Illegal use of methamphetamine has reached epidemic levels in Los Angeles, and its popularity has surpassed cocaine as users seek a cheaper, longer-lasting high, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Methamphetamine-related arrests have soared, from 168 during the first half of 2004 to 304 during the comparable period this year. More addicts are entering rehabilitation and methamphetamine is now the most-treated drug in those programs. Women use meth to lose weight — about 50 percent of meth users are women — and gay men use it to improve their sex lives.
Police and border officials have focused narcotics units on meth crackdowns, even though production has shifted from California’s High Desert to Mexico, where ingredients are easier to come by and law enforcement is laxer. Meth can quickly turn a middle-class professional into an out-of-work criminal. Without an income, meth addicts often turn to crime to finance their habit. “It brings you to your knees really quickly,” said Glenn McConnell, a Los Angeles narcotics detective. “Alcohol, you can be a 20-year user. You don’t see a 20-year meth user.”