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How Meth Addiction Hurts Communities

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Crystal Meth
Credit: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Meth has Significant Effects on Overall Society

Meth addiction made a comeback in the 1990s after a couple of decades of less prominence and the problems associated with methamphetamine has been rising ever since. 1 Fast-forward to 2015 and, unfortunately, it has become a huge problem in society. Not just for the addicted user and the "cooker", but also for anyone around them and beyond.  Since this comeback, the impacts stemming from the rise of meth use has had a substantial domino effect on various communities in the United States, Canada and it looks like its use is also increasing in European countries. 2

The implications of meth use and the meth labs launched to feed the addictions has been vast. The repercussions range from health to financial to senseless deaths. The chemicals produced by meth are considered to be very dangerous.

Mobile meth labs create of risk death and injury

Mobile meth labs are a common issue reported in the media and the impact of these on communities can be severe. Unfortunately, the presence of mobile meth labs increases the risk of injury and/or death. Such as the case of two Florida men who were using the common one-pot "shake and bake" method in their car, and led to one of the men dying in a crash and subsequent explosion.

In 2011 a situation occurred in Tulsa, Okla., when a woman was discovered cooking meth in one of the aisles of a Walmart store. 3 Fortunately, no severe injuries occurred, although one law enforcement agent did receive a burn from the chemicals. Had this mobile meth lab exploded in the store, the effects could have been disastrous.

One of the other ways mobile meth labs hurt communities is you never know where or when one may surface. The dangerous chemicals can be in a store, a car, a large bag or even underneath an individual's jacket as they stroll through the mall (there have been reports of this in past years).

If you see a partially-filled soda (pop) bottle laying on the sidewalk, be careful, you don't know what's in it. This 2010 news video highlights mobile meth labs and overall meth problems occurring in some regions.


Contamination is another significant problem that has arisen as a residual effect of meth addiction. Meth addicts, or those that cook meth to feed the illegal market, create hazardous environments that pollute homes and the overall environment. Experts say for every pound of meth produced, reportedly about five pounds of hazardous waste is created, often dumped into the environment.

Homes and motels are often used as meth labs. Renters and buyers often find themselves living in a hazardous environments. Motel rooms are also often used as meth labs, which means every traveler staying in the room is potentially exposed to dangerous chemicals. Or, if another guest is cooking meth in the room and it explodes, this could kill or injure other guests; not to mention, destroy the property in a fire. Landlords may or may not disclose to tenants that former residents used the dwelling to make meth, there is no standard law requiring disclosure.

Meth is now also increasingly becoming a concern for people looking to buy a home. Over the past five years many homeowners have unknowingly purchased "meth houses" and their families became very ill. Clean up runs into the tens of thousands of dollars. Again, disclosure is not uniform in law, whether or not anyone has to tell you depends on the state and/or city's local ordinances.   

Meth explosion
Credit: US government agency

Meth-making can result in serious contamination and, in some cases, fires if an explosion occurs during the process.

Costs of healthcare

The costs associated with meth-related healthcare costs is high. Consider addictions and sicknesses (such as the families living in meth-infected residencies and burns). Explosions are common when methamphetamine is produced due to the highly volatile chemicals involved, and burn-related injuries are often the result.  

The Associated Press (courtesy of CTV News) released a report in 2012 that illuminated a survey that showed meth burn victims are overwhelming U.S. hospitals in the nation's "most active meth states." 6

Hospitals are often filled with uninsured burn patients, and this has become a burdensome financially for the facilities (and as a domino effect, other patients that are insured). Statistics cited by AP included $130,000 for an average meth patient's hospital stay, and another figure cited was a cost of $6,000 per day for treatment of meth-burn patients. Additionally, many burn units were forced to close because they couldn't handle the expenses that meth-related injuries created. So, this hurts communities in the fact that other burn patients probably either a) pay higher costs to be treated or b) cannot receive local treatment since facilities were forced to close down.

In addition to burns, there are many other negative bodily effects of using meth. "Meth mouth" is just one of many problematic health issues associated with this drug.

This is a case of suspected meth mouth. This patient, who will remain anonymous, was treated at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center: College of Dentistry in Memphis, Tennessee
Credit: Dozenist (found on Wikimedia Commons - license Creative Commons with Attribution and Share-Alike

Photo description says: "This is a case of suspected meth mouth. This patient, who will remain anonymous, was treated at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center: College of Dentistry in Memphis, Tennessee"

Long-reaching effects

The manufacture of methamphetamine has long-reaching effects in society. And the problem doesn't seem to be lessening. Even as U.S. law enforcement goes after home-grown meth labs, suppliers outside the country have "filled the gaps" left by these closures.  In 2015 U.S. officials are making a bigger commitment to cracking down at the borders to stop the steady flux of meth into the country. 7 Illegal drug trade in Mexico is a big money maker, however, also has created negative effects in that country as well, aside from contamination and other ill effects, it has also increased deadly violence in the country. 8

As noted above, meth has lead to injuries, deaths and sicknesses. The addiction is a powerful one, and law enforcement considers methamphetamine to be a huge problem drug. According to a White House report cited by USA Today, Americans are estimated to spend between $6 billion and $22 billion on meth each year. In earlier years, according to U.S. federal government estimates, more than 12 million (known) Americans had tried methamphetamine and 1.5 million people had been reported to be regular users. In 2012, the statistics have decreased, however, the numbers are still high. Not to mention,  taxpayer money being heavily spent on meth-related issues.

Meth use is not just an individual addict problem, it has evolved into a serious societal issue with consequences for all of us in many different ways.



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  1. "Home page." Crystal Meth Addiction. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  2. "Crystal Meth's 'Worrying' Rise Across Europe." Sky News. 03/11/2014. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  3. Leigh Goessl "Woman arrested for making meth in Walmart." Digital Journal. 10/12/2011. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  4. Julia Sommerfeld "Beating an addiction to meth." NBC News. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  5. Jeff Weiner "Meth death: 'Shake and bake' meth explosion killed driver, caused crash, cops say." Orlando Sentinel. 04/01/2012. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  6. The Associated Press "Crude new meth recipe overburdening some U.S. hospitals." CTV News. 23/01/2012. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  7. Joe Johns "U.S. aims to slow meth imports from Mexico." CNN. 07/01/2015. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  8. Ioan Grillo, GlobalPost "Meth cooks-for-hire help boost drug traffic to USA." USA Today. 14/01/2015. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  9. "What is the scope of methamphetamine abuse in the United States?." DrugAbuse.gov. 29/01/2015 <Web >
  10. "Meth Awareness (archive)." U.S. Department of Justice. 29/01/2015 <Web >

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