Meth Addiction—A Rising Crisis in America

Meth addict
Photo by Upyanose/

Meth addiction is once again in the news as deaths and overdoses begin to rise. While meth use has long been associated with severe health consequences, this new spike in deaths and overdoses is being attributed to meth being mixed with the opioid drug fentanyl, drastically increasing the risk of death by overdose.

The Concerning Increase in Meth Abuse Across America

Between 2013 and 2019, urine samples that tested positive for methamphetamine skyrocketed more than six-fold. In 2013, about 1.4 percent of urine samples tested positive for meth, compared to 8.4 percent positive test samples in 2019. This revelation came from a study performed by researchers at Millennium Health in San Diego, published in JAMA Network Open.

Methamphetamine abuse can result in anxiety, insomnia, addiction, mood disturbances, psychosis and violent behavior…”

Meth can have a serious and extensive range of harmful effects on users. According to Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City: 

“Methamphetamine abuse can result in anxiety, insomnia, addiction, mood disturbances, psychosis and violent behavior. The drug may also trigger psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. In some cases, psychotic symptoms can persist for months or even years after people have stopped using.”

The harmful side effects of meth use is a long list. But perhaps the most significant risk factor regarding meth is lethal overdose, someone actually dying due to taking meth. If meth addiction is increasing across the United States, as evidenced by increasing numbers of positive drug tests, it can be easily surmised that more people have already died of overdoses and will continue to die from meth.

A Closer Look at the Scope of Methamphetamine Use in the United States

Meth addict
Photo by Todor Tsvetkov/

One of the first steps that must be taken to understand a drug problem is to understand the scope of that problem. Regarding meth addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released a report that detailed the frequency of methamphetamine misuse in the United States. Some of the findings of that report include the following:

  • In 2017, about 1.6 million Americans experimented with methamphetamine.
  • On average, most meth users will start young, beginning a pattern of meth use in their early-20s.

While methamphetamine addiction is a growing problem all across the country, some regional areas are experiencing “micro-epidemics” of methamphetamine addiction. For example, in some midwestern and western regions of the U.S., more than seventy percent of law enforcement offices report methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat in their region.

Another metric that shows the regional disparity of methamphetamine misuse is treatment center admissions. In states east of the Mississippi River, admissions for methamphetamine as the primary substance of use were less than one percent. In contrast, west of the Mississippi River, treatment center admissions for methamphetamine as the primary substance of use comprise anywhere from 12 to 29 percent of such admissions.

Sadly, methamphetamine deaths are also on the rise. Measured alongside deaths involving other psychostimulants, meth-relate deaths increased by 750 percent from 2007 to 2017. Many of those deaths came from an overdose that involved meth and an opioid drug, indicating that polysubstance abuse (using multiple drugs at once) is becoming more common.

In 2007, 1,378 people died from meth or related psychostimulants. In 2017, 10,333 people died from meth or related psychostimulants.

Meth addiction has sometimes been erroneously considered a “fringe” drug addiction issue, simply because meth addiction did not claim as many lives or have as many addicts as other drug categories such as opiate addiction or alcohol addiction.

Today, meth addiction is a critical and significant issue in the drug “scene” in America. More people are using meth in the U.S. than perhaps ever before, and the meth they are using is increasingly mixed with other life-threatening substances. If this problem does not receive the attention it deserves soon, it will only get much, much worse.

Drug Rehabilitation—Curbing Meth Addiction Safely

As methamphetamine addiction becomes more common across the U.S., the urgency to address this problem has never been more critical. If you have a family member or a loved one addicted to meth, don’t let them become just another statistic. Meth rehab can help them recover and achieve a lifetime of freedom from drugs.

Narconon has been helping addicts get off drugs for over half a century, each year helping hundreds of people worldwide address the specific aspects of their lives that were causing them to use drugs, freeing them up to comfortably pursue a life that is unhampered by drugs and alcohol.

The effects of methamphetamine addiction are horrendous and debilitating, physically, mentally, and spiritually. And the longer your loved one goes without getting help, the less likely they are to have the strength to make a full recovery. Call Narconon today to take the first step to help your loved one make real and lasting changes in their life. Please do not wait until it is too late.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.