Law-enforcement officials say methamphetamine use has become an epidemic, says the Christian Science Monitor. Federal officials estimate there are 1.5 million regular meth users in the U.S. today. As of 2003, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12.3 million Americans had tried meth at least once – up nearly 40 percent over 2000 and 156 percent over 1996. The impact ranges beyond meth users to crime victims, because addicts typically steal to support their addiction. Most distressing may be the thousands of children who are neglected or abused by meth users. Social service agencies report increases in out-of-home placements of children because of meth; the National Conference of State Legislatures says 10 percent of users were introduced to meth by their parents or other family members. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says children were at 20 percent of all meth lab busts last year.
Women are more likely to use meth than other illegal drugs. A federal survey of people arrested for all crimes found that 11.3 percent of women had used meth within the prior month compared with 4.7 percent of men. The federal government is tracking tracking the production and shipment of cold medicines with meth ingredients overseas – especially in Mexico, where meth “superlabs” run by cartels have been a major source of the drug. Many in Congress, where a bipartisan “meth caucus” has grown to 100 members from 35 states, and in state legislatures say the White House has been slow to attack meth as a major drug problem.