Methamphetamine: A National PerspectiveCredit: ianbesler.blogspot.comMethamphetamine or meth is an addictive combination of different substances. There are different ways meth is cooked, different combination of substances and most of the time the success of a seller or a cook depends on “how good meth is cooked” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA 2006). It is popular on both youth and adult in the U.S. It may be smoked, snorted, injected, or inserted through the anus or mouth. Some manner of ingestion works faster than the others in terms of stimulating the nervous system which is the system that gives the user the addictive high.

Not all meth look the same. The look, texture, and colour depend on the purity of the substance. The powder that is most commonly seen on movies that are being snorted or burnt is the most impure and also the most affordable (Black et al. 2007). The said rate of purity of such kind is 10 percent. The crystal ones being sold, the solid substance, is the purest and most expensive kind and it has also the most lethal effect in inducing violent acts among users (Topp et al. 2002). Some estimates that Crystal Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth is up to eight times more pure than the powdered ones (McKetin, McLaren & Kelly 2005).

Clinical studies, experiments and even empirical studies have established the danger that methamphetamine posts to both users and non –users alike (Boles & Miotto 2003; Friedman, Kramer & Kreisher 1999; Merikangas et al. 1998; Tyner & Fremouw 2008). The media regularly reports of crimes on local and national level that are related, directly or indirectly, to drugs. Reuters (2006) even reported that the continuous rise of violent-related crimes is directly related to the continuous rise in methamphetamine use.

Methamphetamine ingest viruses, toxins, and other stimulants that affects the body and mind that cause violence, psychosis, depression, and weakening of the physical body that leads to other problems (Darke et al. 2008; McKetin et al. 2006; Sommers, Baskin & Baskin-Sommers 2006).

As per the Reuters report, violent crime includes murder, rape and robbery. In 2006, it increased by 3.7 percent in the first half based on the report submitted by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It stated that robberies are the most common of the violent crimes with 9.7 percent. This was more than a 5 percent increase from the 2005 rating with 2.5 percent which is the most significant increase in fifteen years.

The U.S. Justice Department said the number of cases they handle that are related to the use or selling or both of methamphetamine also increased. The demographics of those involved in the case have also become more varied. There has been an increase in gang violence that are related to methamphetamine. However, the study does not indicate any information on specific causes, background, and full analysis of the cases that would have presented a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between methamphatamine use and how it affects or influences the commission of violent crimes (Reuters 2006).

All these studies, however rough it may seem, point to the extensive influence of methamphetamine to violence especially when the other studies from other countries compare the rise of methamphetamine use to the increase of violent countries (Logan, Walker & Leukefeld 2001).

Australia’s Australian Bureau of Statistics or ABS (2006), for example, determined that men and women both fell victims of methamphetamine users. Of the total violence directed towards women, 6 percent were methamphetamine related. Of this 6 percent, 4.7 percent is physical violence and 1.6 involves sexual offense. On the other hand, of the violence committed towards men, 11 percent were methamphetamine related. This is dominated by physical violence with 10.4 percent and the rest is sexually related.

A National Perspective of the Impact of Methamphetamine

There is actually a worldwide increase in the use of methamphetamine and it has been linked to many psychopathological effects that increase of aggressiveness and violent behaviour (Black et al. 2007; Tyner & Fremouw 2008; Stretesky 2008; Wardlaw 1993). What is surprising is the lack of any centralized data, study or analysis that would comprehensively study and understand exactly how methamphetamine has affected the society in general. So far, there has been many psychological and physiological studies but no database exist that would directly analyse how methamphetamine is factoring in the commission of violent crimes.

Methamphetmine is analysed and studied in isolation. The National Drug Intelligence Center or NDIC (2011), for example, computed that possible expenses that the government incurred because methamphetamine amounts to more than $61 billion with the justice department incurring majority of the cost. They spent $56 Billion trying cases splitting the cost to human resources and operational cost. The rest of the $61 billion are divided among payments to victims, mortality costs, special drug programs and treatments, and other related medical bills.

However, it evident that they did not account for indirect expenses such as productivity loss of the victims, destruction to properties, health consequences to users and other people that may be affected by the production of meth, and others. Data of that nature are needed to fully compute the impact of the methamphetamine (Marshall et al. 2008). More importantly, there is no direct analysis of how many of the total violent crime committed in the United States are directly or indirectly related to methamphetamine or drugs in general. There are some records that could show how many of the suspects or victims were or are drug users but there is no conclusive study on whether the drug use played a part in the crime.

Police departments are well equipped to gather the data and it could easily be a data that could closely cover a hundred percent of the population. However, there are only two states that studied the link, California and Washington (Dobkin and Nicosia, 2008; High Intensity Drug Trafficing Area, 2006). Other areas that are supposed to be used as entries to the United States by Methamphetamine makers from other countries don’t have the data (See figure 1).

An independent study by the National Drug Threat Surveyed (NDTS) in 2010 determined that methamphetamine is the drug that has affected the most number of violent crimes in the US followed by Heroine. Most methamphetamine affected crimes cause considerable damage to property. However, the study was a survey. All surveys have a margin of error (NDIC 2011).

Another study by the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM II) tracks the drug testing results of ten cities in the US and they have established what is supposed to be a direct and definitive relation of methamphetamine and violent crimes in nine of ten cities. Their records indicate that 60 percent of the arrests in the ten cities were all drug related. Either the victim or the suspect was positive for methamphetamine.

Their study further revealed that there are also other States that experience a decline in the use of methamphetamine such as Washington (NDIC 2011). The National Center for Education Statistics also conducted their own independent study that revealed high involvement of gangs connected to methamphetamine to 4,323 homicides in 2009 (FBI 2009) and an increase in public schools student involvement on drug related crimes. It increased by 21 percent between 2001 to 2007 (NCESISCS 2011).