The Wall Street Journal is reporting that opioid-related deaths are starting to plateau, officials fret a surge in methamphetamine-related deaths could contribute to the next leg up in the American drug overdose crisis.
There were 1,854 meth-related deaths reported in 2010. By 2017, more than 10,300 deaths were linked to meth and or chemically-similar psychostimulants, which is a 550% jump from 2010.
The DEA told the Journal that their drug-tracking system recorded 347,807 law-enforcement meth seizures submitted to labs in 2017, a 118% increase from 2010. The recent inflow of meth into the U.S. has made it more affordable and easily accessible, the agency warns.
Officials say Mexican cartels are shipping more meth than ever into the country, mostly through ports of entry in hidden vehicle compartments.
“They’re flooding it through tunnels, they’re flooding it through ports of entry, they’re flooding it between ports of entry,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Phoenix office.
New Hampshire is one of the states where meth is becoming more common, said Jon DeLena, second-in-command at the DEA’s New England office.
“Everybody’s biggest fear is what’s it going to look like if meth hits us like fentanyl did,” he said.
People struggling with opioid addictions often use meth, said Silvana Mazzella, associate executive director at Prevention Point Philadelphia, a nonprofit.
“People are getting exposed to it and coming to like it and need it,” said Ms. Mazzella, whose group provides harm-reduction services from its headquarters in Kensington, the Philadelphia neighborhood known for its longstanding opioid problem.
On the West Coast, authorities in San Francisco are not just battling record homelessness, but also an alarming increase in meth overdoses. “Without more effective interventions, mentally ill and meth-addicted individuals will continue deteriorating on our sidewalks, in our emergency rooms and in our jails,” city supervisor Rafael Mandelman said in a press release.
Meth is also a concern in dying Rust Belt states, more specifically, in the Akron, Ohio metropolitan area, said Sally Longstreth Fluck, clinical director for Oriana House, a nonprofit that provides substance-abuse services for correctional facilities.
In 2006, Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act to address the out of control crisis. In 2018, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency over the opioid epidemic. Now, Washington could be back to the drawing board, announcing, yet, another crisis, the return of meth.
From one drug crisis to another, the slow death of the middle class has been a direct effect of flawed monetary policy and the financialization of the American economy, which has driven wealth inequality to levels never seen before in modern time. As long as the wealth inequality gap remains wide, the drug overdose crisis will only expand. The country is imploding from within.