Instead of struggling with the nation’s fifth-worst meth problem, Montana now ranks 39th. Teen use has declined 45 percent; adult use is down 70 percent, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Montana’s experience is a dramatic example of success in the war on meth. Some 8.4 million workplace drug tests across the U.S. showed a 22 percent decline in meth use from 2006 to 2007 and a 19 percent drop in cocaine use over the same period. Overall, said Quest Diagnostics, 3.8 percent of the tests indicated an illicit drug – the lowest level since the New Jersey company began publishing results in 1988.
“The bottom line is that the war on drugs continues,” says law Prof. David Crane of Syracuse University. “It’s like grabbing onto water. Every time we grab onto it, it goes right through our fingers or diverts and goes somewhere else.” The Quest report found a 5 percent rise in amphetamine use, which could indicate that some users are switching to milder drugs. One factor behind the drop in meth use is better antidrug advertising. The Meth Project, a nonprofit Montana group, blanketed television stations, newspapers, billboards, and Internet sites with drug-prevention ads starting in 2005. The other crucial factor behind the decline of meth use is a shift in federal drug-enforcement strategy. Efforts now focus less on stopping individual criminals and more on interrupting the business of trafficking drugs.