MYTH: You have to use meth only once to become addicted to it.
FACT: Not everyone who uses meth becomes addicted after a single use. But it is easy for an individual to become addicted to meth in a short period of time because meth drastically and quickly enhances a person’s mood. When a person uses meth, high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine are released into the brain. With each subsequent use, the body’s natural supply of dopamine is reduced, leaving a person feeling “flat” and depressed. To feel better, he or she is likely to seek another “hit” from the drug. In contrast to cocaine, which is almost completely metabolized in the body and then quickly removed, meth provides a longer-lasting high, and a larger percentage of the drug remains in the body. This results in meth being present in the brain longer, which ultimately can lead to higher rates of addiction.
MYTH: Meth isn’t as dangerous as other drugs— it’s just speed or diet pills.
FACT: Meth can be made from chemicals that often include battery acid, drain cleaner, lye, antifreeze, and other toxic ingredients, so there is a greater chance that a person who uses meth will require emergency medical attention than a person who uses any other drug. Long-term meth use causes paranoia and delusions, which can last for months or years after a person has stopped using. Meth labs have destroyed the environment where toxic lab byproducts are dumped into soil or drains.
MYTH: Since pseudoephedrine was tightly regulated in 2005, meth is no longer a problem.
FACT: Meth is still accessible. Even though the ingredients needed to make it aren’t readily available in the United States anymore, meth is being smuggled across the border from Mexico in record amounts. The meth available in 2020 is more potent than meth was fifteen years ago. It’s also cheaper to buy and provides a longer-lasting high than cocaine.
MYTH: States that border Mexico are in the greatest danger from meth.
FACT: Even though most of the meth in the United States comes from Mexico, drug cartels are using established supply channels for other drugs. Meth has been seized in every state in the United States.
MYTH: Meth-related crime is a problem only in large cities.
FACT: Meth-related crime reported in rural communities is significant. In the past decade, rural crime rates have shot up, while crime in many urban areas has gone down. In Iowa, for example, the violent crime rate rose by 3 percent statewide between 2006 and 2016, but in small towns violent crime increased by 50 percent. Rising meth use is a factor in the crime rates. Rural sheriffs from Ohio to Oklahoma to Oregon report meth use is up, and with it are crimes committed by people who use meth.
MYTH: Meth labs aren’t a problem in the United States anymore because meth is being smuggled from Mexico.
FACT: Most meth is coming from Mexico, but people are still making small amounts of meth in labs throughout the United States. Meth labs can be easily dismantled, stored, or moved. This portability often helps people who make meth to avoid detection by law enforcement officials. Meth labs have been found in many locations, including apartments, hotel rooms, rented storage spaces, and vans and trucks. Some meth labs have been booby-trapped, and lab operators are often well armed.
MYTH: Meth hurts only the people who use the drug.
FACT: Meth use costs everyone. Meth causes delusional thinking and a greater willingness to take risks, so people who use meth are more likely to commit crimes. Many cases of domestic violence are meth related. Children whose parents use meth are often abused and neglected. Property values decline and criminal activity escalates when meth comes into a neighborhood.
MYTH: Hardworking people don’t use meth.
FACT: Anybody can use meth. Research shows a wide diversity in people who use it, including honor roll students, housewives, executives, mothers, and employees in many industries. People of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds use meth. Many people start using meth to have greater energy to produce more at work, at home, or at school.
MYTH: Treatment doesn’t work for people addicted to meth and isn’t worth the cost.
FACT: Contrary to popular opinion, treatment for meth use disorder does work, and it is a wise investment. Every dollar spent on treatment is estimated to save more than twelve dollars in averted health care, social, and criminal justice costs.