Many cultural changes begin on the coasts and arrive in the American heartland a bit behind the rest of the country. It took a few years for the methamphetamine wave to roll into Ohio, but it is clear that this cursed drug is here for the forseeable future.
In 2004, 286 meth labs were seized by DEA, state and local authorities, compared to 97 in 2002 and 29 in 2000. The move to restrict pseudoephedrine sales in 2006 seems to have cut down on the number of meth labs in the state, but more meth is crossing the border from labs in Mexico.
Nationally, the number of admissions to drug treatment centers in which methamphetamine was the primary drug of abuse increased more than threefold, from 47,695 in 1995 to 152,368 in 2005.
The live-and-let-live side of me used to avoid getting too flustered about the drug use of other people so long as I am not affected, but the social costs of meth abuse are staggering. The State of Montana provides an example of the financial burden posed by methamphetamine abuse: 52% of Montana children in foster care ($12 million), 50% of adults in prison are ($45 million), and 20% of adults in drug treatment ($12 million) cost that state an annual cost of $79 million in direct expenses.
This in a state of approximately 900,000 people.
South Dakota home meth lab
Add to this the cost of cleaning up clandestine meth labs, which average about $5,000 per building, but which can cost up to $100,000 or more to remove the toxic byproducts discarded by the meth producers.
One can only imagine what the human cost of this destructive drug are.
I tend to advocate decriminalization of drugs, and I do not wish to see law enforcement wasting time and money chasing drug users, especially the pathetic people whose lives are being destroyed by meth. Libertarian-esque arguments about personal freedoms, however, leave me scratching my head, and those who argue "legalize but tax" must not be thinking of methamphetamines when they make this argument.
Unfortunately, as I sit in my meth-free little home writing this post, I have no answers, other than to increase awareness of the dangers and pervasiveness of meth abuse. Want to see some real-life effects of meth abuse? Check out Faces of Meth, and be forewarned: Meth makes no one look prettier.
I pray that meth never enters my home and yours, but I fear that one of us, statistically, will not be so lucky.