Meth Resurgence in the South: A Regional Resource

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Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive, synthetically produced, central nervous system stimulant that, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is the most common synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. The recent, rapid growth of methamphetamine users in the United States largely is due to the ability to produce it using conventional, easily  accessible chemicals and supplies.

While other major illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, are imported from South American or Asian countries, most methamphetamine consumed in the United States is produced locally with a recipe downloaded from the Internet and readily available products like pseudoephedrine and ephedrine (found in decongestants and other cold  medications), iodine, rock salt, battery acid, anhydrous ammonia and some basic kitchen items like plastic bags, glass cookware, funnels and soda bottles.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 10 million people 12 years and older have abused methamphetamine in their lifetimes and, in 2005, about 500,000 people were current users.1 Other than marijuana, it is perhaps the first major drug to have vast quantities  produced in rural regions of the country. This is attributable to the fact that meth production requires discrete locations, such as abandoned farms, fields, vehicles, barns and old hotel rooms.

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has been tracking the issue of crystal methamphetamine production, distribution and use for almost a decade. In 2001, the SLC published a report, Methamphetamine Production and Abuse in Southern States, which examined the rise in popularity of the drug from the early to mid 1980s and assessed its impacts on Southern states. It concluded that “methamphetamine has taken hold across the South and Midwest. It has become a particularly pernicious and perplexing problem in states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, but policymakers are confronted with a potential increase in the production and use of methamphetamine across the South.”2 These concerns were not unfounded. Meth has become one of the most dangerous illegal substances in Southern states, and almost every SLC state is seeing annual increases in meth laboratory seizures. According to the DEA, meth labs are, by far, the most common clandestine laboratories in the United States.3

  To read the rest of the report, download: Meth Resurgence in the South


1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine Addiction: Cause for Concern (Washington: National Institutes of Health, 2007), 1.
2. Douglas Jacobson, Methamphetamine Production and Abuse in Southern States (Atlanta: The Council of State Governments, 2001), 7.
3. Dana Hunt, Sarah Kuck and Linda Truitt, Methamphetamine Use: Lessons Learned (Washington: U.S. Department of Justice, 2006), 12.