Methamphetamine Roils Rural Towns Again Across The U.S.

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NPR on 10/25/2018 by Frank Morris

A drug specialist in the Mexican army shows crystal methamphetamine paste seized at a clandestine laboratory in Mexico’s Baja California in August. Much of the meth sold in the U.S. today comes from Mexico, according to DEA officials. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images

The sharp rise in opioid abuse and fatal overdoses has overshadowed another mounting drug problem: Methamphetamine use is rising across the United States.

“Usage of methamphetamine nationally is at an all-time high,” says Erik Smith, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Kansas City office.

“It is back with a vengeance.” he says. “And the reasons for that are twofold.” The drug’s now stronger, and cheaper, than it used to be.

No longer chiefly made by “cooks” in makeshift labs in the U.S., 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.

But 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.