while high, drug abuse spurs theft and prostitution. Children of users suffer too, as their parents leave them unsupervised or sell food and use rent money to buy more drugs.

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“The meth problem has basically exploded across every race and social-economic class that you can imagine” and is reaching people and places it never did before, Sgt. Mark McClendon of the Missouri Highway Patrol told Morris.

Because the government has prioritized fighting the opioid epidemic, there aren’t many intensive treatment resources for uninsured meth users, and there are no government-approved medications to treat meth addiction, Morris reports. Faith-based initiatives appear to be trying to fill in the gap, at least in southeastern Missouri.

Dustin Siebert, who used to use and manufacture meth, founded one of them — the Matthew 25 Project — in the Missouri Bootheel town of Qulin (pop. 450). He preaches to meth addicts and their loved ones that God meant for people with addictive personalities to be addicted to religion instead of drugs. “Because the problem is addiction,” he told the group recently. “Until they figure out why people want to get high and use drugs, it’s always going to be something else.”

The Rural Blog is published by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.