Thursday, April 13, 2006


What Meth Epidemic?

There is, it seems, always some kind of “drug epidemic” that the cops and lawmakers and newspapers try to get us into a tizzy about. Crack, weed, huffing paint, sniffing glue, black-tar heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, and now meth. As usual, it’s overblown: what happened with the “crack babies” turned out to be like the Kuwaiti babies the Iraqis were supposed to have tossed out of their incubators: a nice story.

Meth is the current epidemic-of-choice. It’s been around for years. But it was, like all the terrible drug scourages, so maginalized that nobody cared. Someone once commented that the only times the mainstream gets upset about illicit drugs is when the children of the white middle class begin using them. As long as the drugs are used by ethnic minorities or bohemians, say, nobody gives a damn. But in the last year there have been stories after stories about how horrible meth is and how it’s absolutely going to bankrupt the country and all the suburbs will be looted by meth-heads needing money for their drugs. However. I call your attention to the second paragraph in the story.

The truth is a bit different from the propaganda—as usual.


The Big Picture: Meth Use in America & the Government Response

* The U.S. Congress recently added a provision to the USA Patriot Act, the “Combat Meth Act,” that requires stores to keep pseudoephedrine products locked behind counters and customers purchasing these products to present identification and register their purchase complete with a signature. Americans suffer from over one billion colds each year, according to the National Institute of Health. A government “watch list” of cold and allergy sufferers is a senseless waste of resources and an unwarranted infringement on privacy.

Meth use during the past four years has either declined or stayed flat, according to two major national drug-use studies. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that meth use did not increase at all from 2002 through 2004, the last year for which there is data. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study, which examines drug use among youth, actually shows a decline in meth use among high-school students from 1999 to 2005.

Approximately 600,000 Americans, representing less than 0.2 percent of the population, reported using meth in the past month, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In comparison, more than 120 million Americans, representing more than 50 percent of the population, reported using alcohol in the past month.

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