Methamphetamine: The Anywhere, Anytime Drug
Of all the illicit drugs on the market, methamphetamine has a position that is slightly unique. Given a supply of a few precursor chemicals and someone willing to round up driveway cleaner, engine additives, matches, soda bottles and farm chemicals, a methamphetamine manufacturer can set up shop anywhere. And he does. Unlike other drugs, he does not need access to crops that are only grown in remote or secluded regions, like heroin poppies, coca leaf or marijuana. He does not need a cooperative pharmacist for illicitly distributed prescription drugs. He mostly needs pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in cold medicines sold around the world.
From the American Midwest to Australia, from Malaysia to Southeast Asia, from Africa to the Czech Republic, methamphetamine is being manufactured and distributed. Quickly addictive, methamphetamine adds more users than can be rehabilitated in any span of time.
Meth production is not currently the highest it’s ever been. That distinction goes to 2004, when an estimated 17,853 metric tons of the drug were produced. As precursor controls were implemented, numbers dropped until they were about a third of that number in 2007. But the statistic rose 28 percent the next year, probably due in part to easier methods of production that were developed and then freely distributed on the internet.
The 2010 World Drug Report from the United Nations lists the areas that are struggling with ATS - amphetamine-type stimulants, a class that includes meth, amphetamine and the club drug Ecstasy.
- East and Southeast Asia, a major source of precursor drugs, finished methamphetamine and recently, Ecstasy as well
- North America, where Canada has been developing as a significant source of Ecstasy, plus Mexico where tons of methamphetamine are being produced in large manufacturing facilities, and the United States where some large Mexican labs have been established, and there has been a resurgence of small labs due to new methods of production that require less equipment and the precursor drug pseudoephedrine
- Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, all home to growing methamphetamine, amphetamine and Ecstasy production and abuse
- South and Western Africa, most significantly in the south where methamphetamine and the similar drug methcathinone are problematic
- Europe presents a patchwork quilt appearance of amphetamine, methamphetamine and Ecstasy production and abuse. In Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary, the predominant ATS being abused is amphetamine; both amphetamine and meth are abused in Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Meth is the primary ATS being abused in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Again from the United Nations, the list of countries with significant seizures of clandestine labs shows the worldwide range of this drug: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa and the United States.
Treatment Demand for Methamphetamine
Some drugs like alcohol and marijuana may take awhile to exert an addictive grip on a person. Certain other drugs, including methamphetamine, crack cocaine and even prescription OxyContin, are quickly addictive. Sometimes, just one use is enough to send a person down a road from which only drug rehabilitation will return them. The initial high of methamphetamine is unlike anything most users have ever experienced before. But the body builds up a tolerance for the drug rapidly, meaning that the abuser may “chase” that initial high, quickly increasing the dosage or frequency of use to try to get the same high as the first time. Anti-drug campaigns such as the Montana Meth Project (adopted by many other states following their success getting teens to abstain) adamantly insist: “Not Even Once.”
Unfortunately, there are many thousands of people around the world falling prey to ATS addiction
The proportion of treatment demand resulting from methamphetamine abuse in Europe varies greatly by country, as do the manufacturing and abuse statistics. In the Czech Republic, 70 percent of those seeking treatment for any type of addiction are addicted to methamphetamine. In Hungary, 40 percent, Finland 25 percent, Sweden half and Latvia about 20 percent. The majority of those seeking help for meth addiction in the Czech Republic are injecting drug users.
In England and Wales, methamphetamine or amphetamine addicts may be treated with the administration of dexamphetamine, a prescription form of the stimulant drugs. This is similar to the practice of administering pharmaceutical grade heroin which is done in some European countries as a way of enabling addicts to lead a law-abiding lifestyle if they have not been able to succeed in rehab attempts.
Asia’s Problem and Treatment
The UN estimates that more than half the world’s methamphetamine addicts live in East and Southeast Asia. According to local reports, methamphetamine is one of the cheapest drugs on the street. But drug rehabilitation centers to respond to this crisis are not amply available.
While Asia may be short on drug rehabs for its own citizens, ironically, foreigners often travel to Thailand for what is termed “medical tourism,” going abroad for cheaper medical care than one can get at home. In this case, drug rehabilitation. Buddhist monks even run their own center in Saraburi, Thailand, bringing people from England and Ireland for their drug-free program that employs herbs and religious rituals. Other drug rehabs in the country are based on the Twelve-Step model. The Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board stated that while there were between 800,000 and 900,000 addicts nationwide, the drug rehabilitation programs in the country could only treat perhaps one-sixth of the addicts.
Other reports describe detention camps being used to house addicts, but instead of providing treatment, they are more prison-like. Those restricted to these camps are subject to abuse and receive no medical care while detained. One report stated that 100 percent of those detained in these camps return to drug use after being released. Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand have 8, 13 and 84 detention camps, respectively.
If you know someone who needs methamphetamine treatment for their addiction, please contact a Narconon drug treatment counselor right away. We can assist you in getting the help that is needed.